Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thank God for Hellboy!

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Release: 07.11.2008
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 50 minutes


This sequel picks up after the events of 2004's Hellboy, but a few quick introductory sequences alleviate having to have seen the original. Hellboy (Ron Perlman, Blade II) still proudly wears his mantle as the red-skinned stepchild of the B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense). He's got Chief Manning (Jeffrey Tambor, Eurotrip) at wit's end as it is becoming harder and harder to hide the big lug's existence from the general public, especially when Red doesn't consider himself stealth. To make matters worse, Liz (Selma Blair, The Sweetest Thing) is a bit sensitive to Hellboy's insensitivities, straining their relationship and making the team’s missions even more awkward.

Meanwhile, the elven Prince Nuada (Luke Goss, Blade II) has surfaced from the underworld to recover the missing pieces of the Crown of Bethmoora. If Nuada reassembles the crown, he will command the industable, um, indestructible, Golden Army and all of mankind will suffer and cower at his feet. Sounds like a job for...

Based on the comics of the same name created by Mike M
ignola, writer-director Guillermo del Toro crafts a tale brimming with action, laughs and complex characters that is widely accessible to audiences both young and old. Where the first film focused on the conflict between Hellboy and the villain Rasputin, Hellboy II tackles the team's acceptance issues. Del Toro takes his character-driven story and polishes it with some spectacularly imaginative creatures. From lumbering ogres with mechanical appendages to diminutive and ravenous tooth fairies to a massive forest elemental; the richly crafted underworld creatures are breathtaking to behold and pose a variety of challenges to Red and the gang. There are a couple changes to the make-up and effects for Abe and Liz that perplex me, but they are easily overlooked. Del Toro's script is heavy-handed in foreshadowing, but given the deep characters he's created, it is easily forgiven.

The actors' portrayals are equally impressive. Goss's haughty attitude and impressive acrobatics make Nuada a worthy nemesis for Red. Perlman is still perfect as Hellboy. He delivers a great one-two punch with his combination of brawn and wittiness. Granted, some of his one-liners are a little weak, but are you gonna be the one to tell the big guy he shouldn't be so cheesy? Besides, hearing Hellboy utter 'oh crap' mid-battle instead of always having the perfect turn of phrase is what makes him so damn endearing. Blair's Liz is vastly improved from her minor role in the original. Abe Sapien (Doug Jones, Pan's Labyrinth; Voice: David Hyde Pierce, A Bug's Life) is also given a hefty subplot and much more screentime to admire his fantastic makeup. It's a film where you get the feeling everyone is having a lot of fun, especially when Manilow reverberates through the halls.

Dirty Undies
The fight sequences are intricately choreographed yet not overly bloody, nor do they need to be. Del Toro's eye for action makes you almost feel the brute force behind every blow from Hellboy's red right hand, every ground-shaking blast from his Samaritan sidearm. When that quality of action mixes with the amazing visuals, the team's mild cursing and just plain funny stuff, the results are oh-so-satisfying.

The Money Shot
Prince Nuada wants the humans to cower before his superiority. Hellboy desires to be at the center of the public's adoring eye for his heroics. When the two collide, the result is fun and excitement for everyone. What makes it even better is that del Toro, in an effort to keep the franchise viable, inserts so many subplots that future installments will not only be necessary, audiences will demand them!

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  1. What did you think of the pregnancy storyline?

    I don't read the comic, so I don't know if it's just directly from that, but I was kind of excited to see it introduced... and then it kinda fizzled.

    Anyway, I was hoping it would be something that Del Toro would use to connect with the audience... but then I was dissappointed.

  2. I've only read some of the comics so not sure if it fits in the continuity or not.

    I was excited about the pregnancy angle but it didn't bug me too much that they just left it dangling. I assume that story, the Krauss history, and Hellboy's Angel of Death prophecy were all potential stories for the future installments.

    Since Hellboy had nearly been a lost franchise until Universal picked it back up, I figured Del Toro was doing all he could to make it sound interesting and keep it alive. Can't blame him to want to keep working, esp on a story he enjoys.

  3. Hellboy 2 was a vast improvement over the original. I'm glad I sat down to watch it.

    The pregnancy subplot was weak but my be the foundation for something bigger later. We'll see.

  4. My guess is the pregnancy subplot, along with a few others side mentions, was del Toro's way of edging another sequel onto his future projects list. I hope it works.