Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Out Now On-Demand
Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) revisits Mike Mignola's comic book creation, bringing his extensive visual imagination and a love of the macabre to the tale. Hellboy (Ron Perlman) is a demon that, after being summoned by and then rescued from the Nazis in WW2, shaved off his horns and grew up to become a defender against the forces of darkness. He works at the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence, alongside amphibious comrade Abe Sapien (former mime, Doug Jones) and pyrokinetic girlfriend Liz Sherman (Selma Blair).
The sequel to 2004's Hellboy sees ambitious Elf prince Nuada declare war on humanity, seeking to discover and unleash the invincible Golden Army. The good guys, this time aided by ectoplasmic German mystic Johann Krauss (voiced by Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane), must stop him at all costs.
- Guillermo del Toro (based on the comics by Mike Mignola)
Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction
Rating: M Fantasy Violence.
Our cigar-chomping, beer-swilling, cat-loving demon and his team (comprising of pyrokinetic girlfriend Liz Sherman and amphibious psychic Abe Sapien) are back on the case when a bunch of people goes missing from a central-city auction room. They follow the creature-laden trail to Prince Nuada, an ambitious Elf who longs to reawaken the legendary Golden Army (based in Northern Ireland, of all places) and gain power over the human race.
Even if this plotline often borders on the conventional, visionary director Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) keeps the spectacle sparking, working his imagination into overtime by creating a world full of weirdly wonderful creatures. The Troll Market scene, in particular, is packed with blink-and-you'll-miss-them beasts so distinctively original that it's almost a shame to have them hidden away in the background.
And although fantasy epics have never been renowned for their light touches, Hellboy II zings along with a humorous energy. Ectoplasm-in-a-suit team leader Johann Krauss is a scene-stealer thanks to Seth 'Family Guy' MacFarlane's droll vocal delivery. A certain drunken sing-along gives the ribs a good tickle, too.
Ron Perlman is note perfect as the grizzly Hellboy. And while Selma Blair's smoking hot (literally) Liz Sherman gets sidelined a bit, she's only making way for the studious Abe Sapien, whose expanded presence here is most welcome.
Hellboy II might not quite take Batman's crown as 2008's best comic-book movie, but it's right up there in the enjoyment stakes. With this much colour, flair and fun spilling out of every frame, Guillermo del Toro's tall tale is a real joy. Roll on, The Hobbit.
Reviewed by Andrew Hedley.
Empire Magazine [UK]
New York Times
Rolling Stone [USA]
Stuff.co.nc [Chris Schulz]
The Press [Charlie Gates]
I was really looking forward to this after the first installment and the mix of Del Toro's creatures (loved Pan's Labyrinth) had me in double excitement. My expectations then were far too high. I'm so glad I didn't talk anyone into coming with me because this movie just missed the mark. Other guys who had no doubt come for the pace and spectacle were leaving the cinema but I stuck it out. The creatures were great but the movie lacked pace, its excessive dwelling on HellBoy and his fishy friends' mystification over their love interests was annoying and tedious. The German ghost in a diving suit was wince material. My suspicions arose when the historical intro was presented with CG wood doll puppets and the rest confirmed my fears. This movy was in no way seamless - nothing fit and the plot was boring. How sad after all that beautiful and amazing creature work went into it.
Fun all the way
Fun all the way
I liked this a lot. It's nowhere near as Gothic as the comics, and if anything, it's lighter and funnier than the first one. But although I like the comics, I think I actually prefer to see something lighter in a movie.
Del Toro's visual imagination (as well as his preoccupation with intricate machinery) are both served well here - there are some great critters / monsters on screen.
Perlman's Hellboy is simply terrific. Selma Blair is somewhat underused, as is Jeffrey Tambor - both got a substantially better deal in the original movie - but this is very much Doug Jones' Abe Sapien's movie. This man has to be the best mover in movies - Abe is so expressive despite his only moving facial feature being his mouth.
The story is serviceable without being stunning, and Luke Goss does a satisfactory job as villain.
But it's fun, and never takes itself seriously for a moment.