Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writer: Guillermo del Toro, Mike Mignola
Cast: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Jeffrey Tambor, Luke Goss, Anna Walton, John Hurt, Seth MacFarlane
Running Time: 120 min.
By JJ Hatfield
In some ways Hellboy II: The Golden Army surpasses the first movie especially when it comes to creatures of all sizes and personalities. Director Guillermo del Toro deserves much of the credit for making the movie such a success. From this work and others it is quite clear del Toro loves creating fantastical beings and over-the-top action. And fans love the result!
As the film unfolds we are treated to an amazing array of acrobatic fight sequences and dazzling special effects. In the first movie we learn of Hellboy’s origins therefore no need to go over that ground again. Well okay, so there may be some of you who missed Hellboy the first time around. His origin is from, uh Hell. He’s big, red, has filed down horns, one arm made of stone – or should that be brimstone? And he has a long tail. His friends call him Red and fortunately for the world he’s a good guy, with a soft heart although the bad guys would vehemently disagree.
The Golden Army begins with the young Hellboy watching Howdy Doody on television. When his kind and nurturing adoptive father insists it’s time for bed he demands a bedtime story. His father acquiesces and tells him the tale of early times when humans and supernatural creatures fought endlessly and viciously. The Royal ruler commanded an undefeatable army be built to destroy the humans. A glittering crown consisting of three interlocking pieces was used to control the massive legion of 70×70; the Golden Army. After many humans had been slaughtered the King regretted his actions and sent the undefeatable army into hibernation and allowed mankind to possess the cities while the mystical beings inhabited the forests. To ensure lasting peace the King gave one piece of the crown to the humans while keeping two in the royal family.
After the bedtime story the movie shifts to modern day. Prince Nuada never agreed with his father in allowing humans the cities, indeed he never felt the humans should be allowed to live at all. His sister Princess Nuala believes her father was right and will not help the Prince with his evil plan. The Prince is in Manhattan looking for the crown. Nuada is white-haired, unearthly pale and really old. Despite that he is an expert fighter and very good with sharp objects. His first attempt to find the crown brings out some of the most vicious yet coolest creatures in the movie-the Tooth Fairies. Tiny little winged creatures they feed on calcium which doesn’t sound too bad except that humans have an awful lot of calcium and the little critters seem to prefer their food warm and fresh. This nasty attack calls for Hellboy and his buddies from the Paranormal Research and Defense organization. Our talented friends fare better than the humans who accompany them.
During another crisis created by Prince Nuada Hellboy and his friends come out to the public while saving the day. It isn’t really intentional just something that happens during the call of duty. Even though he saves the city from a giant plant Hellboy is nearly killed by the authorities for his trouble. He even receives taunts from the crowd including a mother who wants to know what he’s done to her baby when in reality he saved the child’s life. In a moment of self-deprecating humor Hellboy says to someone in the assembled throng that he knows he’s ugly.
One of the greatest scenes in the whole film comes when the heroes visit the Trolls Market. There they encounter a huge assortment of various creatures, bizarre merchants with even more bizarre wares to sell. A viewer could spend a considerable amount of time just looking at the creatures including a talking tumor. Not since the tavern scene in Star Wars has there been such an assembled group of fascinating beings the likes of which you find in Hellboy II. It Isn’t done as the act of stealing but rather an homage. Even the music occasionally is reminiscent of Star Wars. This in no way detracts from the film but accents the style of action.
Ron Perlman reprises his role as Hellboy. His crime fighting friends include Abe Sapien played by Doug Jones. Abe is rather a gentle spirit, making his friendship with Red seem unlikely. However the viewer gains some insight into their relationship as they become intoxicated and sing a duet of a Barry Manilow love song. It may sound absurd but it’s really quite touching. Red’s lady love, the fiery Liz Sherman is played by Selma Blair. Everyone in the cast turns in a believable performance, considering this is a comic book turned film. Hellboy II is not exactly a cerebral experience but it is a hell of a lot of fun.
JJ Hatfield’s Rating: 8/10