Blows away the original. Every frame packed with imagination!
Oct 14, 2008
Before going to see HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY, my wife and I sat down a re-watched the original HELLBOY with our 15 year old daughter, because she had not seen it. I truly enjoyed seeing the original film again after a few years, and was once again quite interested in the trials and triumphs of "Red", "Blue," "Liz" and all the others.
So the next night, we went to see HELLBOY II, and frankly, I was nearly blown away. It's a far superior movie. Everything the first film got right, this one gets right again. And what amazes me is that I'm not really a "superhero movie" fan or a "comic book" fan...yet I think these particular characters, as realized by Guillermo del Toro and his team, are marvelous meldings of "mundane" human emotions with outsized powers. Hellboy is incredibly strong, supernaturally durable and also the spawn of the devil. Yet he drinks too much, is too clingy with this girlfriend and has an all-too-human short fuse. Abe Sapien is shy and softspoken...but he also has psychic powers and can breathe underwater. Liz is an attractive but troubled young lady who can set some pretty nasty fires just by thinking about it.
You might say that X-MEN plows the same soil...yet those films, to me, are all glossy surface level efforts. Perhaps it's because there are SO MANY X-Men that few of them are more than assemblages of some character traits. In HELLBOY, we almost forget we're looking at "monsters."
That effect is aided by the fact the Del Toro has concocted some of the most monstrous looking creatures ever seen in a mainstream film. I don't even know what to call his creations...they sometimes look like something from H.P. Lovecraft, sometimes like something from the Cantina in STAR WARS and yes, sometimes like creatures from PAN'S LABRYNTH. But all his creatures are striking to look at and brilliantly executed.
HELLBOY II follows the efforts of Hellboy and his gang to restore the truce that has long existed between humans and "creatures" such as trolls, gremlins, elves and many other far less identifiable "fantastic" beings. The evil Prince Nouda is essentially breaking the truce with man, and intends on ridding the earth of them forever by bringing back to life an army of 4900 giant robots than simply cannot be destroyed and setting them to rampage through our cities.
So often, stories like this just aren't terribly interesting, but I have to say that this one kept me going throughout. Much simply had to do with the imagination with which all the beings are presented. In an early, very striking scene, the Prince confronts his elderly, elf-like father. When the old man dies...his body turns into a stone statue. I know we've seen this kind of effect before...but the feeling this transformation evokes is a lovely mixture of awe at the beauty and dread at the finality of the change.
But thankfully, the world has Hellboy to protect it. He charges into the fray, barely understanding what's going on, but hellbent to kick some butt!! His crush first, ask questions later attitude gets him into trouble, of course...but also wins the affections of the audience. He's like a little kid with some big powers. His is somewhat domesticated by his fiery girlfriend (their relationship has progressed in surprising ways over the years)...but he still can't help letting his big arm fly! The crew is joined by a new "leader" in the form of Johann Krauss, an entity made entirely of gas! Krauss animates an old-fashioned diving suit in order to give himself some shape...but his powers (and his Teutonic arrogance) give the movie a nice jolt. He's a completely new creature. Not physically strong like Hellboy or empathic like Sapien. He's smart and he knows some pretty cool ways to use his gaseous state! He and Hellboy have what amounts to a locker-room showdown that had me and the entire audience in stitches.
I see that I am just going on and on in my review. There's so much more I'd like to share...but I hope you at least get the gist that this is a highly entertaining and worthwhile film. Del Toro is a visionary director. But I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the film is truly made wonderful by the fully-realized and heartfelt performance of Ron Perlman as Hellboy. He'll never get an Oscar for a part like this (not that he should)...but he gets a Summer Movie Season of 2008 MVP award for his very charismatic turn. Selma Blair has never looked better. Doug Jones (Abe) is wonderful in his physicality and the always enjoyable John Hurt even makes an early, welcome appearance. Only Jeffrey Tambor (normally so good) comes off poorly as their befuddled boss. His part is actually written to make him too much of a buffoon, so he's actually only irritating most of the time.
In the best sense, I felt swept away by this film. I am quite eager for Part III!!
Now my feelings are quite different towards the first Hellboy film. I have to admit that although it did have its moments, I found myself becoming bored during the movie. The action sequences were the only relief I felt as when we entered into the emotion sequences I simply found my mind drifting. Guillermo Del Toro's work was completely alien to me until the first Hellboy, now although I did enjoy the original I didn't have many high hopes for the sequel. I guess when he entered into the Hellboy … more
Fans of dark fantasy movies will definitely like this one. If you take Pan's Labyrinth and add more creatures, and then give it an injection of humor, and sprinkle some Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, some Fantastic Four, and a little Lord of the Rings, and last of all let Neil Gaiman put the finishing touches, you'll probably get Hellboy II or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Short Attention Span Summary (SASS): 1. Humans and mythical … more
I am not a comic book super hero fan nor did the first Hell Boy made aparticularly good impression on me. I suppose the reason I went to seeHell Boy II is for the fact Guillermo del Toro, the director of Pan'sLabyrinth is directing the movie, and hence, there would be interestingfantasy characters. The movie sets thestory with the bedtime story read to young Red: the origination of theGolden Army. I thought the depiction of the war using wooden figurinesworked … more
After an ancient truce existing between humankind and the invisible realm of the fantastic is broken, hell on Earth is ready to erupt. A ruthless leader who treads the world above and the one below defies his bloodline and awakens an unstoppable army of creatures. Now, it’s up to the planet’s toughest, roughest superhero to battle the merciless dictator and his marauders. He may be red. He may be horned. He may be misunderstood. But when you need the job done right, it’s time to call in Hellboy (Ron Perlman). Along with his expanding team in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense—pyrokinetic girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair), aquatic empath Abe (Doug Jones) and protoplasmic mystic Johann—the BPRD will travel between the surface strata and the unseen magical one, where creatures of fantasy become corporeal. And Hellboy, a creature of two worlds who’s accepted by neither, must choose between the life he knows and an unknown destiny that beckons him.