Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

February 8, 2009 § Leave a comment

I remember thinking the first Hellboy had a routine plot, but a lot of refreshingly original moments along the way, like a plain old Christmas tree with funky ornaments.  The sequel is similar, except that  writer / director Guillermo Del Toro appears to have had licence to be even more imaginative with his cherished dreamlike fantasy figures, making the sequel an improvement. It isn’t too surprising he was trusted more, given the success of the first Hellboy (2004) where he played the same roles, as well as Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) in between.  And you won’t regret taking a look back at The Devil’s Backbone (2001) either, perhaps the only poetic horror / suspense film I’ve ever seen.

As I’ve suggested, the plot isn’t complex, involving an angry elf warrior dude who thinks humans have wasted their control of the earth creating “parking lots and shopping malls,” (it’s a bit hard to argue with that) and wants to beat the world to a pulp using the golden army and start over.  The action is impressive, as well as clean and easy to follow, unlike the slightly frantic Quantum of Solace (recently reviewed here), and all the acting is solid. Ron Perlman deserves some kind of makeup medal — the man has probably spent thousands of hours in the chair, from TV shows like Beauty and the Beast to these kinds of films, and of course he has a great voice.  Despite layers of makeup he makes Hellboy into the Tom Waits of superheroes, reluctantly kicking the crap out of things with the fervent wish he could just go home and drink a beer.  “My body is a temple,” a sidekick says.  “Well, now it’s an amusement park,” he replies, handing him a beer.

Ultimately, I think Del Toro should really be making more meaningful films (along the lines of some of the ones he has made already) but a little like Tim Burton making two Batman films, it’s kind of nice to have someone with their own unique style doing this series.  It never seems to last too long, but the results mean more lasting films instead of a couple of summer blockbuster throwaways.

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