|Hellboy II The Golden Army |
Actors: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, John Alexander, James Dodd
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Genres: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Hellboy and his pals are back to fight the latest evil plot.
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Let me remind you why you once feared the dark
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 10/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Guillermo Del Toro has become the new master of dark fantasy -- first with the quirky clockpunk "Hellboy," then with the Oscar-winning "Pan's Labyrinth." Not to mention forthcoming travels to Middle-Earth.
So you know he has the skills to pit Mike Mignola's scarlet anti-hero against an army of fairies and elves, and not make it silly. Instead, it's a spectacular dark fantasy full of humor, action, quirky appeal, romance, and some truly astounding special effects. But what really shoves this movie over the top is Del Toro's brilliant direction, and the stunning performance by Ron Perlman.
Decades ago, Professor Broom (William Hurt) told a small Hellboy a yuletide bedtime story about the Elf King Balor and his unstoppable Golden Army, and how the crown that controls the Army was split into thirds and divided among fairies and humans.
Well, you can't really expect that kind of power to never be revived.
Cut to current day. Hellboy (Perlman), Liz (Selma Blair) and Abe (Doug Jones) investigate a strange supernatural attack on an auction house, where the archeological curiosity known as the Crown of Bethmoora was being sold -- only to be attacked by savage tooth fairies. Turns out the crown was stolen by Prince Nuada (Luke Goss), a resentful young elf who is determined to take the world back from humanity -- using, of course, the Golden Army.
And while Hellboy chafes against strict new commander Johann Krauss (a suit filled with ectoplasm), Abe encounters Nuada's sister, Princess Nuala -- who also happens to have the last third of the crown. But Nuada will not allow anyone to oppose him as he searches for the Golden Army's location, and Hellboy and his friends must venture into a strange, ancient kingdom to stop him from destroying all of humanity.
The worst you can say about "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" is that it sticks to the formula of the demonic outsider with a dark destiny, and his continuing romantic woes. There's some retreading as Hellboy realizes anew that he'll never fit into the world of humans, because he's big and red and has horns and a tail. Okay, we got it. Next big psychological issue!
Fortunately those flaws are relatively minor ones. Del Toro is still able to spin a dark, twisted story with some truly bizarre creatures (the utterly alien, eye-winged Angel of Death), clockpunk robots, trippy underground goblin markets and a new BPRD agent who is basically ectoplasm in a suit. And for the action scenes, Del Toro does not pull punches when it comes to the smashing action scenes -- giant thrashing vines and a one-on-one duel with Nuada are among the highlights.
With all this going on, it would be easy to neglect the characters. But Del Toro packs the script with solid snappy dialogue and some poignantly romantic moments -- including some pretty startling actions from dear ol' Abe. And he also adds little moments to this epic story that remind us that these are supposed to be people -- such as Hellboy's bickering with Krauss, or Abe and Hellboy getting drunk and having a little Manilow singalong together. It's just so cute.
But what really sets this movie apart is the "children of the Earth." No flitting Victorian sprites -- these are creatures that are weird, grotesque, dangerous and immensely powerful, from nasty little tooth fairies up to vast rock monsters and plant gods. There's an alien, bizarre aesthetic to these creatures that feels wholly real, as if Neil Gaiman casually dropped a few sketches onto the drawing board.
But as amazing as the visuals are, Del Toro never neglects the characters. Perlman is perfect for the role of "big Red" -- he's gruff, sarcastic, moody, but also endearing and self-deprecatingly likable. There are more hints of his potentially dark future, and he faces some delicately-handed temptations. But Big Red's good heart is still very much in the forefront, no matter how much human beings fear him.
Blair gives a more lively performance here as a spunkier Liz, who also has some surprising developments in store. Jones is pitch-perfect as the fish-man, who experiences the first pangs of young love for Nuala, while Goss gives a chilling, whispery performance as a rebel prince who is willing to do whatever it takes -- even kill family -- if it helps him restore the fey kingdom. Pretty good villain, since he clearly isn't trying to be bad.
There's also loads of extras in this particular edition of the movie -- feature commentary with director Guillermo Del Toro, Jeffrey Tambor, Selma Blair and Luke Goss, as well as some deleted scenes also with commentary with Del Toro, a prologue to the movie, a digital script, image gallery, a "Puppet Theatre" for the opening sequences of the film, concept art, interviews, and other such stuff. Also making-of documentaries -- seven mini-documentaries that visit the set, the "Troll Market Tour" in the movie's most memorable "faerie" setting, and the two-hour "Hellboy: In Service Of The Demon." Basically, it turns the film inside-out and lets you examine its guts.
"Hellboy II: The Golden Army" is a wild, darkly ornate ride through the world of half-forgotten gods and fey. While it has a few flaws, those are far outweighed by the brilliant of Del Toro's vision."
Give `em Hellboy!!
Amanda Richards | Georgetown, Guyana | 07/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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 creatures are at it again
2. One crown rules an indestructible golden army
3. Uneasy lies the head that wants to wear the crown
4. All Hellboy breaks loose after a visit from the tooth fairies
5. The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense sends a gasbag to lead the team into the bowels of New York City
6. Hellboy may be red and angry, but it's Liz (Selma Blair) who's the hottie
7. Big fights, big guns and big fun follows
8. `Twas beauty that tamed the beast
When the BPRD agents are called to take on the job of stopping rogue Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) they get a lot more than the main responsibilities listed on their job descriptions. Battling mythical creatures, disobeying direct orders, and generally tearing the place apart, our heroes never let a little adversity get them down on the way to a stellar showdown.
This is a fantasy, an adventure, a battle of good against not-so-good, and a love story, all rolled into one red hot package.
Rated: 4.5 stars
Amanda Richards, July 23, 2008
Hellboy II - Back And Better Than Ever!
Justin Heath | Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada | 10/11/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"You know you're not watching a formulaic comic book film when one of the highlights is a drunken rendition of "Can't Smile Without You" by Hellboy and Abe Sapien. "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" is a more confident, assured outing than the first film and while it does not draw from Mignola's comics for its plot it is perhaps better off for it, lacking the usual burden of comparison and expectations. "The Golden Army" is more fantastical than the first film and is less sci-fi oriented but this is the sort of thing Del Toro does exceptionally well as a writer. He never lets the fantasy become the focus of the film, instead concentrating on characters and delivering action scenes that can only be described as, forgive the crass immaturity, kickass.
As entertaining as many comic book-to-film adaptations are it is a rare event when one can call one of these films a true artistic achievement. I am convinced without a shadow of a doubt that Guillermo Del Toro's entire career has been leading up to this film, particularly regarding his work as screenwriter here. The comedy feels less forced and is worked incredibly well into the script here, so much so that it doesn't feel remotely unnatural when the scene of comic drunken singing leads directly without a break into one of the film's most intensely dramatic sequences. Del Toro's handling of character has never been better, not even with "The Devil's Backbone", which is still my favorite of his films, and his sheer skill and ability when it comes to telling a fairytale-esquire fantasy is astonishing, as proved in the prologue to this film. In short this is Del Toro at the top of his game and providing artistry the likes of which we rarely if ever see in summer blockbusters. It's only fair that an astonishingly brilliant comic like "Hellboy" by an astonishingly brilliant artist like Mike Mignola is adapted this well and by someone as talented at what they do as he is.
How refreshing it is, a week after the release of "Hancock", which to me epitomizes everything wrong with action film-making today, that we get "The Golden Army" which features hands down some of the finest action scenes we have ever seen in this sort of film. Just stunningly beautiful, well-shot, well-crafted, the sort of thing that leaves one wondering how much time and effort went into it and endlessly thankful that some really talented people went to the trouble of making the film.
The film is generally just superb on a technical level. Why am I even saying this? Of course it is. Danny Elfman composing, Guillermo Navarro serving as cinematographer, top-notch editors, fantastic special effects wizards. It's a world-class crew that made this film. I shouldn't be surprised at its quality but "The Golden Army" really just floored and astonished me with how good it is. The cast is also excellent, proving once again that you don't need 'big names' to carry a movie. Just about everyone here is excellent, particularly Perlman with another excellent turn as Hellboy and the underrated Selma Blair as Liz Sherman.
"Hellboy II: The Golden Army" provides essentially everything a Del Toro or Mignola fan would want. I imagine it will entertain and charm many outside those circles as well with its fantastic action sequences, engaging characters, and wonderful sense of humor. I would personally go as far as calling "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" one of the top five or so comic book movies ever made."
Working class demon returns to find evil, again
Kevin J. Loria | New Orleans, LA USA | 07/14/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
It is good to see Mike Mignola's Dark Horse Comics working-class (SUPER) hero character return...along with most of the cast and original director Guillermo del Toro (now a bankable guy, thanks to PAN'S Labyrinth). Hellboy himself, again played by RON PERLMAN (TV's Vincent of "Beauty and the Beast" from back in the day), who has been under latex pretty much is entire career, infact, Hellboy maybe the closer to revealing his actual face than many of his other roles. But thankfully he returns to his greatest achievement to date...the gruff, working man archetype stogie and all. Of course he is nearly invulnerable, although that invulnerability is tested in the Golden Army as he faces plenty of Fairy folk, the supernatural and monsters for the Bureau of Paranormal Reserch and Defense (the bridge between the MIB and the Ghostbusters). RED is still a cat-lover and feeling under appreciated, ready to break into the public arena to receive to much deserved thanks for "savin' the world" on a daily basis. Selma Blair returns as Liz, the girlfriend who happens to be a "firestarter" aka pyrokinetic. Doug Jones returns as Abe Sapien's faceman empathic body (sounds like he is again voiced by David Hyde Pierce who refused on screen credit last time out of respect for Jones' impressive physical portrayal...so I think this is the case this time...) Abe is the smarts in the team and this time gets a love interest in Princess Nuala, which opens for so great scenes with RED giving advice while the pair get drunk and sing Manilow. Genus and worth the price of Ticket, rental or DVD, whichever the case may be. The great Jeff Tamor is back as the BPRD's resident "suit" New to the team is Johann Kraus a German...well poltergeist in a retro containment suit, voice by Seth MacFarlane, the doctor can inhabit objects and he is sent into BPRD HQ to tighted the reigns on HELLBOY who has blown his covert status and is known to the world now...thus the massive TV ad campaign featuring Big RED on with James Lipton and the Ghosthunters (beautiful, youTube it if you missed it).
The story goes like this, back when HELLBOY was a er...Hell Boy...his adopted father (William Hurt) Prof. Broom told he a bedtime tale about an Elf King Balor and his INDESTRUCTABLE ARMY of clockwork machine-men things....the flashback / story time imagery is lovely stop-action-style puppetry...the war against humans was ceased and the Army controlling crown, broken into three parts....never to be reassembled....buuuut....
The Prince, twin son of King Balor had other ideas....Hellboy and the team must stop him from regaining the crown and sending the Golden Army to destroy man. Beginning at an art auction where the Prince unleashes disturbing swarms of "tooth fairies" to regain part of the crown.
Like it's predecessor Hellboy 2, isn't heavy with computer monster...most of the creatures are amazing costumes and make-up, (overcoming the major flaw in many superhero movies...) The outsider protagonist motif carries well in this one and suits the theme with RED coming terms with what he wants his place in the world to be... while this film is unlikely to win director Guillermo del Toro another 3 Oscars, it is fun and visiually pushes the boundaries of what is the mainstream Superhero genre....much more than you would expect and I am not nearly as worried about Guillermo del Toro's upcoming HOBBIT production...if HB 2 is any indication it is in good hands and I think we may expect a 3rd Hellboy, too.