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How You Can Tell It’s Summer At The Movies: Hellboy II: The Golden Army August 5, 2008

Posted by Jim Berkin in Art, Movies.
Tags: , ,

If I’m going to turn my brain off and enjoy a silly cartoon of a movie, I’d better get some dazzling visuals, fast paced action, and most important of all, absolutely NO pretense towards anything deep or meaningful. Hellboy II: The Golden Army certainly fulfills those categories quite well, thank you.

Picking up from where Hellboy I left off, our grown up kitten-lovin’, beer-swillin’, cigar smokin’ horn shavin’ demon from another world (Ron Perlman) works for a not-so-secret government agency that battles monsters. By his side are his main squeeze Liz (Selma Blair) who has the mutant ability to set herself and everything around her on fire, Abe Sapian (Doug Jones) a super intelligent and psychic fish man, and a new member of the team, Johann Krauss, a German scientist made entirely of ectoplasmic gas. Together, they must fight the evil Elf Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) who plans to piece together the ancient golden crown that will give him command of the Golden Army of self-repairing mechanical goblin-designed robot soldiers who will lay waste to humanity!

This is based on a true story.

While there are many films out there that fall into the category of “entertainingly stupid,” this one is blessed with the amazing visual sense of its writer/director Guillermo Del Toro, whose Pan’s Labyrinth was one of my favorite films of the past few years. Del Toro’s cinematic monster creations come from his deep deep immersion in the art of Bosch, Goya & Dali and they are an absolute wonder to behold on screen. While they were in service of a more serious fable in Pan’s Labyrinth, they provide mostly action, fright and laughs in Hellboy, but it’s all good. If you’re going to make what’s essentially a movie for the Creature Double Feature, it will be the look and personality of those creatures that will carry the day.

Del Toro comes up with some great stuff here – an opening set-up to the mythic world back story depicted with beautiful wooden puppets, a piranha-like infestation of little tooth fairies who chew you up, a troll market filled with a monster population that makes the Star Wars cantina or Total Recall’s mutant town tame by comparison, an absolutely magnificent tentacled angry forest spirit, and a creepy angel of death who may have been right at home in Pan’s Labyrinth. Along with the lost goblin city and the Nuada/Hellboy battle in its turning clockwork gears, this movie is pure eye candy from start to finish.

Granted, I’ve never read the comic book and have only seen both Hellboy movies (and enjoyed them both), so perhaps purists might notice differences in tone here and there – but as a fan of Del Toro, I’ll see anything where he gets to create eerie underground worlds & the monsters therein. It’s like taking a tour through Goya’s black paintings, only everything is moving. It’s also why I can forgive the weakness of the story, the rather blatant product placement, and whenever some humor misfires.

And the hero loves kitties! What’s not to like?


1. alntv - August 5, 2008

I totally agree with you about Del Toro. LOVED Pan’s Labyrinth. Hellboy II was okay…but not as good as the first and really at the bottom of the list as far as comic book adaptations this summer. That being said, I liked your review!

2. Jim Berkin - August 5, 2008

Yeah, I’m not arguing that Hellboy II is a classic for the ages, but since my expectations were pretty much for the same level of creative silliness I got from the first one, I was perfectly fine with it.

I look forward to a “serious Autumn movie” from Del Toro in the future as well!

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