HELLBOY 2: THE GOLDEN ARMY
Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
Guillermo Del Toro
What's it about
Dig this: a formerly proud race of elf creatures is almost extinct. A frustrated prince elf has had enough of an agreement to stay below the earth and wants to rise up and take it out on the human race. Of course, Red and his band of misfits need to put a stop to this. The only problem (besides the giant mechanical Golden Army and other beasts) is that there's a new field manager, a pregnant and moody girlfriend and a world that fears him.
Is it good movie?
Very rarely does a film's sequel surpass the original. I caught this one in theatres and enjoyed it. In fact, I really enjoyed it and thought it was way better than I'd expected and probably was one of the best movies of the summer, behind The Dark Knight (and if you read my article on Batman then you know all about how I felt about that film). Now the DVD is out, and I've had time to re-watch it a few times.
Luckily, my opinion is the same and I have a few theories as to why that is. First of all, I'm not familiar with the comic book at all. So, I don't have much to compare it to; and have less to gripe about in terms of source material.
Secondly, this movie is clearly a Del Toro movie. I guess the first movie is a studio movie that Del Toro directed, but this one is a Del Toro movie that the studio released. There is a lot of fairy tale imagery and beautifully terrifying creatures that look just fantastic. Sure, Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) looks just like the reaper character he played in Blade II with long hair, but I like Del Toro's style, even if it is familiar.
Thirdly, this movie has some substance. The first film was stylish, but seemed to lack a certain something that really held it all together- it felt like one big battle after another with little else tossed in the mix. This one has great characters and they're actually doing something in this movie. I've heard people complain about Abe Sapien's love story with the Princess, but I dug it.
Ron Perlman is a capable character and he absolutely is Hellboy- no one else would bring what he does to the character. Even Selma Blair isn't nearly as bad in this movie as she is in everything else she's ever done; for me to not hate her is saying a lot because I'm not a fan. Also a hoot is Johann Krauss, a Bizarre ghost-like creature who takes over a position of authority in the group. You can never guess what's going to happen next with him, and he delivers some hilarious lines, despite being a relatively cheesy character.
Also, the battle with the elemental tree-like God is awesome stuff with moral consequences. The final battle with the Golden Army doesn't last long enough and they should have gone to the surface, but they are a badass group of individuals and the fight is just great.
Video / Audio
Video comes in 1.85:1 and looks fantastic. I've seen the Blu-Ray and it's flawless, but this is as good as DVD will ever look.
Audio is Dolby 5.1 and also sounds great booming through your stereo speakers.
Let's dig in to these extras, shall we? Almost everything has an intro from Del Toro- neato!
We begin with two commentary tracks- one with Del Toro, the other with Jeffrey Tambor, Selma Blair and Luke Goss. Del Toro's commentary is pretty much non-stop although he goes off task and at times is hard to listen to. The cast one is great, with the actors being jazzed about the movie- it's just too bad Perlman couldn't make it to record.
Next we get seven set visits, which are purely studio footage of the film getting made. Nice to see this stuff presented without the gloss, good stuff albeit brief.
Next we get a Troll Market tour, which gives a 12 minute look at how awesome this scene was. It's one of the better scenes of the movie, and this provides some good insight.
We also get a few deleted scenes- about six of them, and they don't run long, only a minute or so each. They're presented with optional audio commentary.
Next up is the 2.5 hour documentary called Hellboy: In Service Of The Demon, and is one of the better documentaries I've seen- if you're not sick of this movie by the time you watch this, you're crazy. Awesome stuff.
You also get the director's notebook, which gives interviews, pictures and scans from Del Toro's notebook.
Production Workshop: Professor Broom’s Puppet Theatre is a great little look into the opening sequence of the film, and really shows a lot of detail with the effects.
Rounding out the disc are a Concept Art Gallery, an Image Gallery and a DVD-Rom Script.
Disc three is a digital copy of the film for your PC or handheld device.
Hellboy II takes everything about the first film and improves upon it. It is a riveting film that will undoubtedly entertain you. The Golden Army sports leagues of interesting characters and nightmarish imagery that will have you coming back to this set over and over again- just the extras could keep you busy for days.