Review: Hellboy II
PLOT: Whats a cat loving, big red dude supposed to do? First off, him and his girlfriend are having issues. And then, he has a new head honcho on the team stirring up all sorts of bad blood. But it all goes from bad to worse when he finds himself trying to protect all of humanity from some Prince Nuada. But the prince also has a sister named Princess Nuala who seems to have a thing for fish men. Yep, It looks like good ole reliable Abe may have found a girl for him. But with the prince and a legend involving a Golden Army that can bring the downfall of man, Hellboy has a whole lotta trouble he needs to straighten out.
Is it any surprise that Guillermo del Toro can create a stunning and beautiful world of monsters? If you look at his past work, even the movies that werent necessarily classics, they still have a strong visual sense. HELLBOY 2: THE GOLDEN ARMY is no exception. This time around, the beasties are even more fantastic, but more importantly, the Hellboy humor is even sharper. It seems that the regular cast of characters including Hellboy (Ron Perlman), Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and Tom Manning (Jeffrey Tambor) return and seem more comfortable than ever before. Each one of them turn in very convincing performances. This is not a case of actors just riding it out because their contracts insisted on it. Each one seems to revel in the quirky world Guillermo has created.
One of the most interesting aspects of the film is the villain, Prince Nuada (Luke Goss). His reasons for raising a Golden Army, one which could destroy an entire civilization, are almost noble. He also shares a deep connection with his sister, Princess Nuala (Anna Walton). You could call their relationship a sort of balance between good and evil. But really, there is very little good or evil, not even right or wrong. After all, they only want to be able to live free and not be judged in a world that has become utterly human. I always appreciate how Guillermo explores the idea that sometimes, the beasts are not all that beastly on the inside. And this story is helped by Goss and Walton who both feel very natural and yes, sort of human, even under all that make up.
I mentioned how much I liked the humor even more this time around. It may be that the relationships have grown and now that Liz is more comfortable with who she is, she has a bit more time to nag Red. In fact, they feel as much like a real couple as they possibly could. Well, as real as a big red hell spawn and a girl with some groovy fire power could possibly be. The little personal touches with each character are very nice, whether it be Red and his love of cats, or Abe and a possible new found romance and his musical taste. In many ways, I think this would have been just fine as some bizarre romantic comedy. Well, if it werent for the possible downfall of humanity and such. I also enjoyed the addition of Johann Krauss (voiced by Seth McFarlane). He was able to add a little bit of tension to the close family of misfits. One of the best moments involves Johann egging Red on just a bit too much. Seriously, this is pretty damn funny.
Okay, I thought that this was a really beautiful world with a lot of humor and heart. In a way, that brought up my problem with the film. I never really felt that there was any real danger. There was no surprise in regards to who makes it and I didnt feel as much tension as I would have liked. Dont get me wrong, the big battles and the climatic ending are very well shot, but it felt more like one of those cliffhangers where you just somehow knew it would be all A-Okay. This and some of the pacing in the middle section felt a bit off to me. And for a fairly short film, I began to feel the length a bit. Yet, you cant not appreciate the wonderment that Guillermo sustains. He really knows how to make something dark and dangerous, extremely beautiful.
With a few minor complaints, I still enjoyed this trip back to the Hellboy universe. The beasts are sometimes reminiscent of del Toros absolutely brilliant PANS LABYRINTH, especially the Angel of Death (also Doug Jones). All these creatures, large and small, make for a really fantastic world. It seems that del Toro and Spectral Motion are a match made in movie monster heaven. And watch out for those Tooth Fairies, they may be cute but they are nasty little critters. My rating 7/10 -- JimmyO
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