Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008)
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Review Date: September 02, 2008
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writer: Guillermo del Toro
Producers: Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Joe Roth
Ron Perlman as Hellboy
Selma Blair as Liz
Doug Jones as Abe Sapien
Hellboy and his gang of extraordinary friends return to the big screen as an ancient Prince is prepping to jumpstart an unstoppable “Golden Army” in order to kill all humans and take over the world. Natch! Of course, the Prince has to jump through a few hoops first, including Red and his buddies, whom now have an added member to boot (and he’s German!!). Plenty of fucked-up-looking creatures abound and plenty of fun…ensues.
I have to admit, even though the great Guillermo del Toro was behind this production, I wasn’t expecting all too much in this follow-up to the original HELLBOY film, mostly because I’d heard that this one was gonna be concentrating more on monsters and the fantasy angle, two elements that don’t really crank my woody, but once again Mr. del Toro schooled my fanboy ass, as the film not only surpassed the original Hell-flick, but it entertained the shit out of me, dazzled my stoner-eyes as would a groovy piece of art, and even tossed some realistic relationship stuff in there to boot? Wow! It just sucks that not enough people got to experience this superior comic book movie as THE DARK KNIGHT was released one weekend after its opening, and well…you know the rest. But if you’re a fan of the original HELLBOY, I think you’ll really love this follow-up, as it takes the basic premise and characters from the first film, and tosses them directly into a whole new adventure of their own, along with greater character development (yeah, in a comic book movie!), a ton of new monsters, creatures, trolls and fairies, plenty of engrossing action and yes, even humor and some romantic touches.

I also liked the fact that they got rid of the one element from the first film that I didn’t think worked so well, which was rookie agent Myers. He’s been 86’d from this movie, and in his place, we are given another fun BPRD member named Dr. Johann Krauss, a man without a head who looks an awful lot like the cover of the “BioShock” videogame. He’s voiced by the great Seth MacFarlane here (the man behind “The Family Guy”) and adds yet another fun layer of antagonism to Hellboy’s life, as the two immediately do not get along (Krauss is very anal-retentive, while Hellboy, well…isn’t). We’re also provided with further insight into the ongoing relationship between Hellboy and Selma Blair’s Liz Sherman, and like most regular relationships, the two have started bickering over miniscule things, as they are now living together. One of the things that truly separates the HELLBOY movies from any other comic book movie, is that it’s able to present a bunch of fantastical elements, creatures and circumstances (many of which are reminiscent of similar components from del Toro’s own PAN’S LABYRINTH), but at the same time, is able to insert plenty of day-to-day jokes and petty jealousies into the mix…as per regular human beings. Hellboy is the key to most of that down-home feel, and you gotta continue to give credit to Ron Perlman for truly inhabiting this not-too-smart but relatable and brawny character.

But you can’t discuss this film without stressing the awesome visuals, which despite the use of CGI through most of its scenes, really worked extremely well within this environment. The conclusion to the “giant plant-man” sequence in the streets of New York City alone is “one for the books”. I’m not a big fan of CGI in films, but it totally works in this movie, and I don’t think there was more than a few seconds that I really even noticed it. The world created by del Toro is a wonderful amalgamation between humans and monsters, and even though many of the creatures are grotesque and over-the-top, the dark and plush visuals in this film make it all gel together, and when you mix that into the film’s great use of score and songs, as well as its creative directing and scene transitions, you really have a “comic book movie” that delivers on a variety of levels. Yes, the bad guy isn’t the baddest of them all, and most of the monsters are taken care off pretty easily, but I absolutely loved the Troll Market (imagine the good folks from the Mos Eisley Cantina all living in one fucked up town), want to purchase my own Tooth Fairies for kicks, was amazed watching many of the awesome creatures kick ass on the big screen – including the metallic golden army – and on top of all that, had a vested interest in the lives of the protagonists, namely Hellboy and crew.

Heck, del Toro even managed to conclude the film on a poignant note when all the action was said and done (you go, Abe!), and closed it all on a sure-to-be-classic close-up on Hellboy’s face. Surprise!! I dug it all and feel bad only because I know that del Toro will be in New Zealand for the next 4 years shooting a couple of HOBBIT flicks, so we might have to wait another 5-6 years before another HELLBOY from him…if we see one at all. This movie was created for all those who love Hellboy, anyone who digs on monsters or things that go “thump” in the night, or anyone who wants to be truly entertained by a master director who is at the top of his game. Yes, THE DARK KNIGHT might’ve been the biggest money-making movie of the summer, but HELLBOY 2 deserved a lot more than what it got, so if you haven’t seen it yet, make an effort to check it out as this movie kicks major ass!!! “I’m not a baby, I’m a tumor”. Nice.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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