Saturday, 26 September 2020
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Thursday, 17 July 2008 00:00

ThumbnailI wouldn’t expect to be using the words “stunning” or “opulent” to describe a comic book superhero movie that is as packed with humor as it is action. But those words are perfect to describe Hellboy 2, which cuts loose a barrage of stunning imagery, along with a witty script for one of the most enjoyable blockbusters so far this year.

I count myself a fan of Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro. As a lover of fantasy and fairy tales, his imagination can be credited some of the most spectacular examples of the genre. From the cult-classic ghost story The Devils Backbone, to the somber fairy tale Pan’s Labyrinth. Despite del Toro’s imaginative touch, the first Hellboy didn’t impress me as much as I’d hoped it would. Which meant I had no idea what a treat I’d be in for when I saw the sequel!

Hellboy, or “Red” to his friends (Ron Perlman) is a massively muscled, beer-swilling guy with a Jersey accent. He also happens to have crimson red skin, a forked tail and some sawed-off horns on his head! Despite his freakish appearance and hot temper Red’s the good guy, and sometimes the planets only hope. Working alongside his girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair) who can burst into flames at will, and his pal Abe (Doug Jones), a telekinetic fish-man, the group saves humans from other paranormal creatures. They are supposed to remain out of the spotlight, but Hellboy is a bit of a rebel and wants recognition and acceptance by the society who shuns him because of his looks.

In this sequel, the elf Prince Nuada has decided to take back Earth from humans by unleashing an unstoppable army of soldiers. His peaceful twin sister Nuala is just as determined to stop him and so joins forces with Hellboy and his team. Packed with incredible imagery, the story takes us from one stunning sequence to another including a “troll market” beneath the Brooklyn Bridge inhabited by such a variety of creatures that it puts George Lucas to shame. A battle between Hellboy and a gigantic plantlike nature god brings across a bittersweet message; that in helping mankind Hellboy is turning his back on creatures that are more like him. By killing them he is destroying a world in which he might belong. Even the villain is a sympathetic character, since all he really wants is to guarantee the future of his race.

ThumbnailDespite the somber undercurrent, del Toro alternates the gloomier moments with plenty of action and hilarious dialogue. In one scene Abe and Red drown their sorrows and sing along with Barry Manilow while discussing relationship problems! A goofy scene like this wouldn’t work in any other movie (just think of Peter Parker strutting to music in Spiderman 3), but here the goofiness hits the perfect note.

I think what impressed me the most was the incredible character design of the many, many creatures that inhabit this world. Beautiful and freakish, some make you wish you could take them home as a pet while others stepped out of your darkest nightmares. And the best part is del Toro’s preference for prosthetics and costumes over computer animation. These creatures live and breathe which makes them all the more awe inspiring to look at. If you want to know what I mean just think of the horrific character “Pale Man” from Pan’s Labyrinth. Now that was a movie monster!

I really loved Hellboy 2. Although the story is nothing really special, the combination of visual effects, acting and script made me not want to tear my eyes away.