Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Luke Goss, Anna Walton, Jeffrey Tambor
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and some language.
Parental Notes: The violence is pretty much all comic-book stuff, and if your youngsters aren’t too scared of monsters, they should be fine seeing this. But there are some freaky-looking creatures here, so little kids who find monsters terrifying should definitely stay home.
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army” has all the necessary components of a fun summer flick: action, rich visuals, and a solid villain. It’s not perfect — its pacing could use some work, and too much time is spent on the romantic subplots to suit this reviewer — but if you’re looking for a fun action-fantasy movie or enjoyed 2004’s “Hellboy” and want to spend more time with the characters, “Hellboy II” is worth seeing.
The film picks up not too long after the last one left off. Hellboy (Ron Perlman, “Outlander”), a demon raised by humans, and Liz (Selma Blair, “Feast of Love”), a fire-starter, are an item, and Liz has even moved into Hellboy’s quarters at the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. All is not sunshine and roses, however, as Hellboy is a fairly terrible roommate and Liz has a bit of a temper. But they do their job, along with psychic fish-man Abe Sapien (Doug Jones, “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer”) and the human agents of the BPRD.
Liz and Hellboy’s relationship issues are superseded by an attack on an auction house — the work of a nasty elf, Prince Nuada (Luke Goss, “Blade II”). He has grown tired of the truce which prevents the elves from reclaiming the forests they used to inhabit, and decided to break it and take back what he sees as rightfully his. He is looking to assemble the pieces of a magical crown which controls a mechanical army — the golden army of the film’s title.
It’s up to the BPRD to stop him — with the help of his beautiful twin sister, the Princess Nuala (Anna Walton, “Vampire Diary”) and new BPRD member Johann Kraus (played by a pair of puppeteers and the voice of Seth McFarlane), an incorporeal Germanic fellow who is a stickler for the rules. There are some good scenes where Kraus’s by-the-book strictness and Hellboy’s utter disregard for regulations clash, but Kraus is ultimately an oddly inconsistent character whose actions when the proverbial stuff hits the fan don’t match his behavior early on. If there’s a “Hellboy III,” hopefully it’ll smooth him out a bit.
Director Guillermo del Toro is known for his visual style, and “Hellboy II” does not disappoint on that front. Every shot is packed with details and visual creativity, from the richness of the Troll Market packed with strange creatures to Hellboy’s cluttered living quarters. The makeup and creature effects are spectacular — the look of the elves is thoroughly inhuman and creepily beautiful, like many of del Toro’s monsters. If you like visual effects, be sure to catch this flick on the big screen so you can appreciate all the little details.
“Hellboy II” has its flaws, but they are fairly small. There are two romantic subplots, Hellboy and Liz and another I won’t spoil by revealing, and both are rather oddly paced. They get too little screentime to develop and too much for a movie whose central plot is about mythological creatures fighting each other. I don’t know about you, but I go to see “Hellboy” movies to watch Hellboy smash and shoot stuff. Him fighting with his girlfriend is a nice bit of character development, but it should be icing on the cake, not a whole layer.
If you’re looking for a great action-fantasy superhero sort of movie, “Hellboy II” will likely hit the spot, especially if you’re a fan of any of the major players involved.