July 11, 2008

300 Words About: Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Side effects of drinking Tecate Light may include ruby red skin and a violent temper.

On a scale of 1 to 10, my desire to see Hellboy II: The Golden Army went from zero a few months ago, to five in the last few weeks, to seven in the last few days, and, finally, to eight as I was taking my seat. I haven't seen the first Hellboy, you see, but the right people had been championing it as the right mix of fantasy, action, and comedy.

Based on the sequel I would say they're, well, absolutely right, especially about that last bit. In fact I don't know of a film in this "genre" that has been this funny since Men In Black - which it turns out actually wasn't that funny, as much as TBS insists it was. As the title character, Ron Perlman (work much, dude?) is hilarious, and his sidekick Abe Sapien (Doug Jones, who is on thin ice here having been in two of my top 5 worst movies ever) has all the polite charm of an aquatic C-3PO.

I'm making Hellboy II sound like a comedy, which, while true, can distract from the other highly impressive aspect of this film: the stunning visual effects and production design, thanks to director Guillermo Del Toro, master of the underworld. Although I was a little disappointed to see such obvious similarities to the sets and characters of his Pan's Labyrinth, Del Toro has to be considered a leading visionary in producing terrestrial creatures.

Increasingly, his attachment to direct the upcoming Hobbit movies is sounding more and more enticing. Seeing these creatures in action is an even more amazing spectacle, and the killer beanstalk scene halfway through Hellboy II puts to shame every similar moment in Cloverfield, Iron Man, and The Incredible Hulk.

Unfortunately, it's after that scene that Hellboy II starts to lose momentum, turning into a somewhat predictable race against time/climactic battle (don't forget the movie's subtitle). We can enjoy the effects along the way, but we also start to notice that we're just not having as much fun anymore, or at least not as many laughs. I can't go too far in tackling the plot as I'm ignorant of both the original film and comic book, but suffice it to say, I'll mostly be looking forward to Hellboy III for its visual wonders.

Even so, I somehow ended up enjoying this one more than any of the other superhero movies of the summer so far. Whaddya got, Batman?


  1. Daniel-

    What did you think about the "Barry Manilow" scene? The audience I was with seemed to get a kick out of it, but I found it to be really dated and misplaced humor - even in a film that's, admittedly, pretty bizarre.

    Plus, the drunkenness of the scene kept going on and on...

  2. I thought the first 30 seconds of it were pretty funny, but I agree that the song was a little long and the drunken revelry became almost as stale as Hellboy's beer. Especially with no payoff - he was sober within a matter of seconds!

  3. I loved the Manilow scene, but I'm a sucker for goofy music moments. It fits with the odd humor/upbringing of Hellboy and the BPRD.

    Glad you enjoyed HB2, to me it was better paced and more well-balanced than the first. It was also a flick you didn't have to see the first to enjoy it.

  4. Hey Wayward-

    What is BPRD??

    I heard two or three dudes mention that at the screening and I was confused.

  5. Right, wayward, all of that BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) stuff was MIB-goofy. And as far as enjoying it even after missing the first one, well you're right on.

    Somehow, though, I don't think I'm going to make a major effort to catch up. This one was just good enough to make me respect the success of the franchise and leave it at that.

  6. If it's an improvement on the first, I'm there.

    Hell, I'm there no matter what, like most people.

  7. @Daniel g.- I liked the first movie, but sounds like you'd be fine to wait until Hellboy 3-D in 2011, haha.

  8. Thanks for the informative 300 words Daniel. They, together with del Toro's presence, have encouraged me to at least watch the film on DVD.

  9. See it's weird that I'm starting to hear more people cool on the first one all of a sudden, Nick. All I'd heard lately was rabid cheering.

    Ooh, I didn't think about 3-D, Wayward! Del Toro's creatures alive in the theater? That's the stuff of nightmares.

    Sartre, don't count the words, please, haha. As you surmise, the characters and humor are good enough for DVD, even if the effects don't look as spectacular as they would on the big screen. Besides, Del Toro is Del Toro.

    Thanks for dropping in again!

  10. "the killer beanstalk scene halfway through Hellboy II puts to shame every similar moment in Cloverfield, Iron Man, and The Incredible Hulk."

    Amen, brother. I was just telling Mrs. Fletch that one of the great things about Del Toro's flicks is that, though he uses CGI, he DOES IT WELL. Unbelievable as some creatures may be, they don't scream "I'm fake!" as you watch them. I was impressed with the "Wink" character and the beanstalk, especially. The tooth fairies...maybe not so much. But the point still stands.

  11. Yeah to be honest those urban battle scenes did very little for me. This one, besides looking WAY better than those, was also "choreographed" in a more entertaining way, if I'm allowed to use that word.


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