Predictably, it’s Golden Army time. I want you to know it was very hard for me to avoid all the Hell, fire and devil puns last time and it will be doubly hard this time. Just so you appreciate what I do for you people…
I had a horrible feeling that “Hellboy II” was going to suck Satan’s willy. Having been made a fan of the whole Hellboy mythos by the first film and despite my excitement at the news a sequel was going to be released, I had that horrible niggling doubt that it would try and be *shudder* bigger and better. After all, we are all aware of the fact that no matter how good the first film is, there is always room for someone to balls it up.
The story follows Hellboy (Ron Perlman) who is struggling in his relationship with Liz (Selma Blair). Amid the domestic troubles, an evil prince- Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) plans to awaken “70 times 70” massive, mechanical soldiers known as the Golden Army to get back at humanity. Once again, it’s a decent story with enough depth and opportunity for decent scenes and exchanges. Again, Perlman is great as Hellboy, enough said. This time round, I have a slight problem with Abe Sapien (Doug Jones). I still love the character, but in this film he’s not voiced by David Hyde Pierce, but Jones as well. They have similar voices, but I can’t help but feel that Abe would be even better with Niles Crane’s distinctive voice. All this is not to discredit Jones, who does a fantastic job embodying not only Abe Sapien but the characters of the Chamberlain and the terrifying yet oddly beautiful Angel of Death. I thought Goss’ villain was very good and I was able to look past the fact that he was British because he was so badass. My dislike of voices seemed to be the theme of this film as I loved BPRD newcomer Johann Krauss but I hated the stupid stereotypical German accent Seth “Family Guy” MacFarlane gave him.
The thing that first struck me about the film is its design. Normally I couldn’t give two fucks about design except in films like the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, but “Hellboy II” demanded my attention. It’s jaw-droppingly beautiful. It’s not just the sets and locales either. The characters are remarkably well-designed-to get an idea of what I mean, check out the design on a creature called The Tooth Fairy –kind of cute, eh? Wait ’till you see what it can do to a person. There’s a troll marketplace scene where I wished I had more than two eyes to take in everything that was happening. I think I even saw one creature carrying round a giant set of dentures, I kid you not.
There are some great scenes too. There is a fantastic flashback where Professor Broom (John Hurt) is telling the young and ridiculously toothed Hellboy the story of the Golden Army in the form of crude wooden dolls. It’s fantastically done and really draws you in. My favourite (non action) scene is the drunken sing-along to Barry Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You”. It’s genuinely funny and nice to see a change of pace amidst all the prophecy talk and such. The scene where Hellboy (Invisotexted) kills the Forest God is achingly beautiful and surprisingly sad at the same time.
There are some bad points too. I didn’t like the sloppy way they dealt with the character of Myers not appearing in this film as I really liked him in the first one. The film also seems to be ripping off “Men in Black” in places, especially the first walkthrough of BPRD headquarters with all sorts of weird demon stuff going on in the background. I felt that after “bigging up” the supposedly invincible and unstoppable Golden Army they were dealt with pretty quickly. In terms of nit-picks, why wasn’t Liz’s fire blue like in the first film? I thought it was a nice original twist on the whole fire thing in the original, but now she looks like a Human Torch wannabe.
In broad terms “Hellboy II” is pretty much an amalgam of “Blade II” and “Pan’s Labyrinth”- and yes, that is a recommendation. See it and then be pleased that the man who directed this is working on the forthcoming film adaptation of “The Hobbit”. Permission to be excited granted.