Guillermo del Toro returns to the comic franchise Hellboy and he has crafted a fantastical, action packed, and hilarious film that is the best live action entry of the Summer and possibly the year.
I can not sing the praises of this film enough. This film opens with a young Hellboy being read a bedtime story to him by Prof. Broom about the indestructible Golden Army built by the elves of ancient earth to help fight the humans during their ancient wars. After their original and only use, the Golden Army massacred the humans and the Elvin King who controlled them deemed them too powerful, splitting the crown which controls them into three pieces; much to the chagrin of his son Prince Nuada (Luke Goss). The King gives one piece to the humans as a truce and the elves move to the forests of the world, not to interact with the humans way of life, Nuada retreats into exile in protest, vowing to return when his people needs him most.
Flash forward a few millennium to present day, Nuada has returned, reclaiming the lost piece of the Golden Crown hostilely at an auction and drawing the attention of Hellboy (Ron Perlman) and the rest of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. The team is roughly the same, minus Myers thankfully, plus one new member, Johann Krauss, an ectoplasmic disembodied spirit that embodies a suit when he is a tangible person instead of a floating mist. Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) is back, and has a crush on Nuada’s sister Nuala, while Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) and Hellboy seem to be having relationship issues the can be a bit “explosive.” Manning (Jeffery Tambor) has more of an active role in setting up campaigns for the team while still trying to cover up the exploits of Hellboy on YouTube.
I won’t really go much more into the plot as this film pretty much hits the ground running as soon as the team investigates the auction house Nuada massacred. The film is full of life though, del Toro has greatly expanded on the fantasy of the Hellboy universe and the world is just endlessly populated with cool monsters and wonderful creatures that give the series a new depth and imagination that it is capable of. You can tell Universal gave del Toro free range and put their confidence behind him as he has crafted one of the better fantasy film worlds in recent memory which has allowed him to craft one of the finest comic book adaptations to date.
Del Toro’s look to this film is also just beautiful, there is always something imaginative and creative happening on screen and it just leaves one awed on a number of occasions. The opening bed time story is told through an awesome animation that looks like a mix of stop motion and puppeteering that really stands out and helps you look past the only hiccup in the movie; which is the actor’s portrayal of young Hellboy, it just didn’t feel right for whatever reason. The Golden Army is just awesome, and when it comes to the big fight with them the effects work is just amazing. Speaking of fights, the film is full of them, they just keep coming one after another with a total of 6 major fight scenes (and that’s not counting the times Hellboy just punches the shit out of a few characters) sprinkled throughout if my memory serves me correctly, with each getting better as you go. The effects work is also top notch like I previously mentioned, with the CGI and the animatronics work (which there is a ton of) just looking grade A almost all the time. It is also a breath of fresh air to see so much practical effects work in this film, and it goes to show that it is possible to awesome effects work with out having to do everything on a computer.
The acting in the film is also great across the board. Rob Perlman expands upon Hellboy and makes him even more sarcastic and likable while also taking on even more physical duties on the film. Doug Jones takes over voice and acting duties for Abe Sapien and he does an excellent job as well. Abe has a far meatier role and is consistently funny in his back and forth’s with Hellboy and Manning. The two above mentioned also deserve special props for everything involved in the scene where they bond over there love for women; priceless and hilarious. Selma Blair takes it up a notch as well and remembers how to act at a high caliber. The filmmakers also decide to ramp up the sexy factor on her to bring in the horny boys as well. Luke Goss is an excellent villain in Prince Nuada handling the fighting and acting very well all around. The voice and physical work for Krauss is also very funny as they are able to create such an interesting character that is technically nothing but a white mist. Finally, Jeffery Tambor also improves upon his Manning in an even meatier role providing a fun authority figure for Hellboy to disregard.
But enough rambling praise, in the end, Hellboy II: The Golden Army is an excellent sequel in that it expands on the world while providing a more compelling story now that the origins are out of the way. Hellboy II is hilarious, action packed, and full of endless creativity. Guillermo del Toro has given us an amazing fantasy world to enjoy and one that I hope he gets to come back to after he is done with The Hobbit. Comic book and fantasy fans should not miss, as this is probably going to end up as being one of the best films of the year when it is all said and done.