At Your Service: The BDRP is back -- Hellboy (Ron Perlman, center) is flanked by Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and Liz (Selma Blair) in Guillermo Del Toro's "Hellboy II: The Golden Army", which opened on Friday in the U.S. and Canada.  (Photo: Universal Pictures)

Hell's Most Lovable Angel, Back For Another Apocalyptic Face Off

By Omar P.L. Moore/July 12, 2008

Having missed out on "Hellboy" and arriving 18 minutes late to a screening of "Hellboy II: The Golden Army", I can safely declare that this writing probably shouldn't count as a review of the new film by Guillermo Del Toro.  The remaining one hour and 32 minutes of "Hellboy II" however, are a hell-raising howler of a good time at the movies.  Mr. Del Toro, so adept at cultivating visual splendor, opulence and richness ("Pan's Labyrinth") via sublime production design, continues the feat here and makes the characters on the pages of the script he wrote engaging and endearing. 

Hellboy, the most outstanding member of the government organization BDRP, is taking names after kicking ass in his own inimitable way.  Got an ogre to defeat?  Got an imperious warlord capable of trying to take over all of New York City and the ends of the earth?  Then Hellboy's your Red.  (In this U.S. presidential election year, Hellboy would be the perfect national security advocate.)

This time Red (Ron Perlman) and his cohorts in chaos and mayhem have to battle the forces of fatality in Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) and other members of a golden army, a fierce fight troupe determined to conquer the planet for its own ends.  Nuada engages in some regicide and patricide before looking to rid the world of humankind once and for all.  He has a strange kind of love for his sister Princess Nuala (Anna Walton) and is looking for her after she takes an affirmative cue from The Animals ("We've gotta get outta this place -- if it's the last thing we ever do.")  

In Mr. Del Toro's second installment, Hellboy has more to do than just save the world from this monarchal madness; he also has to attend to the predicaments of his leading fellow crime fighter Liz (Selma Blair), who has a little secret for her beau.  Their rapport is entertaining, as are the exchanges between Mr. Perlman and James Dodd (who plays Johann Krauss, a new enlisted member of the BDRP team; Seth McFarlane does the voice of Krauss.)  The interactions between the BDRP members resemble Mr. Del Toro's sense of humor as well as his ability to display characters in his films that are as un-self-conscious as possible.  The director does not nudge and wink at his audience, for he knows that they are far too smart for hijinks and cheap baseless laughs (see "The Love Guru", which floundered at box offices in the U.S. and elsewhere.)  Mr. Del Toro's worlds of wonderment are always unearthed as beautiful, almost heavenly revelation, as precious as a secret that has longed to be unleashed. 

"Hellboy II: The Golden Army" is a sequel that largely delivers and recalls an age of old-fashioned heroism that eschewed excessive plaudits or frills.  Hellboy is a low-maintenance kind of hero and Mr. Del Toro's film echoes its subject, even though there are fabled moments engineered through the astounding landscape of color, dark and light.  Hellboy, for all his unabashed recklessness, is a blue-collar superhero, a throwback to working-class stiffs everywhere.  He is like a sanitation worker who just shows up (with or without Big Baby) and gets the job done.  In Ron Perlman, Hellboy lives and breathes so well.  Unlike Batman, who in feature filmdom has been portrayed by no less than four American actors, it is difficult to see Hellboy played by anyone other than Mr. Perlman, who brings a "whatever" approach to his character without choreography or scripting. 

All the performers do well in their roles, never overplaying their own boundaries either as actors or the characters they play.  In these regards and others, "Hellboy II" is a big winner -- and I didn't even see the first 18 minutes of it.

"Hellboy II: The Golden Army" is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America  for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and some language.  The film's duration is one hour and 50 minutes.  Note: Doug Jones tries his hand at playing three characters in the film, including Abe Sapien.

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