THE POPCORN REEL FILM REVIEW/"Hellboy II: The
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
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
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.
Copyright The Popcorn Reel. PopcornReel.com. 2008. All Rights