‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army’: Heck of a good time

Tue, 07/15/2008 - 5:26pm
By: Michael Boylan

Guillermo Del Toro is a visionary director with a style all his own. His “Pan’s Labryinth” won him critical acclaim and many new fans, both of his Spanish language thrillers and his U.S. blockbusters. “Hellboy II” is his return to movie-making for a mass audience and it is a dazzling and dizzying ride through his imagination and the imagination of “Hellboy” creator Mike Mignola.

If you didn’t see the first “Hellboy,” don’t worry about it. Del Toro catches you up quickly and lays out the story for this film with an incredibly cool animated adaptation of a fireside story narrated by John Hurt. Basically, all the magical creatures, who were pushed to the side by humanity, warred with the humans thousands of years ago with the help of an army of medieval robots (it’s neater than it sounds) before a truce was brokered. A prince who was angered since this decision is out to take the crown that can control the army and start another war with humanity. Hellboy and his friends at the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense are out to stop the bad guy and save the world.

The film has a terrific sense of humor that eases audiences in at the beginning, getting them ready for an adventure filled with nefarious tooth fairies (not the kind that leave dimes under your pillows), gigantic, tentacled monsters, and generally more fantastic creatures than you’ve seen since the cantina scene in “Star Wars.”

Ron Perleman is funny and charming as Hellboy and Selma Blar is hot, literally, as his pyrokinetic wife, Liz. They are joined by Abe Sapien, a.k.a. Fishstick, an empath with gills, and Johann Kraus, an ectoplasmic spirit who survives in a containment suit. Kraus is voiced by “Family Guy” and “American Dad” creator Seth McFarlane and is a hoot, especially in a small, fight scene with Hellboy in the B.P.R.D locker room.

“Hellboy II” is just tons of fun. Del Toro keeps things moving and there is a lot to look at. The background jokes early on as the characters travel through the hallways of B.P.R.D. are priceless and the creatures get more fantastic as the film goes on. The first “Hellboy” was a fine movie, but Del Toro, who is now off to helm “The Hobbit,” is swinging a hot bat and he knows it. He is confident in his style and he is clearly having fun with the material with this film.

It may not be able to stand up to “The Dark Knight,” which opens Friday, but it is a worthy comic book movie and summer blockbuster.

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