Hellboy II: The Golden Army is the second del Toro Hellboy film, and it assumes you’ve seen the first one. There’s no setup, hardly any introduction (there’s a little bit) and it gets straight into the action. I like that, if you wanted character intro’s for the lesser characters you had the chance to watch the first one before you went to the cinema.
HB2TGA (can’t spend the entire review writing Hellboy II: The Golden Army) is visually amazing. I believe; I believe this stuff exists somewhere and del Toro just took a camera along. The special effects make this film work, they make you truly believe. The pace is good although the overall film felt a little shorter than I would have liked. The script is snappy and isn’t going to impress your literature teacher, but if you went in to this movie expecting anything deep, you weren’t watching the same trailers as me in advance. Character interplay is solid enough, however I think the Liz Sherman character was underused. There’s a shot towards the end of the movie with her and Abe standing around looking useless while Hellboy and another character do their thing, and I wondered if it wouldn’t have been possible to use her a bit more.
Speaking of ‘another character’, there’s a new addition to the team in this outing and he’s entertaining and interesting, but I do wonder if it detracted from the original team of three a little – I always get edgy when movies have too many main players.
The action scenes are excellent overall, and we get to see Hellboy showing more than just ‘crush ’em’ type combat skills, which was nice. Despite several good goes there still wasn’t much of a sense of threat to Hellboy or the major players though; but there were some subtle references to his destiny and Liz having to make some choices that may affect it.
There are two particularly good comic sequences (more than two in the movie, but two stand out) which had most of the cinema laughing out loud.
The bad guy is multi-faceted and well played, there is certainly no caricature of evil here, but a complex individual with specific morals and the drive to obtain his desire at the expense of the human race. I had read a review or two complaining about the ‘echo-warrior’ bandwagon, which is basically complete tosh. The sentiment expressed by the Elven Prince is a long-standing theme in celtic fantasy and celtic real-world crossover fantasy in particular. The elven princess is equally well played in my view and entrancing.
I came home after seeing it, determined to write a blog post about people releasing trailers containing footage not in the final movie and how it annoys me. There was, I believed, a shot in one of the trailers I’d seen of the Prince in a room full of other elves and mythical beings calling for war and being given a good reception. It implied the Prince had a lot of backing and support, and that was missing from the film (you’ll see). So I got in, and watched all three trailers – and of course the scene isn’t there. I can see why I got that impression, and I recognised all the bits they had put together. I don’t know if they intentionally decided to give that view, when it’s not there in the film, but I guess I can’t complain about entire scenes that were missing when they never existed in the first place. It does say something interesting about how trailers and moving images can leave vivid impressions about something that never existed.
Anyway, this is a high quality movie with stunning visuals, a more than average complexity villain and some real laugh out loud moments interspersed with exciting action. If you can only go and see one movie this year, go and see The Dark Knight, but if you can see two, make this one a choice high up on the list.