Movie Review: Hellboy II

Title: Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Directed by Guillermo del Toro; Written by Guillermo del Toro based on the comics by Mike Mignola; Starring Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Luke Goss and Anna Walton

This Friday, Hellboy II: The Golden Army hit theaters in the USA. I loved the first movie, and had been looking forward to this bad boy for months, and naturally braved the opening night lines to watch it. I am pleased to report that Hellboy II completely lived up to my expectations, and was a wonderful, eye popping extravaganza. I loved it.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army opens with a young, starry-eyed Hellboy with his father, Professor Bruttenholm, on Christmas eve. While Hellboy isn’t much of a looker in adult form, as a young pre-adolescent, he is Awkward–with the capital “A”. His father tells him to brush his teeth, and to get in bed, and in return he’ll tell his son a story. The normalcy and familiarity of the scene–young, anxious kid ready to see Santa and wanting attention and stories from their parents–contrasted with Hellboy’s…well, hellish appearance, is funny yet touching since we see the bond between he and his father, and we know his father’s unfortunate fate from the first film.

Professor Bruttenholm chooses to tell his son the story of the ancient battle between the fantastical world and humans, with the King of the Elves, King Balor, agreeing to the construction of a great Golden Army of 70 times 70 soldiers, who are indestructible (to which Hellboy asks his father, “What means industrible?”), controlled only by a crown wielded by a wearer with royal blood. After slaughtering many humans, however, King Balor’s heart grew heavy with guilt, and he ordered the Golden Army to be dismantled and stored away, and he separated the controlling crown into three parts–two to remain with the elves, and one to remain with mankind. The King’s son, Prince Nuada, however, despairs this decision, and exiles himself, vowing to return when his kind need him most.

The visuals of this storytelling are beautiful–the entire tale is illustrated with wooden puppets, reminiscent of classic Henson fantasy, like the epic The Dark Crystal. In true Guillermo del Toro style, ALL of the visuals and all of the many mythical creatures are not the usual CGI’d blandness, but are slinky, dark and evocative. Think Pan’s Labyrinthdel Toro’s version of Elves and Tooth Fairies are beautiful and grotesque.

Fast-forward to present time, and the BPRD is business as usual–Hellboy is terrorizing his boss and girlfriend Liz, Abe is trying to appease everyone. Meanwhile, Prince Nuada returns from his exile, and steals the human-held piece of the golden crown, taking out many humans while he’s at it. Nuada turns to his elderly father the King, and his twin sister, Princess Nuala, to complete the crown, and take control of the Golden Army. Hellboy and company must prevent the Golden Army from awakening, lest the world be destroyed.

I LOVED this movie. Everything about it worked–Ron Perlman is the perfect Hellboy, with his snide, smart mouthing and devil-may-care nonchalance. Doug Jones also reprises his role here as Abe Sapien (as well as playing the Chamberlain and Angel of Death), and again shows his marvelous work as a movement actor. Selma Blair’s Liz Sherman is much more life-like this time around, as she no longer is a meek zombified shell of a character; her interactions with Red are priceless. The additions of Prince Nuada and Princess Nuala are fascinating as well–Nuada’s role was played to perfection, casting the Elven Prince in almost a sympathetic light despite his desire to unleash the Golden Army on mankind. His powerful grace, the beautifully choreographed fighting scenes with his crazycool extendable spear, was spot on. Both he and his sister, Princess Nuala, looked like creepy dolls left in a bleach bath–and again, this is testament to director/writer del Toro’s understanding of artistic direction.

Similarly, the script holds the perfect blend of comedy, horror and action–del Toro knows what makes a blockbuster work, and Hellboy II is thus far my favorite superhero movie of the year…granted, this title is most likely extremely short lived with The Dark Knight‘s relase this weekend. I found this film to be better than the much lauded Iron Man–the same solid acting, but a better balance of action and much better pacing. There were some lines in Hellboy II (“I’m not a baby, I’m a tumor!”; the “Can’t Smile Without You” drinking scene; “Industrible my ass.”) that had me laughing with glee in the theater.

So, in short–this movie is awesome. Highly, highly recommended! This is a close second for my favorite movie of the summer (falling short only to the Pixar brilliance that is Wall-E).

Rating: 8 Excellent

Now, I eagerly await Thursday, and The Dark Knight!!!!


  • Ana
    July 14, 2008 at 2:32 am

    I read your awesome review and ran to get tickets. Do you want me to tell WHEN this is going to be released in the UK?
    22nd of freaking AUGUST. Yeah, you heard me right. *shifty eyes*

    No one deserves.*cries*

  • Katie(babs)
    July 14, 2008 at 4:57 am

    I guess I should rent the first Hellboy. 😛

  • kmont
    July 14, 2008 at 5:45 am

    This movie was AWESOME! We did get to see it on Saturday and I was just like you; laughing at the same scenes. Actually the entire audience was. That drinking binge with Red and Abe had me in tears almost. Great stuff. I actually snorted when I laughed, really loud and wasn’t embarrassed by it in the least. 🙂

    The intro, where the Professor was doing the bed time story, I found at first to be a disconnect with the rest of the movie, but in retrospect and given it was Hellboy’s adolescent years, it makes sense that it was illustrated so. Amazing, isn’t it, how puppetry can be so moving.

    I was actually wondering at some point if movies one and two were by the same director since Hellboy was so understated compared to this one. I think del Toro was smart though now to kind of ease us into the Hellboy story with the first one and then give us this much more visually suped up and moral tale in Hellboy II. No sophomore slump wit this movie series!

    I just love your movie reviews! I had no idea what a movement actor was or what it meant, but after Googling, I get the actor that plays Abe so much more. I loved what his character(s) did but thanks for that even more in-depth understanding. He is simply amazing.

    Now I just need to know – do I need to see Pan’s Labyrinth? I hear it was a good movie.

  • Thea
    July 14, 2008 at 7:47 am

    Ana–August 22!??!?! Say it ain’t so! That’s awful dude…well, just think of it as sweet anticipation 😉 Watch Hellboy I a few times.

    Katie–Hells yes dude, rent Hellboy! Or, it’s on non-stop on FX recently :p (If you get FX) It’s teh awesome.

    Kmont–Woohoo! So glad you got to see and and loved it too!!! The drinking scene had me rolling in the theater! I need that clip to be up on youtube.

    >I was actually wondering at some point if movies one and two were by the same director since Hellboy was so understated compared to this one. I think del Toro was smart though now to kind of ease us into the Hellboy story with the first one and then give us this much more visually suped up and moral tale in Hellboy II. No sophomore slump wit this movie series!

    I believe that the production companies switched over from Hellboy to Hellboy II; and in this second film, del Toro was given more of a focus on mythology than needing it to be wham!bam!action–and I ain’t complaning! I LOVED all of the creatures in this film, from Mr. Wink (ooooh that fight with Hellboy and Wink was SIIIIICK), to the tooth-fairies, to the cool Troll’s Market 🙂 Loved it.

    And Doug Jones (Abe Sapien) is a brilliant movement actor 🙂 I cannot wait for the Silver Surfer movie next year.

    Oh, and dude, you must rent Pan’s Labyrinth. Haunting, beautiful movie.

  • M.
    July 14, 2008 at 10:51 am

    I’ve been debating my 11y.o.’s request to go see this. What do you think?

  • talia
    July 14, 2008 at 11:13 am

    woohoo! i’m going to try to force someone *cough, tara* to go watch it with me now.

    i’ll rent out hellboy 1 in preparation 🙂

  • kmont
    July 14, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Ahhh, thank you, Thea, for clarifying re the production companies. That would make perfect sense and I needed that reminder that there are a lot of minds and hands in on these monstrously scoped projects. I enjoy both so much, for different reasons and that certainly is NOT a bad thing. We watched Hellboy last night simply because I could not get enough Red!

    And I’m putting Pan’s Labyrinth in my Amazon wish list. Cross your fingers hubby will watch it with me, else it’ll be a loooong time till I can get alone time to see it.

  • Thea
    July 14, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    M. I definitely recommend taking your 11 yo to see this one–it’s got the right blend of humor and action that appeals to kids and adults. I think it’s a PG 13 rating, but I’d put the ‘scariness’ level on par with say, the Harry Potter films. Kids will be fine, and there’s little to no swearing or anything like that (at least, not that I recall). An 11 yo will LOVE all the action and spectacular images though, I can definitely guarantee that 🙂

    Talia–Yes you and Tara enjoy this one together. Hmph. I wish I was there in Hawaii too!! *sniffles* It’s really fun, and I think y’all will enjoy it 🙂

    Kmont–no problemo! And I know how you feel about wanting more Red–my bf and I watched Hellboy on Saturday night *ninja* I’m so glad I got the bf into Hellboy–he resisted for so long out of sheer stubbornness, but now OF COURSE he loves it 😉

    Fingers are crossed for you and the hubby and Pan’s Labyrinth! It really is a gorgeous movie 🙂

  • ThRiNiDiR
    July 14, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    I’m just back from the movies. Trin, Madwand and I went to see Hulk…it wasn’t bad, but reading your review you really raised my expectations for Hellboy 🙂

  • Aymless
    July 14, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Ooh! Better than Ironman!!! O_o I wanna go see! But in the same boat as Blossom. Need to see the first movie first.

    Saw Hancock this past weekend. I wouldn’t recommend it. Check my blog for review if you are interested.

  • Thea
    July 15, 2008 at 7:38 am

    Thrinidir, ooh I hope you guys like Hellboy II! I’ve always had a soft spot for the Hulk (I think I’m one of 12 people that actually liked the first movie), but Hellboy is freaking awesome 🙂

    Aymless–oh no! I was planning on seeing Hancock (I mean, if nothing else, it’s Will Smith and boy can act)…how disappointing. I’ll check out your review 🙂 Thanks for the heads up! I hope you get a chance to watch and enjoy Hellboy.

  • patrick
    July 23, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Hellboy is dependably fun; for sure that director has an amazing imagination, reminded me alot of his work in Pan’s Labyrinth

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