movie film review | chris tookey

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

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  Hellboy II: The Golden Army Review
Tookey's Rating
8 /10
Average Rating
6.33 /10
Hellboy: Ron Perlman , Liz Sherman: Selma Blair
Full Cast >

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Written by: Guillermo del Toro, based on the comic books by Mike Mignola

Released: 2004
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 112

A devil of a good sequel.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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After the overpraised pomposity of The Dark Knight, it’s a pleasure to come across this cheerfully unpretentious pap, raised above its formulaic story and comic-strip origins by director Guillermo del Toro’s fine eye. Though a sequel, it feels more inventive than the original. And despite being on a grand scale, it hasn’t lost its sense of fun.

Between the two Hellboy movies, del Toro made the splendidly twisted fairytale Pan’s Labyrinth, and his latest Hollywood movie shows the same exuberant imagination at work. The movie would be worth seeing for the monsters alone: from nasty little “tooth fairies” through to a monstrous angel of death.

This time round, the red-skinned demon-turned-good-guy Hellboy (Ron Perlman, pictured) is happy doing nothing except hang out with his highly flammable girlfriend (Selma Blair).

But an underworld elf-prince (Luke Goss) decides to awaken a long-dormant army of killing machines to rebel against humans, and enable magical creatures to roam the earth again. Naturally, the only guy who can stop him is old redneck, who’s as tough on the outside as he is tender on the inside.

There are the big action sequences you would expect, along with unanticipated moments of real sweetness, such as when Hellboy discovers the joys of crooning along with Barry Manilow.

Perlman may look like a muscle-bound action hero – or villain - but he’s blessed with a sharp sense of humour and self-deprecating wit. They’re a real asset here.

Does the film have anything to say? Not really, though I liked the qualms that Hellboy has when he finds himself having to kill the last of an ancient species, a sort of bad-tempered beanstalk.

But the visuals make Hellboy II special, and the wealth of background detail will make it worth re-viewing. The “troll market” beneath Brooklyn Bridge turns out to be a phantasmagoria of curious creatures – at least as inventive as the bar-room scene in the first Star Wars. And there’s a wonderful creepiness in Del Toro’s fascination with intricate gadgetry, first exhibited in his disturbing horror debut Cronos.

Del Toro may not have an infallible nose for a script, but he has a real gift for the grotesque.

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