Friday, July 18, 2008

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

BW and I got a chance to see the new Hellboy movie last Sunday. We are big fans of the first one, so this had been much anticipated. Unfortunately, an early exposure to EA Sports NHL 09 left me sleep-deprived at the time of the showing, but we were committed to seeing it anyway.
The entire cast returns from the first movie, with the exception of Rupert Evans, who played Agent Myers. Evans was unavailable due to a prior commitment, so his absence is explained by a couple of lines stating he was transferred to Antarctica at Hellboy’s request. The cast was perfect in the first one, so it’s good to see them back. Ron Perlman as Hellboy may be the most appropriate casting in the history of movies. It’s pretty much impossible to imagine a Hellboy movie without him.
Long ago, the mythical world was at war with the real world. The mythical world had gained the upper hand with the creation of the Golden Army, 4900 indestructible creatures bound to obey any royal personage who wore the controlling crown. King Balor (Roy Dotrice) used this army to crush the humans, but was dismayed at the death and destruction. To put an end to it, he engineered a truce, one that has held for centuries.
But man’s expansion has encroached on the realm of the magical, and Balor’s son, Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) wishes to raise the army again to restore balance between humanity and myth. It’s up to Hellboy and the rest of the B.P.R.D. (Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense) to stop Nuada’s plans and prevent the Golden Army from rising again.
As I said before, the casting is near perfect, and the script sparkles with humor. Director Guillermo del Toro has continued to expand the palate of his imagination after his award-winning Pan’s Labyrinth, and the kingdom of Balor is filled with strange and wondrous creatures. It’s also good to see Abe Sapien have a slightly larger role at the climax of this movie.
However, I don’t feel it is quite as good as the first one, and ironically for a movie about a war to restore balance, the reason is an imbalance between good and evil. One of the necessities of a superhero movie is to come up with a villain powerful enough and evil enough to oppose him. Rasputin worked well in the first movie, and the fact that he needed Hellboy to carry out his scheme helped bring the movie together. Nuada is a fascinating creature, but he doesn’t seem strong enough to fight the B.P.R.D., and his motivations are more sympathetic.
Also, in the first movie, the voice of Abe Sapien was provided by David Hyde-Pierce, and in this one, Doug Jones (who plays Abe) provides the voice. Jones does well, but Hyde-Pierce’s effete voice suited Abe perfectly.
To sum it up, this is a good movie, in my opinion, and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in this sort of thing. But it falls short of the first one.
I will be eager to see the hoped-for third installment, however.


patrick said...

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

KentAllard said...

Good point; I don't know if you can be influenced by your own work, but I thought Hellboy II was much in the nature of Pan's Labyrinth.