After saving the world from the evil Russian mystic, Grigory Rasputin, in Hellboy (2004), the red-skinned gun-toting demon and humankind's strange protector, Hellboy, now struggle to accept that the operations of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence must remain secret. As if that weren't enough, the powerful Elven-prince, Nuada, is bent on retrieving the fragments of a crown that commands the indestructible Golden Army: an omnipotent legion of clockwork warriors that can destroy all humans. Now, before this new menace, all hope rests on Hellboy and Liz's old brothers-in-arms, as well as the ectoplasmic being, Johann Krauss. However, the Earth's supernatural defenders seem to be no match for Nuada's unstoppable forces. Did Hellboy and the rest bite off more than they could chew?Written by
Del Toro cements his place as a contemporary visionary. Brilliant, stylish, hilarious, and great.
I have long felt that the first Hellboy installment is one of the most underrated films of the 2000's. The first thing you notice about both the first film and this more than worthy successor is the passion. Everything is simply beautiful (not in the typical beautiful sense, but in that you appreciate the art that it is), and it should come as no surprise as the film's director, Guillermo Del Toro, is a long time fan of the comic stories on which the movie is based. Del Toro turned down multiple high profile projects, including multiple Harry Potter films, so he could work on the Hellboy series, which we all know will not gross as much money. Del Toro's passion for excellence is evident in this wonderful sequel, which is better than the first, and cements Del Toro's place as one of the top filmmakers of today.
The first thing I liked about the movie: the easy transition from the first to the second movie. Though I don't remember exact plot details, it was very easy for me to get back into the story, world, and especially our three main characters. I'd reckon that you could watch this movie without having seen the first and still have a great time (though, it helps). A great cast with great chemistry more than sets the tone and makes this one very watchable.
First, you've got Ron Perlman. For those of you who don't know this terribly underrated actor, he's one you can't afford to miss as Hellboy. Even though he's covered in make-up and prosthetics, Perlman does a great job of making us love him as a hero, and a man. This is something most of the superhero performers do not (or perhaps cannot) do. The just-as-passionate-as-Del-Toro Doug Jones leaves a HUGE mark on the viewer here, not just for his performance as Abe Sapien, but for his remarkable range as a couple of other characters in the movie. Luke Goss is the film's villain, and I really saw the dedication in his performance as well, something required for his character, who is of course a dedicated man. He's not necessarily the typical 'evil' character, but a somewhat misguided one, and I think Goss got that across to me very well. A fact often ignored by critics in the comic book/superhero realm of films is the supporting heroine. Most times, without the audience knowing it, this character makes or breaks the movie. Selma Blair, boy does she make it. Not only does she look absolutely stunning as Liz Sherman, she takes the final act into her hands and does wonders with it. Definitely the best performance I've ever seen from Ms. Blair. Add in a hilarious and great performance from Seth MacFarlane (yes, the voice of multiple Family Guy characters) as Johann Kraus's voice, and Anna Walton as Princess Nuala, and you've got the best ensemble of the year thusfar. Yes, this cast is better than Iron Man.
As for the action, it's stunning. Hellboy has a LOT more to work with than the traditional superhero film, and Del Toro more than takes advantage of it. With action ranging from lighting fast and well shot sword fighting and hand to hand combat to Hellboy versus a giant plant, it's a sight to behold as we watch a legendary director in the making perfect his craft. There were multiple times where I found myself saying "holy crap", or "wow". Del Toro also keeps some humor in there to balance the much darker tone of the film. This includes one of the most hilarious scenes I've ever seen about being lovesick.
I sadly feel that many will not see this movie and it will become a diamond in the rough, much like its predecessor. Hopefully that doesn't happen, and it becomes the blockbuster it deserves to be. Though the ending is a tad predictable (not too much, but it is the one thing that keeps it from a 10), I found Hellboy to be one of the most pleasing adventures at the movies I've had this year. It's a shame that it comes out between Will Smith and Batman, because this film deserves its own day in the spotlight. You know what they say...Every demon has his day...
P.S. I can't wait to see a third one.
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