Rated: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and some language Reviewed by: Jim Release date: July 11, 2008 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.
The visionary director Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) knows how to keep a franchise successfully churning in mythology based on the Dark Horse comic book series.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army has the wryly ironic perfectly cast Ron Perlman back as the big red offspring of Satan and the Nazis out to please fanboys of all ages.
The influence of the creepy, macabre, Gothic, and Catholicism on the the creative filmmaker makes for a horror-fantasy delight with plenty of cool elaborate shadings that seems to put the special effects department in its place.
In this installment, co-written by comic book maker Mike Mignola, the fireproofing hulking guy has quite an encounter with with a forest green behemoth on the streets of New York. The wolfish fellow, though, displays a softer side in holding an infant, one that might bode well for himself as pyrotechnic girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair) is with child. But, she's not so forthcoming with that information.
The nuance on view is like lava flowing in the head of someone with the precision of a clockmaker who would prefer gargoyles to cuckoos. And, there are more humorous situations which seamlessly fit into the stylishly eerie template.
A flashback over half a century ago has a Santa-waiting Hellboy read a bedtime story at Christmas by surrogate father Prof. Bloom (John Hurt) about a seemingly indestructible Golden Army. It would be kept in a frozen state until a sacred diadem would be formed once again.
The setup works for the shrink-wrapped, knobbed guy retained by the BPRD (Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense) with Liz and Piscean Abe Sapien (Doug Jones), reporting to the smarmy Tom Manning (Jeffrey Tambor).
After a not so undercover Hellboy lands on a police vehicle from an incendiary edifice, one learns of the main source of tension which comes from the representative of the returning ancient people, Prince Nuada (Luke Goss). The mad prince is well-versed in martial arts, but doesn't have that faithful of a twin sister in Princess Nuala (Anna Walton).
Del Toro and Mignola stage some action-packed encounters even if Goss hardly makes for a persuasive villain. Nuada does carry quite an iron fist, abetted by an imposing gorilla with porcupine needles. Perlman and Jones share at least one memorable amusing scene as the Golden Army oddly awakens from Ireland and hardly engages in combat mode.
Yet, Hellboy II is another of the few cases where it exceeds the original, cracklingly creepy from the Golden Age of film noir as it channels striking imagery and set pieces either when the crown is being auctioned or Big Red and Nuada facing off on what looks to be the interior of a galactic timepiece.
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