Hellboy II: The Golden Army
|Director:||Guillermo del Toro|
After an ancient truce existing between humankind and the invisible realm of the fantastic is broken, hell on Earth is ready to erupt. A ruthless leader who treads the world above and the one below defies his bloodline and awakens an unstoppable army of creatures. Now, it’s up to the planet’s toughest, roughest superhero to battle the merciless dictator and his marauders. He may be red. He may be horned. He may be misunderstood. But when you need the job done right, it’s time to call in Hellboy (Ron Perlman). Along with his expanding team in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Development—pyrokinetic girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair), aquatic empath Abe (Doug Jones) and protoplasmic mystic Johann—the BPRD will travel between the surface strata and the unseen magical one, where creatures of fantasy become corporeal. And Hellboy, a creature of two worlds who’s accepted by neither, must choose between the life he knows and an unknown destiny that beckons him.
The feverish Hellboy II: The Golden Army is a very busy sequel that might have looked unhinged in the hands of a less visionary director than Guillermo del Toro. Ron Perlman returns as Hellboy, aka “Red,” the Dark Horse Comics demon-hero with roots in the mythical world but personal ties in the human realm. Still working, as he was in Hellboy, for a secret department of the federal government that deals (as in “Men In Black”) with forces of the fantastic, Red and his colleagues take on a royal elf (Luke Goss) determined to smash a longtime truce between mankind and the forces of magic. Meanwhile, Red’s relationship with girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair), who can burst into flames at will, is going through a rocky stage observed by Red’s fishy friend Abe (Doug Jones), himself struck by love in this film. Del Toro brilliantly integrates the ordinary and extraordinary, diving into an extended scene set in a troll market barely hidden behind the façade of typical city streets. He also unleashes a forest monster that devastates an urban neighborhood, but then—interestingly—brings a luminous beauty to the same area as the creature (an “elemental”) succumbs to a terrible death. Del Toro’s art direction proves masterful, too, in a climactic battle set in a clockworks-like stronghold tucked away in rugged Irish landscape. But it’s really the juxtaposition of visual marvels with not-so-unusual relationship issues that gives Hellboy II a certain jaunty appeal hard to find in other superhero movies. —Tom Keogh
In the ongoing deluge of comic-book adaptations, Hellboy ranks well above average. Having turned down an offer to helm Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in favor of bringing Hellboy’s origin story to the big screen, the gifted Mexican director Guillermo del Toro compensates for the excesses of Blade II with a moodily effective, consistently entertaining action-packed fantasy, beginning in 1944 when the mad monk Rasputin—in cahoots with occult-buff Hitler and his Nazi thugs—opens a transdimensional portal through which a baby…