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I just got back from a preview screening of "Hellboy II And The Golden Army" and of all the films I've seen so far this summer Hellboy is the ONLY one to exceed my expectations. I love the second films of a super hero franchise (Superman II, Spiderman II, The Incredible Hulk) because the heroes have been introduced and the origins are out of the way so the story can begin from the start unfettered. This film is not just about Action, Action, Action but about character development and their interaction. I liked "Pan's Labrynth" but felt a little bit let down when the creature's personalities were not explored enough. This film takes the time to establish who Abe Sapien is beyond being defined as a fish man. Johann Krauss is a great uptight Teutonic addition to the old team with a few tricks up his sleeve and Hellboy & Liz's professional and personal relationship get more play in this film. The detail in the troll market is amazing and the story rings true to the Mike Mignola comics without having to lift a story arc from any one specific past issue. Bravo! Guillermo del Toro! I can't wait for Hellboy III.
You know you're not watching a formulaic comic book film when one of
the highlights is a drunken rendition of "Can't Smile Without You" by
Hellboy and Abe Sapien. "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" is a more
confident, assured outing than the first film and while it does not
draw from Mignola's comics for its plot it is perhaps better off for
it, lacking the usual burden of comparison and expectations. "The
Golden Army" is more fantastical than the first film and is less sci-fi
oriented but this is the sort of thing Del Toro does exceptionally well
as a writer. He never lets the fantasy become the focus of the film,
instead concentrating on characters and delivering action scenes that
can only be described as, forgive the crass immaturity, kickass.
As entertaining as many comic book-to-film adaptations are it is a rare event when one can call one of these films a true artistic achievement. I am convinced without a shadow of a doubt that Guillermo Del Toro's entire career has been leading up to this film, particularly regarding his work as screenwriter here. The comedy feels less forced and is worked incredibly well into the script here, so much so that it doesn't feel remotely unnatural when the scene of comic drunken singing leads directly without a break into one of the film's most intensely dramatic sequences. Del Toro's handling of character has never been better, not even with "The Devil's Backbone", which is still my favorite of his films, and his sheer skill and ability when it comes to telling a fairytale-esquire fantasy is astonishing, as proved in the prologue to this film. In short this is Del Toro at the top of his game and providing artistry the likes of which we rarely if ever see in summer blockbusters. It's only fair that an astonishingly brilliant comic like "Hellboy" by an astonishingly brilliant artist like Mike Mignola is adapted this well and by someone as talented at what they do as he is.
How refreshing it is, a week after the release of "Hancock", which to me epitomizes everything wrong with action film-making today, that we get "The Golden Army" which features hands down some of the finest action scenes we have ever seen in this sort of film. Just stunningly beautiful, well-shot, well-crafted, the sort of thing that leaves one wondering how much time and effort went into it and endlessly thankful that some really talented people went to the trouble of making the film.
The film is generally just superb on a technical level. Why am I even saying this? Of course it is. Danny Elfman composing, Guillermo Navarro serving as cinematographer, top-notch editors, fantastic special effects wizards. It's a world-class crew that made this film. I shouldn't be surprised at its quality but "The Golden Army" really just floored and astonished me with how good it is. The cast is also excellent, proving once again that you don't need 'big names' to carry a movie. Just about everyone here is excellent, particularly Perlman with another excellent turn as Hellboy and the underrated Selma Blair as Liz Sherman.
"Hellboy II: The Golden Army" provides essentially everything a Del Toro or Mignola fan would want. I imagine it will entertain and charm many outside those circles as well with its fantastic action sequences, engaging characters, and wonderful sense of humor. I would personally go as far as calling "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" one of the top five or so comic book movies ever made.
I took this in at the L.A. Film Festival closing night gala and really
had a great time. I'm a HUGE fan of the comics and thought that the
first movie was done just right.
I think Hellboy II: the Golden Army is as good as the first movie. It takes awhile to get used to Doug Jones' voice as Abe, but once you do, you see why it's better to have the guy in the suit doing his own dialog. And Seth McFarlane does a fine job voicing Johann (although not as I had imagined him).
The design work is superior to the first movie and the humor is ratcheted up a notch. The fights are better and more thrilling and the monsters are way cool. Great use of costumes and CGI working together (something Lucas should have done more of in the Star Wars prequels) to make everything feel REAL.
I expect many won't like it as much as the first movie because the newness will be lost. This was in fact my immediate reaction as well; but after a few days I realized I was just as excited to see it again as I was the first one.
The story isn't as grandiose as the first Hellboy, and the overall pace and build have a few problems.
*POSSIBLE SPOILER* There is also a tad too much time spent with the many love stories (one of which works better than the others - Liz and Hellboy), but they all play out well. And an AWESOME flashback that had me grinning from ear to ear.
PLEEEEEASE let there be at least one more Hellboy movie!!!
okay, I'll start out simple. This movie is not Gone With the Wind. It isn't Ben Hur, not even Pan's Labyrinth. it is no fantastic achievement in film that will go down in the history books. But really, it's Hellboy - does it really need to be a classic? Honestly, I loved this movie. It was pure fun. I found the first Hellboy movie to be a fun movie. . .but it lacked that certain something that was keeping it from being a great movie. This one introduces all new mythology into the series, which allows director Guillermo Del Toro to invent all sorts of new creatures that all look amazing. The visual aspect of this film is classic, nothing short of amazing. The movie has some flaws, a few strange possible plot holes, but by the end of the day, the humor rules the day, and the humor hit spot on, to make a very funny film. I can't get the song "I can't Smile Without You" now after seeing this film. That segment was hilarious. Hellboy succeeds in being a film with a decent story, good visual work, and great characters with great humor, all to make just an overall FUN movie where Indiana Jones couldn't. (I only mean Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) For someone who believes any film that doesn't win 11 Oscars isn't worth watching, I'll be honest, you'll hate Hellboy 2. For someone who goes in expecting only to be entertained, just to have a fun time, I 100% recommend this film to that kind of person. Go see it, it's very worth it.
What is it about super-hero films (X-Men 2, Spiderman 2, Superman II,
and likely The Dark Knight) that the best of them are always the middle
chapter; the second episode? I personally have no clue, but Hellboy II
is not the exception.
It's got bigger action; more heavily stylized and expansive. It has a ton more amazing creatures. It's got an even wittier script, and a much better story. It's like the director was allowed to make everything as he saw fit; his vision is much fuller this time around.
Surprisingly, this movie rocks, and was actually the first film this year I was all around satisfied by.
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.
Del Torro's imagination is a beautiful thing. He has created some of
the most fascinating creatures that traditional Hollywood doesn't have
the guts or inclination to ever assemble. I would take Guillmero Del
Torro in the director's chair any time any place, but Hellboy II shows
that he is not without his flaws. Ron Perlman who is terrific as
Hellboy doesn't have anything truly interesting to say or do, the world
around him is magical but the plot isn't.
Hellboy is the most unique character to appear in your comic book shop. The mythology and the character are such the opposite of the main stream and to Hellboy II's credit so is this movie. Ron Perlman doesn't deliver catch phrases or gun down bad guys for the sake of doing so. He is an interesting character but he is overshadowed by this lackluster plot and the world around it. I felt as if we didn't see enough of Big Red or maybe we did we just didn't get to see the most of the talents. Del Torro constantly wants to remind you that he directed Pan's Labyrinth because visually the creatures look like they were leftovers from that film. I don't mind this per say but these characters just don't have much to do, they are there really to look at rather than them having significance. Visually I can't complain about them because they are amazing but they serve little purpose to the story.
The plot is really the weakest thing this movie has going for it. I felt it took too many liberties against the original concepts of Hellboy. Hellboy is a creature alive in our world, Del Torro tries to tell us that our world is nothing more than a division of fantasy and reality. Well we spend too much time in the fantasy that we forget the fact that this Golden Army is a threat to reality. The villain Prince Nuada is weak, we don't see any method to his madness other than the fact that the plot dictates that he be the antagonist. In the first film and to a lesser degree this one we were given details about why Hellboy has faith in humanity and would chose not to serve his purpose. It's interesting because we are given glimpses of what could have been something that could have added real teeth and tension to the story, for the first time Hellboy is tempted by evil, weakly tempted but tempted nonetheless. This mental struggle could have given our actors the chance to show their talent but instead the filler between the action scenes is just okay at best.
I didn't hate Hellboy II I just think it needed some beef in it's story. Del Torro has shown us he is a master storyteller but this time he didn't focus on the story it's self. I would recommend this film but I know Del Torro can and has done much better.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While not the worst movie you'll spend your money to see, Hellboy 2
completely lacks the charm, grit, and vitality that made the original
such a success.
Personally, my major gripe is with the poorly conceived script and ham-fisted direction of all but the action sequences and creature shots. Now, I know that this is not a study of deep human drama, but I DO ask any movie, no matter how ridiculous the premise, to at least attempt to establish an environment conducive to immersion. Unlike the first, this movie abandons any attempt at consistency and believable interactions between characters, a problem compounded by some bad voice-work (Doug Jones, Seth MacFarlane), strained performances (Jeffrey Tambor ... damn, he was great in the first, what happened here?), and, most importantly, a terrible, terrible script.
The movie starts out by shoving this glaring problem right into your face. The relationship between Liz and Hellboy is muddled and unconvincing. "Yes, yes, I know you're wandering the mythical and never-before-witnessed Troll Market, but you know, I have something really important to tell you about our relationship that is exceptionally private but is best shared over an open radio frequency" or "Hey, I know, let's have a gigantic fight that results in me blowing a reinforced vault door off it's hinges with sheer pyrokinetic force, but then play it off as me just needing my space." It's ridiculous, distracting, and cheapens what could have been a viable subplot.
Tied to this is the fact that Liz Sherman, although she can literally obliterate just about anything, spends much of the movie shooting with a sidearm on those rare occasions she chooses to engage in non-relationship babble and actually hurt an evil faerie monster/robot/whatever. When it suits the plot she is capable of focusing and controlling her powers to the necessary end, but for the most part she just stands around on fire, then pulls out a gun to deal with the bad guys. Part of what made her character so interesting in the first movie was the sheer destructive force she commands; in this, she is virtually neutered unless something very very important and seemingly indestructible (hint hint) needs to be somehow done away with. How convenient, and yet how disappointing.
The overall feeling of the movie is best summed up by the nausea-inducing tagline running on various banners and prefacing every trailer: "BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE VISIONARY DIRECTOR OF PAN'S LABYRINTH". The whole movie is an excuse for Del Toro to show you how wonderfully creative he is, to make you forget about the cheesy dialog, giant plot holes, and some less-than-credible performances. That's fine - it's what made Pan's Labyrinth successful and worthwhile. Unfortunately, I didn't pay to see Pan's Labyrinth 2 - I wanted to see the sequel to Hellboy.
More importantly, unlike Pan's Labyrinth, the movie keeps yanking you away from the visual splendor and makes you focus on other, more unsavory elements. The movie cannot stand alone as either a fantasy, a superhero/action movie, or a comedy, but rather tries to bridge all three genres. This schizophrenic, inconsistent approach ruins those things the film does well - action, one-liners, and mind- boggling special effects. One of many examples: watching Johann Krauss flow around and take control of objects and creatures is a really cool premise and leads to some great scenes; unfortunately, Seth McFarlane's voice work is far too over the top. As soon as you think to yourself "damn, this is pretty cool", the scene/fight ends and you get to hear a voice-over that sounds like the Germanophile orphan of a mating between Stewie from Family Guy and C3PO from Star Wars.
In short, every time you begin to feel immersed in this fantasy/occult setting, you're unnecessarily distracted by poor voice-work, bad writing, or yawning chasms in continuity (Spoiler: The Golden Army is indestructible, but the crown controlling it is really THAT easy to destroy??? Why not just melt the damn thing in the first 15 minutes and be done with it?). Watching the movie, I couldn't help but feel that Del Toro jumped the shark - that he was so enraptured with the size of his budget and the scope of the film that he completely forgot all the great things that made the original so enjoyable.
If you, like me, enjoy sci-fi, fantasy, superhero/action summer popcorn movies ... eh, it's OK. The visuals are impressive, the action is consistent, and the creatures are mostly interesting. Unfortunately, all of those elements are undermined by the complete lack of immersion, with the film being ridiculously over-the-top, plagued by horrific consistency and plot holes you could throw a tractor through. The sad thing is that I really wanted to like this movie, but even I - an apologist who can overlook the warts in just about any film of the genre - just couldn't hang in there with Hellboy 2.
I had the pleasure of seeing this last night at the Alamo Draft House screening with not only Guillermo del Toro but Mike Mignola and Doug Jones attending as well. I was a fan of del Toro's work before I got into Hellboy but that was several years before the first movie. This is quite honestly one of the best marriages of both source and original material I could've hoped for. I felt the movie far surpassed the original. It was smarter, funnier, and as visually stunning as anything you can expect from either del Toro or Mignola. The sheer number and variety of fully realized monsters, with the stronger emphasis being on puppetry and make-up as opposed to an over reliance on CGI, is almost astounding in this day and age. The performances were also top notch. It was a little weird to hear Doug Jones's voice actually coming out of Abe Sapien at first but I think it added to the character and Seth McFarlane as the voice of Johann Krauss was a rather inspired gamble that paid off. All in all the best thing I can say that will probably make the strongest impact on the largest number of people is that I would gladly pay to see this movie again and I would recommend it to any of my friends, regardless of how familiar they are or aren't with Hellboy. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
This is something special; when a second film in a series is able to
surpass or equal to it's predecessor. It's not just because the first
Hellboy was so excellent, which it was, but they handled this second
film with such care and pizazz, it's almost better, in ways, than the
It's very rare in a saga that the second films rises over the first, which is why when I say that Hellboy II: The Golden Army was almost in every way better than Hellboy, I mean it, and for me to love Hellboy like I do, that's saying a lot. Hellboy II had everything the first had, but with bigger and better qualities. The action was superb, story line was great, and acting, directing, etc. was just as perfect.
I was entertained through the entire film and I enjoyed every minute and in the end I was left with a big smile on my face for how great this sequel turned out to be, but here again, I still think it is on par with the first because of how the first was so perfect at setting up the story from the comics and how amazingly entertaining it was as well, with all the great performances that the second had and just when I put the two films together, I honestly can not decide which is better. All I have left to say is that if you loved Hellboy, this is no disappointment whatsoever, and you need to see it right away!
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