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Caught between the Fourth of July weekend and the release of a movie about a guy with parent issues who dresses himself in a cape comes Guillermo Del Toro’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army. This time, the film maker was left to his own devices as the sequel has virtually nothing to do with any previous source material. How did Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones and the rest do this time around? Find out what we thought after the jump.

The first phrase that really comes to mind when thinking about Hellboy II is “visually arresting.” The same could be said of the print version of Mike Mignola’s character, even though the film and book are two completely different beasts when it comes to style. In the comic, the world has a much more noir feel to it. The images are dynamic, but it’s a dark world which Hellboy inhabits, and Mignola reminds us with every panel. While a noir take would have been interesting, Del Toro knows enough about the subject to make the world as vibrant (and marketable to the movie-going public) as possible. What’s the fun of having all kinds of creatures in the film if you can’t see them? If the first film gave us merely a glimpse into the world of the BPRD, the second gives you the tour. There’s no doubt the people behind the film are more than capable at delivering. But what about the people in it?

Let it be noted there is no actor that could ever encapsulate the tone of Hellboy the way Ron Perlman does. He’s given much more to play with this time around, and you can tell he loves every minute. The first film had its moments of humor, but overall was a very dark and moody piece, much like the comic it was inspired by. In Hellboy II, all the characters (and actors) are given much more room to breathe. Hellboy and Liz’s relationship is expanded in a direction completely different than the one they have in print, but I like it. I’m not sure about certain aspects of their relationship revealed in this film, but overall the two play off one another very well. That’s in large part due to both Perlman and Selma Blair having a unique understanding of what makes their two characters tick. While it was certainly strange to hear a voice other than David Hyde Pierce’s (uncredited in the first film as he felt the performance was really all Doug Jones) the first time Abe spoke, Doug Jones does a perfectly serviceable job. That slight air of sophistication was gone, but Jones was able to convey the tone and emotion established in the first film. Everyone always talks about how great Ron Perlman is in these films, but Jones doesn’t look anywhere near as human as Ron does in make-up, but is still able to humanize Abe just as well. While the two actors portraying Prince Nuada (Luke Ross) and Princess Nuala (Anna Walton) both did great jobs, the best new addition to the film was easily Johann Kraus. The effects team did a magnificent job bringing a man made of ectoplasm to life. Surprisingly, I didn’t hate Seth MacFarlane’s (Family Guy) interpretation of what Krauss would sound like. The guy flat out steals just about every scene he’s in, and makes a decent foil early on.

Story wise, the plot is very paint by numbers. What makes the tale so compelling is the world in which it takes place. Whether it’s amazingly designed locales like the location of Golden Army, or the over-crowded Troll Market, every inch of Hellboy’s universe is expertly detailed. And then there’s the creature design. Part of what makes Del Toro so perfect for bringing Hellboy to the screen is the love of HP Lovecraft he and Mignola share. The two have a knack for creating creatures that are both intriguing and horrifying. The best example may be the smallest creature, the Tooth Fairy. You’ll wish you had one as a pet, until you see it in motion. Of course, there are parts where there are so many creatures on the screen, you’ll lose yourself in the details. There are so many moments you’ll be in awe, but none have the impact of the first appearance of the Angel of Death. I could describe the look of the film to you all day, but if there was ever a reason to see something on the big screen instead of waiting for the dvd, this my friend is it.

Did the film have some issues? Of course it did. Absolute die hards may balk at some of the directions the story takes. Those who understand the Hellboy we see on film is quite different from the one we see on our comic shop shelves will have a blast with this, as will people who have never read the comic, but enjoyed the first movie. Hellboy II does many more things right than it does wrong, and when it comes to superhero films, that’s certainly no small task. While I wish the film was released on a different date (so it could make more money in a less crowded month), banking $35 million on opening weekend is a great step. It won’t lose all the momentum next week against The Dark Knight, but making $100 million (the budget was $85 mil) now seems a daunting task. I can’t really complain too much, though. We’re 4-4 on comic movies this summer, and if all is to be believed, we’ll be 5-5 in another week. Even if you haven’t seen it yet, make some time in your busy movie schedule to check this out. It’s another great superhero film that won’t disappoint.


2 Responses so far
  1. David Hyde Pierce Celebrity Gossip | From the Panel to the Screen: Obligatory Fanboy Hellboy II Review Said,

    [...] Doug Jones) the first time Abe spoke, Doug Jones does a perfectly serviceable job. … Source: From the Panel to the Screen: Obligatory Fanboy Hellboy II Review Who Would Be A Worse Mom? Paris or Lindsey? Vote Now And Get A Free iPhone. David Hyde Pierce [...]

    Posted on July 15th, 2008 at 4:01 AM

  2. David Hyde Pierce Celebrity Gossip | From the Panel to the Screen: Obligatory Fanboy Hellboy II Review Said,

    [...] what we thought after the jump. The first phrase that really comes to mind when thinking Source: From the Panel to the Screen: Obligatory Fanboy Hellboy II Review Who Would Be A Worse Mom? Paris or Lindsey? Vote Now And Get A Free iPhone. David Hyde Pierce [...]

    Posted on July 16th, 2008 at 6:30 AM

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