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Hellboy II: The Golden Army

by David Foucher
EDGE Publisher
Friday Jul 11, 2008
Ron Perlman in "Hellboy II."
Ron Perlman in "Hellboy II."  

It might just be the summer's hippest film. Hellboy II: The Golden Army is Guillermo del Toro's love letter to fanboys, but it's also a racy run for those of us over fourteen as well; the big, red, cigar-chomping, beer-guzzling, decidedly anti-hero at its core is an affectionate appeal to our saucier sides in a season packed with all-too-serious superflicks. It's the quintessential summer film -- funny, wry, action-packed, with special effects stacked to the roof. But most of all, it's just a whole lotta fun.

The story starts with a flashback (replete with the grandfatherly John Hurt) that sets up the story: ages ago, an invincible golden army is buried away when a hidden, ancient race builds a truce with humans. The truce is not meant to last -- at least in a world built by del Toro -- and a disgruntled, extraordinarily pale elf prince with serious sword skills named Nuada (Luke Goss) seeks to reactivate the army and destroy the humans. All he needs is the means to control that army: the components of a crown split into three. His quest to reassemble the golden coronet leads him to mass-murder at an auction courtesy of a legion of tiny, bone-hungry fairy creatures. They're scary, nasty, and just the type of otherworldly nuisance that coerces the U.S. government to let Hellboy (Ron Perlman) out of his high-security home at the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense -- along with cohorts fishboy Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and (literal) hottie Liz (Selma Blair).

The witty repartee between the three, along with soporific, sycophantic BPRD manager Tom Manning (Jeffrey Tambor) and wispy German protoplast Johann Krauss (John Alexander, James Dodd and "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane as his voice) hasn't devolved one iota. Instead, given that Liz is pregnant with Hellboy's child, the flippant anger between the two drives the invective up a notch. This is Hellboy at his best, fighting to save the human race (which still fears him) while trying to figure out why his girlfriend seems to be perpetually on the rag.

Del Toro's canny humor plays well against the hyper-CGI, high-speed mechanics of the plot. And his fondness for precision fantasy gives the adventure a visual appeal that's rare among superhero flicks: it's by far the most visually stunning film out this year to date. Nods to the "Lord Of The Rings," Barry Manilow, and (for those of you fabulous enough to notice) "The Wizard of Oz" lends a sense of popular mythology to the picture. And Perlman's deadpan delivery of the title character... well, it's just inspired.

The film's only weaknesses are the length of it's preamble and the pedestrian climactic battle with the golden army. But the films final clincher is well executed, and along the way we're treated to some serious character-building, such as the emotionally-charged scene wherein Liz is forced to make a choice between saving Hellboy now and the future of the world later -- at the hands of a creepy hammerhead Angel Of Death with seriously nasty teeth (del Toro has a Picasso-like penchant for rearranging the human face).

Thanks to these emotive, mythological (some would say Christian) bones under its fanboy skin, "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" manages to bridge a generation gap; older folks might be slightly disenchanted with the more fantastic, comic-book elements of the film, while those all-important teenage boys won't go for Hellboy and Abe hammering down beer and signing along with Barry Manilow's "Can't Smile Without You." But I bet they'll all agree that the movie is a hell of a lot of amusement for eleven bucks.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Info

Runtime :: 120 mins
Release Date :: Jul 11, 2008
Language :: English
Country :: United States



David Foucher is the CEO of the EDGE Media Network and Pride Labs LLC, is a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and is accredited with the Online Society of Film Critics. David lives with his daughter in Dedham MA.


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