Oct 5, 2008

[Movies] Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

Hellboy II: The Golden ArmyMy comic book ventures have mostly centered around the big players in the comic book world - which means Marvel Comics and DC Comics. Sure, I'd try dabbling in other titles here and there but such explorations never really went very far.

Thus when certain characters and comic book titles managed to get themselves some level of popularity or even notoriety, I find myself scrambling to learn more about that comic book title through the aid of the internet at large. What would we be without the internet and search engines like Google, eh?

Hellboy is one of those books that I've heard of but never got into myself. However with the help of Hollywood, I've been fortunate enough to get exposed enough to this particular anti-hero through the first film and thus I was one of those rather interested in seeing the sequel.

HellboyImage via WikipediaHellboy II: The Golden Army reunites the likes of Ron Perlman, Selma Blair and Doug Jones as the misfit band of government-sponsored supernatural agents Hellboy, Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien respectively. The movie has the Bureau for Paranormal Research (BPRD) struggling to keep Hellboy in check given his constant attempts to attract the attention of the media and have the organization "come out" in a manner of speaking.

Things come to a head when they start investigating what starts as a supernatural murder at an auction house and eventually reveals itself to be the work of Prince Nuada of the Elves in his attempt to bring back the mythical Golden Army of old. He seeks to use the Golden Army to conquer the human world and reclaim what the Elves had lost many years ago.

Clearly, writer-director Guillermo del Toro still has a bit of a hangover after his award-winning Spanish film, Pan's Labyrinth given the nature of many of the characters in this film. Introducing Troll Town may have been central to the plot but it was also an excuse for del Toro to go all out with character creation even though you don't see them ever again. All this makes me rethink how much classic Henson films like The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth retain their positions in my personal history for most disturbing creatures given what del Toro has introduced into the world. Plus, what's with his obsession with putting eyes where they shouldn't be? Really, what's up with that?

The story itself was a bit trite and not overly well done. While many will argue that del Toro was intentionally aiming for that pseudo B-movie feel, it doesn't excuse some of the really bad moments throughout the film and those instances of overly extreme ridiculousness that defy all good reason. It's just a bit tricky (to say the least) to balance out the really serious side of the film with the very light humorous moments that don't seem to fit in with the rest of the film.

Plus the whole love aspect between Hellboy and Liz came out really flat and unrealistic and it just didn't do anything for me.

Given everything shown in the trailer versus what was actually seen in the movie, I don't think that I'm the only person who saw the film and thought the same thing - why didn't we get more of the Golden Army? They were one of the coolest concepts in the film and it looks like a lot of the special-effects budget was invested there and yet they hardly got enough screen time to justify the expense. Maybe I liked them a bit too much since I have always been rather partial to robots in all forms, shapes and sizes, but still I think it's pretty fair to have wanted to see more of the mechanical monsters. Come on, they're actually in the title of the movie! They deserve more!

This film was pretty much just okay but wasn't amazing or even necessarily a must-see film. Fans of the comic will see a number of elements they're familiar with although with certain tweaks. Fans of Pan's Labyrinth will see a number of interesting elements (at least visually) but will not be drawn in at all by the plot. Fans of bad drunken videoke singing will go home feeling nostalgic for more alcohol and Barry Manilow. What fun.

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