Friday, October 03, 2008

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

By Reymundo Salao

This is going to be a spoiler review. But up front, I’m gonna say that this movie is indeed a Freakin AWESOME, and ultimately enjoyable. But if you’ve already seen this movie or if you’re not convinced yet, just read on and I will point out some details that might encourage you to watch it. Actually this movie is long overdue, and was originally released the week before The Dark Knight was released, so putting on a spoiler-free review would be pointless at this point. And let’s jump to the review proper…

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army is the sequel to Guillermo Del Toro’s mildly successful HELLBOY movie which is an adaptation of the Dark Horse comicbook series by Mike Mignola. Just as much as I loved the first movie, this new one really gives me the cinematic orgasm that makes you wanna pay twice and watch it again. There are only four big movies that I was anticipating this year. 2 of them (John Rambo and The Drak Knight) have caught up to my expectations and pleased me immensely. I am glad that Hellboy 2 did MORE than my expectations. It blew me away with a hell of an enjoyable time.

Its creature features are all positively farout interesting, each and every one of the creatures here seem to serve a very important purpose and never just mere eye candy CGI material. Even the tiniest monster here is never one-dimensional. When you get to the scene where Hellboy kills the plant god; that was such a surreal and lovely moment. A sort of magical sadness that only directors like Guillermo Del Toro can deliver. Never has any other movie given such sympathetic weight to monster characters like the Plant God. And on that moment after you see Hellboy killing it, you will feel the heavy guilt he carries.

The tooth fairies are also a memorable group of creatures in this movie that gives a dose of terrifying horror. The prologue storytelling scene where we see the story of how the Golden Army came to be: THAT was a very unexpected style of art to be used to tell the story. Magnificent. And talking about creatures, The Troll Market scene stands out as one of the most memorable scenes in the movie. Never has such a multi-creature fantasy sequence that had a vision like this since The Cantina Scene in the 1977 Star Wars: A New Hope. Sure there's a sequence like this on Men-in-Black, but while that one reeks of "commercial fantasy spectacle" Hellboy 2's sequences have the aroma of genuine and sincere strangeness; one that will probably ferment well and will never be forgettable. Don’t get me started on Johann Kraus, his addition to the Hellboy cast of heroes was very impressive. This character never ceased to make me grin throughout all his scenes. And on the scene where he possesses one of the Golden Armies, I felt like standing up in a childlike hooray.

The beer scene between Abe and Hellboy was precious. It made Abe a more relatable and charming character. My only complaint is that the closing cheerfulness of the ending kinda disregarded the loss of Abe Sapien's love interest. A few more minutes of sympathizing with Abe should have been appropriate. What I also frowned upon is the lack of explanation or justification as to why Abe gave the crown piece to Nuada, even though the motive was aimed at Abe’s love for Nuala; still, they could have posed a more convincing situation why Abe will just simply and easily submit to Nuada’s will and abandon his own code of ethics.

The writing was simply on target, with enough wit to send you chuckling through most scenes of the movie. When Hellboy finds out that he's going to be a father, he says "I'm going to be Father" not "going to be A Father" I'm assuming that this is in reference to the character of Professor Broom, Hellboy's beloved surrogate father. From the first movie and the first part of the second movie, you see the close relationship between Broom and Hellboy. Hellboy loved his father so much and respected the values he has taught him, so much so that he turned his back away from his demonic destiny as the Anung Un Rama (Beast of Apocalypse). On the simple line Hellboy delivered, he was not only referring to being just a father, he was referring to becoming the person he once loved and respected; his surrogate father Professor Broom.

There are vague hints on the movie for a sequel. The Angel of Death scene reminds us that Hellboy is the Beast of Apocalypse, one who is prophesized to bring forth the end of the world. I am sure that this storyline detail will be expanded on a sequel. Most especially because Hellboy’s life is about to become far more complicated when his twin children will be born.

The cast did marvelously. Ron Pearlman, Selma Blair, and Doug Jones all did great as expected. Anna Walton as Nuala and Luke Goss as Nuada were impressive as the twin elf royalties. Jeffrey Tambor’s brief appearances also stand out. Seth McFarlane as Johann Kraus gave many of the film’s quirkily comedic scenes.

Guillermo Del Toro's creative signature style can really be seen in the movie; its creatures, its setting, and its world has the tone of Del Toro's style. Creatures like the Tooth Fairies, the Golden Army; they all look like they were designed by Del Toro. Del Toro's style blends perfectly well with Mike Mignola's creation. Their creative chemistry is as perfectly matched as Frank Miller and Bob Kane on Batman.

HELLBOY 2: THE GOLDEN ARMY is truly the year’s most enjoyable movie. Superior both as a crowd-pleasing movie and a critic-pleasing movie. It’s movies like this; with its monsters and its thrills that you really wanna watch on the big silver screen. I, for one, will be paying to watch it again this weekend. See you there.

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