Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Guillermo del Toro's second stab at the Hellboy series isn't exactly a great film, but it's mostly enjoyable throughout and filled with the same visual inventiveness that was hinted at in smaller doses in Pan's Labyrinth. Whereas the first film felt basically like another super hero movie, albeit a bit of a quirky one, this movie is much more of a straight fantasy. From the background that's explained with stop motion puppets to the incredible makeup (Hellboy himself being among the least impressive) to some larger CG creatures, the movie looks astounding. It's not as technically correct as some bigger films, but just in terms of visual imagination and pulling it off in an interesting way, it's extremely successful and just fun to watch. Besides the special effects, the action scenes are pretty good too. They seem a bit sped up in places, but the villain has a cool style and whenever he's wrecking peoples' shit it's entertaining.

Not everything else about the movie is as good, though. The story actually has quite a few niggling problems. The main cast is solid, especially Ron Perlman as the titular character. He and Selma Blair are okay together, and it's nice that their relationship has advanced in a human way, but the problems they face are a bit too sitcom-esque at first. And Abe's character arc also comes off a bit hokey. Near the beginning Hellboy's existence is revealed to the world, and the negative reaction from the public seems forced and unnecessary to the story. It's really not a very subtle script, but the end result is generally pretty watchable. Doug Jones' dedication to getting into tons of makeup to play multiple parts is admirable as always, though. Seth MacFarlane makes a surprising appearance voicing a new, slightly goofy German character, that ends up being pretty likable. Hellboy II's the kind of movie that's best enjoyed when not taken completely seriously.

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