Posted on August 7, 2008 by Monica Valentinelli
As a fan of Big Red, I was eagerly anticipating seeing this sequel to Hellboy after watching the Hellboy and the Golden Army trailer and hearing about Guillermo del Toro’s involvement with the film. Impressed with del Toro’s work on Pan’s Labyrinth and Christopher Golden‘s novelization of Hellboy with artist Mike Mignola, I went into the movie with certain expectations. Like other films and content within the Hellboy franchise–you do not need to be familiar with the characters or the setting to watch this film.
The opening scene for The Golden Army set the stage for a larger-than-life story based on an ancient hatred between fairy and man. It seems that Hellboy’s bedtime story, told by Professor Broom, was actually not just a sad, little fairy tale after all. If you remember films like Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal, you’ll love the opening scene and it’s retro, shadowbox feel.
Ron Perlman as Hellboy is the same, lovable red guy as we saw in the first movie, in love with fiery Liz, played by Selma Blair. The consequences of their unusual love affair are profound, as their relationship takes a front seat in this film. Doug Jones–who has also played Abe Sapien in other Hellboy properties, like the animated Hellboy: Blood and Iron–offers his friendship, his advice, and his flaws.
The trio become embroiled with a royal exiled fairy named Prince Nuada, after the Prince realizes that one of the keys to reclaiming the Fairy’s place in the world of men is sitting in an auction house. His vicious attack, using a deadly swarm of “tooth fairies,” sounds the alarm for our unlikely heroes. In rushes The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD), replete with agents and our supernatural trio to try and figure out what happened. Hellboy has other plans, however, besides taking care of the tooth fairies and soon he winds up standing in the middle of a sea of reporters.
Frustrated with a life in exile, Hellboy wishes to escape to the world of men, while Prince Nuada–well played by Luke Goss–wants to erase it. The conflict between the two characters splits the film in half, as Hellboy’s dark comedic nature lifts the film and brushes aside some of the more poignant moments. You’ll find yourself rooting for Prince Nuada, at times, even when he rushes in to face his father (the Fairy King) and capture his twin sister, all for the sake of raising an indestructible, golden army that even the Greek god Hephaestus would be proud of.
Abe Sapien is the moral compass in this film, simultaneously falling for and rescuing the fairy Princess Nualla, who tries to keep the secrets of the Golden Army away from her brother. The attention focused on his character is a nice shift from Hellboy’s beat-‘em-up and send-them-flying action, and works well with the sensitive and beautifully-depicted Nualla, played by Anna Walton.
The creepy, Lovecraftian feel is perpetuated in this film by the introduction of a paranormal windbag named Johann Krauss, sent to monitor–if not contain–Hellboy. Once out in the open and Hellboy’s identity is verified, Krauss is the new overseer of the BPRD and he does not take kindly to anyone who refuses to follow the rules.
From the Troll Market to Ireland, the film weaves and twists into different beautifully-crafted locales with stunning scenery and gorgeous costuming–so much so that my only regret is not being able to see more of the fairy world. The Angel of Death (also played by Doug Jones) and Wink (played by Brian Steele) are just two examples of the influence that Del Toro must have had on this film.
The best moment for me, out of the whole movie, was the scene with Prince Nuada, Hellboy, and the rampaging elemental. Prince Nuada tries to convince Hellboy not to kill the creature, as it is the last of its kind–much like Hellboy. Nuada reminds us that the plight for all things unique and different is one we have to choose to follow, that him and his kind are true aliens in a world overrun by man. Unfortunately, here is also the exact spot where the movie splits as we can’t help but feel sorry for the prince and his people–truly, his uncontrollable revenge on mankind makes Duada almost as tragic as his sister.
Inventive characters, tremendous makeup and scenery and our favorite guy in a trenchcoat make this an excellent sequel to the first film. Other than the predictable ending, there are many memorable moments in a film that straddles the line between morality and justice. Worth seeing on the big screen, I recommend going to see Hellboy II: the Golden Army as an example of how modern fantasy should be portrayed.