Two years ago, I fell in love with the magnificently creepy film “Pan’s Labyrinth” and subsequently its writer and director Guillermo del Toro.
At the time, I told myself I would check out all of his previous movies (slipped my mind) and would keep my eyes open for any other project of his.
A few weeks past, I am sitting through awful theatrical trailers for a movie I cannot recall when the words “From the director of Pan’s Labyrinth” come on the screen, and my interest is immediately piqued. At first, it looked like a sequel to the movie, which wouldn’t make much sense knowing how it ended, but it turns out it was the second installment to his 2004 movie “Hellboy,” which I did not see, nor want to based on title prejudice.
However, the trailers and the magical creatures for “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” looked so awesome I decided I had to see it even without knowing anything about the first movie or its origins. (To sum it up; Hellboy (played by Ron Perlman) is a kitten, beer and candy loving, red-skinned demon from “below” who fights against evil with his amphibious friend Abe (Doug Jones) and pyrokenetic girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair).)
In the opening scene, a young Hellboy, complete with horns and buckteeth, is arguing with his adopted father (John Hurt) over bedtime. He wants to finish watching “Howdy Doody,” and the good Professor Broom says he needs his beauty sleep. They compromise when the Professor suggests telling him a tale about a conflict between the humans and the forest creatures centuries ago.
In Cliff’s Notes version, humans have always been awful polluters, as well as deceivers. Forest creatures got tired of it and created hundreds of indestructible warriors called the Golden Army. The Golden Army layeth the smack down and a truce was called. The Elf King broke the crown, which called forth the Golden Army into three pieces, two that remained in his possession and the other going to the human realm as a sign of faith. His brooding son, Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) leaves the forest realm in disgust and vows to reunite the pieces when the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” comes out.
Back in the present and many years later, Hellboy is working as an agent with the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense in New Jersey and things are not going too well for our demon superhero. His boss (Jeffrey Tambor) is constantly riding him because of his frequent public outings, and his girlfriend wants some time apart due to personal reasons (she’s pregnant).
Then the great visuals happen; it turns out the Elf Prince is real and decides its time to unleash the Golden Army. To get the human piece of the crown, he unleashes these tiny tooth fairies onto auction goers and they eat through their teeth and then burrow through their flesh, then sets this majestic elemental being that’s skyscraper tall loose upon the inhabitants of New York and Hellboy for helping to save the human race.
Faced with scorn over his appearance and world saving decisions, Hellboy wonders if he really is on the right side of the fight. Thankfully, his brooding isn’t so much “woe is me,” it’s more like “let’s get drunk with Abe Sapien and sing a Barry Manilow’ song.”
“Hellboy II” doesn’t go the way many sequels go with their over the top action sequences, bad dialogue and even worse special effects, which I was thankful for. Everything in this movie is top notch, sort of to my surprise. At present in Hollywood, I don’t think there is anyone better than del Toro at creating mystical and magical creatures that are somehow terrifying and beautiful at the same time. The man is just amazing, as well as the special effects creators who work with him.
In the summer of constant comic book adaptations, “Hellboy II” stands out amongst the crowd with its dazzling visuals, great direction and humor. Now I think I really will go back and see del Toro’s previous films, or at least the first “Hellboy.”
I gave this film a B+.
Dedra Cordle is a Messenger staff writer.