Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Film Goes to Hell

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

Starring: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair

By Robert Patrick

Guillermo Del Toro, director of both Hellboy and Hellboy II, loves monsters. In fact, Del Toro is such an unwavering fan of mythological creatures he prefers to make movies not about humans, but about otherworldly beings. Being well aware that the Spanish born director loves things that go bump in the night, it’s probably a good thing that he is a denizen of the Hellboy series, even if it doesn’t always benefit us.

Though Del Toro is well versed with the Hellboy comic book, I am not, which leads me to believe that I may be handicapped when explaining the storyline. Oh well. If you’re familiar with the last installment of the franchise, you know that Hellboy is iron red, ill tempered, and an often intoxicated creature of sorts who works for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Activity. He chews on cigars like W.C. Fields, drinks beer with the gluttonous ferocity of a frat boy, and blows things up – even when he shouldn’t – much like any entertaining screen cop should. Hellboy, if I can make the comparison, is a combination of both Mel Gibson from Lethal Weapon and the Bruce Banner character from the Incredible Hulk.

Hellboy, much like X-Men character Wolverine, is a part of a paranormal committee of organized mutants. Aimed to quell the intermittent uprisings of evil creatures, the committee acts on the behalf of rationality, not megalomaniacal behavior, to stop their mutant counterparts from destroying humanity. Blah, blah, blah.

I feel kind of wrought with duty to compare Hellboy to Wolverine; the two fictional beasties are both equally tormented, mostly good, and feel out of place with the rest of society. They are rogues – not only to the human world, but to the world of the gifted and strange. But, to put it as politely as I can, I really don’t care about these characters, I only care that their similarities do, indeed, exist. And that I should, for the sake of a better, more educated review, mention it here.

In Del Toro’s sequel, Hellboy and company find themselves pitted against an Elf that wants to annihilate humanity. Really, no matter how much I try, I can’t make that synopsis look any better than that. I apologize. I guess it also doesn’t bother Del Toro, no matter how obvious, that his Elf character looks strangely like a vampire design from the movie Underworld.

Anyway, the Elf character, forgive me for my reluctance to look up his actual name, figures that humanity has breached its contract with mother nature, and that they should all parish by way of crazy CGI effects. In the meantime, Hellboy has other problems on his hands, especially when he finds out that his flame, Liz Sherman, is pregnant. If this subplot doesn’t feed your need for romance, then be ready for every other creature in this movie to fall in and out of love – even a disembodied and effeminate sounding voice made out of noxious gas has its heart broken. This character, in particular, I felt the most connection to.

I suspect you are waiting to hear about the little action there is. We do get to see yet another action sequence take place in the streets of a large city. I was really, in the most anxious part of my heart, hoping to see another action scene with cars being plowed through by giant mutated things, because Iron Man, Transformers, and the Incredible Hulk didn’t do that in the last twelve months.

I’ve read a lot of reviews of Hellboy II, many of them good, praising Del Toro’s fanciful imagination. I agree with them. If anything, Del Toro is a fantastic director with good ideas. But it seems like Hellboy II is a mash-up of his prior endeavors. The film spills over with leftover prosthetic limbs from the much better Pans Labyrinth before finally over-stuffing itself with make-up sketches from Blade II. Sorry, guys, I really cant find that much to impress me this time around.

Next, please.


Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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