“You woke up Baby!” And he’s only half talking about the one crying in his arms. This is followed by the firing of the big friggin’ gun oft-used by Hellboy himself. It makes things go “boom!” It tends to make a mess.
You know, it turns out, if you give director Guillermo Del Toro even more money, he’ll make Hellboy II an even bigger, more mind-blowing movie than the first one. And what a remarkable spectacle we get. Hellboy II: The Golden Army has “more”: more insane, unique, other-worldly creatures; more amazing practical effects as well as CGI ones; more strange and interesting locations; more humor; and more of Abe Sapien, all of which are great.
Doug Jones, who plays Abe Sapien, gets more screen time in this film. I think that’s a good thing. Selma Blair, as fire-starter Liz Sherman, gets about the same, if not a little more, and certainly scores a pivotal plot point for the future of this franchise.
We also get more of the relationship between Hellboy and Liz Sherman, which we don’t really need, but I guess someone decided they couldn’t live without it. But it doesn’t really ruin anything. It was slightly humorous, too, so it was bearable.
But when you introduce the idea of a demon from Hell and a woman with severe pyro-kinetic abilities reproducing, it starts to feel like a line is being crossed. Let’s not go “Cheaper by the Dozen” on us just yet. Maybe one or two moments that were just too silly could have been cut from the love story, but the complaint is small.
Back to the good stuff: this movie is B-I-G. It’s a smorgasbord for the eyes, but without the lutfisk and jellied pig’s feet! (Oh, I could tell you what lutfisk is if you don’t know, but if you think the jellied pig’s feet sounds bad, then ignorance truly is bliss.) The story, although not without gargantuan creatures and much action, provides a little more drama, but no less spectacle or creativity.
The effects are beautiful. I loved the practical ones in particular. The creatures are varied and many. There’s some real imagination at work here. And they really make such a great case for doing things old school; CG is fine for some things, but to really make things feel like they’re there, they need to take up real space with the actors. This stuff is well done. It’s just what you’ve come to expect from a guy like Guillermo Del Toro. He knows how to pick a creative team.
Speaking of which, I think I counted, like, 17 guys on the crew named “Zoltan.” Maybe the name’s like “John” in the Czech Republic. Who knows.
Del Toro and his team create such a remarkable visual world, it’s hard to not look all over the screen. Seriously, this thing is chock full. And the action sequences are great. I noticed a much-improved use of flying cables. There were one or two scenes in the first Hellboy that I thought looked obvious. It’s much better here.
This is big summer fantasy fun with a capital FUN. Turn off your brain and enjoy this ride.
~ Neil Weakley, your man on the street in the theater. Or whatever.