Thanks to the perception of an ancient truce being broken between the world of man and the creatures of myth, the prince of the Elves, Nuada, wants to wage war against humankind with an army of unstoppable warriors. Now it’s in the hands of Hellboy and B.P.R.D. to stop Nuada and save the world, while dealing with their own issues of the heart.
And that’s the simplified premise to Hellboy II: The Golden Army the sequel to Hellboy based around Mike Mignola’s popular comic book character. It’s been awhile since I’ve read any of Hellboy’s stories (I’m waiting for Mignola to come back and do it all again(, but I did watch the first movie again right before seeing this one. And in comparison to the first, I think this one is simply OK on a theatrical viewing, but bound to improve on future viewings at home (which is how the first one works for me as well, though I was way more enthusiastic about that one on the first theatrical viewing).
Guillermo Del Toro is back at the helm for this and while he’s still certainly up to speed with what he does visually and with the action of the piece, there’s a couple of key character pieces that have been changed and not at least on my first viewing for the better of the film. The first being the character of Tom Manning (played by Jeffrey Tambor), who at least in the first film was a pretty strong-willed character and here is made much more of a buffoon. The second is that Abe Sapien (played and this time also voiced by Doug Jones) is just a little more gawky this time around than the first, some of which can be explained by something that happens to Abe in the space of the film, but still even at the start, Abe doesn’t quite seem the same this time around.
There’s also a few moments that just seem there for pure audience pandering for the quick laugh (in particular Hellboy and Abe Sapien singing while being drunk and lamenting their love lives) that induce a little bit of a cringe here and there… I get why Del Toro would make the choice to do these things, but I don’t necessarily think the movie needs these moments in order to get their point across.
On the plus side though, I thought that the new character introduced here, the new head of the B.P.R.D., the ectoplasmic Johann Kraus was pretty cool and wonderfully voiced by Seth MacFarlane.
Ron Perlman as Hellboy is just solid as a rock though, and totally at home with this character. Selma Blair as Elizabeth Sherman is just sort of “OK” this time around, not really arousing much of anything here, but fulfilling the part. but I also give high marks to Luke Goss as Prince Nuada, who does a great job of this driven prince who feels wronged by the world of man.
Most of my problem though is just with a few choices made by Del Toro (as mentioned above) and as I said, these are things that will probably play better on later viewings at home more than on the big screen. So in the end, I enjoyed it, but it has it’s problems, so you’re own mileage might vary- It’s amazing though, no less than four comic book-based films in theatres right now, and next week it’ll be five of them and so far Hellboy II: The Golden Army is the weakest of those, but still worthy of viewing on other merits.