Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Hellboy II: The Golden Army is one of those niche films based on a niche comic book directed by a niche director. By all accounts, it shouldn’t do well with mainstream audiences. But it’s just too damn good to not do well. I think because director Guillermo del Toro is just too damn bizarre to resist.
Hellboy (Ron Pearlman) has his hands full in the newest installment. Not only is firey girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair) demanding more out of the relationship, but an elvish prince is seeking to take world domination away from the humans. By using an unstoppable army. A golden army. Now Hellboy, Liz and Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) must join forces with Johann Krauss (Seth MacFarlane) and the princes sister to prevent the centuries old truce between the two races from being broken.
Hellboy, the character, let’s talk about him. Ron Pearlman brings a sarcastic, sardonic, anti-hero attitude to the big red beast, playing the character to perfection. He’s a reluctant hero, but he’s not as scornful towards the people he saves as they are to him. He understands that he has a job to do, and does it, despite the rejection from the public. And Pearlman exudes that. It’s not too many people who would be able to play so well through piles of make-up, but Pearlman is the perfect match for the character.
As an actor, he’s able to balance the character’s conflicts. He never emphasizes one over the other, as they are all equally important to the story. His internal conflict with who he is and who he could be, his constant arguments with Liz about where their relationship is heading, and his duty to save humanity from the forces of the golden army.
Guillermo del Toro launches himself to the position of greatest modern fantasy director with this film, as if El Laberinto del Fauno didn’t already cement that title for him. His ability to create a visual spectacle that leaves you amazed, breathless and hungry for more is unmatched, even against heavyweights Peter Jacksons, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. del Toro takes fantasy to the extreme, yet keeps it simple. He doesn’t rely on the CG like the rest tend to.
The only complaint I really do have is that he tried to cram too much into the film. It’s too busy, there’s too much going on. He should have dialed it back, especially in the first act. It’s such an overload of bizarre creatures, that you’re hoping for rest, which you never get.
For a perfect mix of comedy, action and fantasy, it doesn’t get any better than Hellboy.