Welcome back to Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly blog about something in my movie library that I've watched recently. We return to the cinematic saga of Hellboy with Hellboy II: The Golden Army. This appears in my notes at July 28, 2013.
Alright, let's finish what we started last time and move on to the second Hellboy film, The Golden Army.
When last we left our intrepid hero, the film version of Hellboy was a moderate hit, but no one was beating down any doors to make a sequel. So director Guillermo del Toro went on to make Pan's Labyrinth, which was nominated for a bunch of Oscars, was a critical darling, and a moderate hit. Now, armed with all this critical love, del Toro could go back to his dream project, which was continuing the Hellboy cinematic saga.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army has a very different feel to it than the first one. del Toro was fresh off his fantasy epic Pan's Labyrinth. Over in the comic book world, Hellboy's creator Mike Mignola had been doing a lot of research into the folklores and mythologies of the world to find more enemies for Hellboy to fight. As such, the comics were starting to take a turn from HP Lovecraft-style horror to fantasy. You take that turn in the comics, plus a director who's fresh off one of the most critically acclaimed fantasy films of its year, and the resulting Hellboy II does look and feel more like a fantasy film than the X-Files-ish scares of the first film.
Plus, much like I mentioned when I wrote of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Hellboy II does seem to revel more in the goofier aspects of its universe. While the first one did have that X-Files kind of feel to it, this one feels more like Ghostbusters or Men in Black. There's a lot more humour and that comic book sense of fun being injected into it.
The plot. Once upon a time, a long time ago, humans and beings of magic co-existed, but they were driven to warring with each other. The Elven King, ruler of the beings of magic, called for the creation of a Golden Army, 70 x 70 mechanical soldiers that were unbeatable in battle.
Seeing the horrible devastation that this caused, the Elven King ended all hostilities and called a truce. Humans would get the cities, and the magical beings would stay in forests. And so the truce remained until modern times, when humans began dismissing magical folk as being fairy tales and encroached upon the forests. Prince Nuada, son of the Elven King, wants to unleash the Golden Army and reclaim the Earth for beings of magic. So, it's up to Hellboy and the BPRD to save the day.
Of course, our heroes get some new allies, such as Johann Krauss. Following an accident during a seance, Krauss is pretty much a ghost, and he must stay within a special containment suit lest he dissipate and cease to exist. He's got the neat trick where he can leave his suit for brief periods and posses stuff. In one of his first major motion picture roles, Krauss is voiced by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. He does OK, but sometimes he has trouble emoting through the thick, fake German accent he's got going on.
It's a bit of a reunion of sorts, too, as the villain, Prince Nuada, is played by Luke Goss, who del Toro had play the lead Reaper Nomak in Blade II. Nuada, though, is more cold, calculating, and just truly wants what's best for his people. That being said, he's still evil and will still mow down anyone who gets in his way.
There's been some developments, too. Liz Sherman, again played by Selma Blair, has been developed quite nicely. As I said last time, Liz was a very troubled woman. Her powers caused her to do damage, and in doing so, damaged herself. But this time out, she's more in control of her powers, and as such, is far more confident. She's not willing to take any of Hellboy's crap, and if I may say so, she's bit more of a badass this time out.
Abe Sapien also gets a nice subplot. Complicating things is the fact that Abe has fallen in love with Princess Nuala, Nuada's brother, and he tries to reconcile those feelings. Nuala is on the side of good, and trying to stop her brother, but the hitch is, they feel each other's pain, so the death of one would kill the other. Can Abe bring himself to harm his beloved in order to save the world?
And Hellboy himself. He's tired of living in the shadows, and early in the film, he takes advantage of an event to make sure he and the BRPD are finally revealed to the world in a big, loud explosive way. But then, we start falling into the more typical superhero tropes where he's branded a freak and wonders if he'll ever fit in in normal society.
And like I said, with the goofier elements, we can't ignore the scene where Hellboy and Abe, both going through their women troubles, get drunk and sing Barry Manilow.
But yeah. I'm about rambled out. Hellboy II is a very different film than its predecessor, but it's still very fun.