Hellboy II: the Golden Army review

1 09 2008

We went and saw Hellboy II: the Golden Army on Saturday. We decided to go to an early session so we could get more done on Saturday. Ha! Big joke. Anyway after watching a mother abandon her two kids in the cinema (since when has dropping kids off at a movie been a legitimate form of babysitting? I can understand a 12 year old and older but under 10? That’s just wrong), we settled in to watch.

In the interests of full disclosure I should note here that I am a HUGE Hellboy fan. I adore the great red lunk. I read everything Hellboy whether that’s the adventures of our eponymous hero, BPRD or Lobster Johnson. So with that said how did I find Hellboy II: the Golden Army?

I loved it.

I enjoyed it more than any other film I have seen this year, and yes, that does include the Dark Knight. It seemed to capture everything I love about the character, he wisecracked, he smoked, he drank, and in keeping with the first film he saved cats. Abe Sapien (my favourite character from the comic) had a prominent role while Johann Krauss (probably my least favourite character) was surprisingly good. And there were Faeries – scary arse faeries with magical swords. All good in my eyes.

Now I love the Dark Knight. It is a masterpiece that overwhelms the senses. It brutalises us into submission with action scenes of awesome majesty but at the end I felt drained. I’m going to watch it again but it feels like I need to stretch first, work myself into it.

But my enjoyment of Hellboy II is different. It has a heart. And Hellboy IIs heart beats with the same love of the fantasy genre that mine does. The imagery is stunning. When they visit the troll market it is a veritable cavalcade of wonders. It reminded me of the art of Charles Vess, there’s always more going on the frame then you can glimpse at first. Adding to the fantasy vibe are the elements of quest narrative throughout such as when they meet the Angel of Death.

There is also a Miyazaki-like moment when Hellboy kills the forest god that Prince Nuada has summoned. The whole sequence and ethereal consequences echo both Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

And then there’s the stupendous fighting skills of Prince Nuada. Of course it helps that he’s armed with the coolest knife/spear that’s appeared in a movie. I’ve always been a sucker for weapons that are more than they seem – Monkey Magic’s expanding staff, the bone sword from Brotherhood of the Wolf but this one is probably the best.

That’s not to say there weren’t some duff bits. I didn’t like our reintroduction to the BPRD – it felt a bit too like Men in Black while the director of the BPRD Tom Manning was too comic. I felt like I was watching Arrested Development at times.

But Hellboy II felt like a film made for me. I loved it and the only thing that makes me sad is we’re going to be waiting a long time for the next one.

(Of course the fact that Hellboy III is going to take so long because of the Hobbit is reason for joy in itself)  





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