Saturday, July 12, 2008
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Different directors have different strengths and weaknesses. Some directors are experts at assembling and shooting compelling and elaborate action set pieces. Others are great at using just the right camera angle to make you feel the awe of a giant robot or an alien invasion. Others know just how to get the most emotionally charged performances from their actors. There are some that are not good at anything at all, but that's another story.
Gillermo del Toro's particular genius is in presenting us with bizarre and imaginative creatures, one after another. Whether that makes for a great movie or not, I'm convinced, depends mostly on whoever the writers are, because del Toro is not one who excels at saving a weak script. If you wish to see evidence of this, watch Blade 2 (if you dare).
This brings me to Hellboy II: The Golden Army. As the title would suggest, this is a sequel. The first film suffered from a near incomprehensible ending (again, del Toro's inability - or perhaps unwillingness - to save a flawed script). This second film does not have the same problem. The events may be unbelievable, but they are never unclear.
For those who don't know, Hellboy is the creation of comic book writer/artist Mike Mignola. The movie looks astoundingly like Mignola's art, and Ron Perlman in the title role is an inspired choice.
Visually, the film is stunning. Every scene, no, every frame is lush and colorful with interesting things to gawk at. It's a sumptuous feast for the eyes.
But will you like it? That depends. Does the idea of a sardonic, cigar-smoking demon, raised by humans, who now fights for good but is ultimately destined to destroy the world pique your interest? How about if he has a tumultuous romantic relationship with a girl who bursts into flame? What if his best friend is a fishy, erudite amphibian who is vaguely reminiscent of C-3PO? Would you like to see creatures bizarre enough to make the ones in the cantina in Star Wars seem almost commonplace?
If your answer is yes, this is the movie for you. It won't disappoint. It's made with enough competence and internal consistency that you'll likely love it. If this sort of thing is not your cup of tea, you'll probably not enjoy yourself.
I enjoyed it. Also, there's a scene in the middle of the movie that made me laugh a lot. That scores a lot of points with me.
I'd give it 3 1/2 out of five stars.