Four years ago, director Guillermo del Toro brought to life a unique comic book hero named Hellboy in the film by the same name.
This was a film I ultimately skipped and waited to see on video, only to find that it had its moments but just wasn't my kind of film.
Del Toro made no bones about stuffing plenty of violence into 122 minutes, with the worst of it being caused by or involving a character named
Kroenen who was the henchman of the evil Rasputin and the "victim" of self-mutilation (which we see in all its disturbing glory
more than once, albeit briefly). Still, there was something about Ron Perlman's demon-child-turned-rosary-carrying wisecracking
hero that was charming and fun to watch. With the release of del Toro's second Hellboy adventure, Hellboy II: The Golden Army,
we're reintroduced to "Red" and his pals as they are enlisted to save mankind once again... sans the likes of Kroenen and Rasputin, thankfully.
Del Toro loaded Hellboy with all kinds of Christian imagery (and, at the same time, "balanced" it out with unnecessary
blasphemy), enough to start a few discussions. Hellboy II is a lot less forward with any kind of Christian themes, but
you'll find quite of bit of imagery thrown in throughout the film - from large glowing cross-shaped signs on a building in the
background of a key fight scene, to uses of "777," and characters wearing crosses during the film. However, any kind of Christian references
or similarities end there. As a sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army feels partly a natural continuation of the first
film and partly a forced, fabricated sequel. When the film begins with a poorly executed flashback to when Hellboy was a child
to set up the film's plot (little Hellboy looks about as good and convincing as the little Grinch did in Ron Howard's live action
rendition), it's easy to get the sinking feeling you're in for a terrible sequel. However, once Hellboy II gets through
its setup and past a few heavy-handed attempts to feel "bigger and better" (please, the troll market sequence wasn't necessary),
the film hits its stride and finds its footing. When del Toro gets his desire to up the ante out of the way and focuses on the characters
and story at hand, he succeeds in delivering some great comedy and some impressively choreographed action sequences. At times it feels
like del Toro may be trying too hard to fit too many story ideas into one film - from subplot love stories to life-and-death rescue
attempts to Red's desire to be discovered and accepted by the human race. While none of the side trails are left unresolved, it
ultimately just feels a bit scrambled in thought and execution - like a bunch of different ideas had been brought to the table
and then were all forced into one single script. The result isn't as bad as I'm making it out to sound, but there's still that
feeling like del Toro tried to do too much at once this time around.
But The Golden Army certainly has its moments. The scene where the FBI team investigates a decimated auction only to
discover an immense amount of nasty little creatures called tooth fairies is altogether creepy and entertaining. From there,
del Toro spends more time trying to show off effects and new creature designs than frighten his audience (which is fine by me),
and proceeds to deliver several fun and exciting action sequences - from Red breaking out his gun, "Big Baby," to the film's final
showdown. Also, the humor is as very much a part of the film this time around as it was the first time, with the standout scene
being when Red and Blue share some lovesick sentiment over a six pack. Even if del Toro options for a cheap laugh or two, they're executed
nicely and serve as film highlights.
While Hellboy II: The Golden Army overall feels more toned down than its predecessor (which is an impression you
won't get from the first quarter of the film), this sequel is still very much an intensely violent and rough sci-fi action/adventure
flick. There are plenty of creatures that are the kinds of things nightmares are made of, so I wouldn't take the kids to this.
Also, language isn't atrocious, but there's a few uses of blasphemy, as well a handful of "d*mn," "cr*p," and "a**." There's also
a play on the "f" word where a character speaking with a german accent says the word "focused" but pronounces it in a way that
sounds like a profanity, and Red repeats it recommending that he doesn't say it that way.
Overall, Hellboy II is a bit of an improvement over the first movie, mainly in the graphic violence department, but
may not be as finely executed. Still, Hellboy II: The Golden Army is an action-packed superhero story that mixes elements
reminiscent of Men In Black (for better or worse, but it just barely escapes the kinds of missteps that the MIB sequel took to
ruin what should have been a great follow-up) or Star Wars to present viewers with an otherworldly alternate reality
where an unlikely hero like Hellboy is keeping us safe from all kinds of fantastical evil. The Golden Army is good enough
to warrant a third outing, but if that should come to pass, let's hope del Toro doesn't go the Shrek The Third route to let
it all completely unravel in the end.
If you have any questions or comments about the film before you see it (if you decide to), feel free to contact me.
- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 7/15/08)
Parental Guide: Brief Summary of Content
We learn that Liz is pregnant. We even see her with a pregnancy test with it pink on one side and a white plus sign appearing on it
(during this, she's in the bathroom wearing a tank top and black panties, but nothing revealing is shown. We see her in that outfit
again later on); We see Hellboy in the shower but steam blocks any nudity below the waist
6 "d*mn," 5 "cr*p," 2 "J-sus," 3 "a" words, 1 said as "Gas-hole" (used as a substitute), 2 "h*ll," 4 "Oh my G-d," 1 "G-d"
Krauss pronounces the word "focused" in a way that sounds like the "f" word. Red then repeats this pronunciation to warn him that he
doesn't suggest he say it that way (in total, it's said twice).
We see Red and Abe get drunk off of beer (we see Hellboy drinking beer a few times during the movie -- and his locker is filled with
beer cans) and we see them stumbling around, slurring their words, and acting drunk.
During a fight, we see Prince Nuada slicing and beheading men or creatures with large helmets, therefore we see the huge helmets
falling to the ground on a couple occasions, but it's nothing bloody or gory - but it's obvious he's decapitating them; We also see
Nuada lunge at a human with his sword, presumably beheading him, but we only hear the sound as the scene cuts;
When we see little tiny creatures called tooth fairies flying around and gnawing on anyone around them (Abe pulls one off his
arm and we see what looks like a blue fleshy wound on his arm), and Abe tells Red that all they do is eat and poop and we find that
the goop on the ground under their feet is excrement; As the tooth fairies attack, we see one under a human agent's clothes as he's
being bitten (it's quick and it's not definite we see blood). During the attack, we see many tooth fairies squish into goo and
we see two human agents overtaken by them. During one attack, they pull at his eye lid and mouth (not gory) while we see the other
man is reduced to skeletal remains on the ground; Prince Nuada and Princess Nuala both have bloody noses after a fight;
Hellboy has a bloody nose after a fight; Hellboy has a tiny bloody cut on his cheek after being hit with some unseen object;
Prince Nuada holds a knife to Princess Nuala's face and slightly cuts her cheek. Both his and her cheeks then show a little blood;
Hellboy has a bloody cut on his chest with a blade sticking out of it. We then see a blood soaked bandage around that area;
We see some blood on Nuala's arm through her sleeve; A person stabs themselves and we see some blood on their clothing; Hellboy
has some blood around his mouth after/during a fight
Lots of action violence. We hear that the tooth fairies eat people (we learn about 70 or so) starting with their teeth first.
We see them attacking people and being blown into goo by gun shots, etc; Nuada slices up a large number of soldiers and stabs
the king; Some comedic violence is included, but other violence involves Hellboy fighting a large troll-like beast, a gigantic
plant-like monster, huge robots, and a couple one-on-one battles with Prince Nuada, as well as other action violence
** Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most
reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not on content. However, if the content
really affects the reviewer's opinion of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's rating.