Adolescent pulp fantasia meets sentimental married life in Guillermo del Toro’s follow-up to his 2004 working-class superhero movie Hellboy. Chomping on his cigar and launching into battle with all the enthusiasm of a plumber digging around under the sink, Ron Perlman’s demonic good guy Hellboy is as appealing as lovable Sesame Street icon Oscar the Grouch. Though Hellboy II caters to the fanboy crowd that wants to see rock ’em, sock ’em monster fights, del Toro’s strength as a filmmaker is the same as Peter Jackson’s in The Lord of the Rings: an ability to create a legion of creatures and their fantasy worlds, then take the time to give these beasties a very specific look that defies CGI whitewashing. Their bodily imperfections, all warped faces and stretched-out limbs, are marvelous to behold, and Hellboy II, even more than Pan’s Labyrinth, is an indication of what’s to come when del Toro finally tackles The Hobbit. Hellboy and his team of heroes must stop the powers of darkness from unleashing the Golden Army, an indestructible force of wind-up clockwork people that lurch forward on springs and gears, while at the same time our hero has to deal with the pent-up frustrations of his girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair) and figure out why she’s so mad at him. For better or worse, the plots resolve themselves with the bare minimum of complications. Del Toro overcompensates with busy camerawork and slapstick humor (Hellboy mutters, “Aw, crap,” before getting punched through a wall one too many times), but the tone is set from the very first scene that this is a pop-up children’s book with lively pictures and a wide, wonderful rogues’ gallery of imaginatively Lovecraftian creatures.
- Guillermo del Toro
- Guillermo del Toro
- Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Seth MacFarlane, Luke Goss, Anna Walton, Jeffrey Tambor, John Hurt
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