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Review: Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Hellboy 2

Guillermo del Toro brings his visual genius to Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

There’s no question that you will leave Hellboy II: The Golden Army with a deep appreciation for the visual genius of Guillermo del Toro. Director, screenwriter, designer and probably-secretly-demigod behind this series, del Toro also helmed Pan’s Labyrinth and many other effects-heavy films of the last decade. Hellboy II is testament to del Toro’s carefully inspired designs; gothic creations from a man who must by now surely match the late Jim Henson for his dedication to not just puppetry – but instilling wonder; bringing surprise and originality back to audiences who are rapidly switching off to Hollywood’s epics and their CG orgasms.

So out of his famed sketchbooks poured another bestiary of characters and creatures, and you will remember Hellboy II’s Angel of Death and ‘Wink’ as some of the best. But the bad news will slap you in the face from the opening scenes – del Toro’s script and ability to evoke performance from his cast sits somewhere farther below his artistic, visionary knack.

There are a lot of surprises in Hellboy II; we won’t spoil them for you. Suffice to say, all the major characters return for another bout at saving the human race, and in doing so, they finally enter the public spotlight. At the centre of the plotline is an object with a Lord of the Rings ‘One ring’ mentality and a villain who would use it to activate ‘The Golden Army’, the details of which we’ll spare you.

All of this is presented in a hugely enjoyable, nonchalant way, where the audience is effectively handed monsters, creatures and parallel worlds and get told more or less to deal with it. It worked well for Men in Black – stick the main characters in a fantastical situation and watch their mostly mundane responses to them. In Hellboy 2, the troll markets sequence probably stands as the best example of this – and also of del Toro’s visual mastery – as Hellboy, alongside

Ron Perlman’s portrayal of Hellboy is dripping with sarcasm. He’s perfect as the disinterested everyman who happens to be bright red and gigantic. As a blue-collar tradesman, Hellboy presents an interesting character to watch; the way Perlman almost drags his heels when he shambles into battle. del Toro adds a strange vulnerability to Red that, more than in the first film, ends up steering the whole latter half of the film.

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