Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army

Somebody help me.

Guillermo Del Toro has made a couple of films that garnered quite the critical acclaim, including Blade 2, Pan's Labyrinth, The Devil's Backbone, Hellboy, and what I'll shortly talk about here, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. He is able to make amazing visuals for characters, sets, creatures and concepts. These usually includes extraordinarily detailed, memorable, creepy designs that really project the sense of the story taking place in a bizarre, magical universe of it's own. Although this quality of filming doesn't particularly show in Blade 2, both of the Hellboy films definitely do this, and with a bit of style. Here's the thing..........

This man cannot tell a story worth his life. I ask for someone to help me, because the rest of the world seems to fervently disagree and I feel backed into a corner here.

Hellboy 2 stars Ron Perlman as the titular character, a red demon with shaved horns, a huge right hand and a tail. After being found off the coast of Scotland as a baby and raised in the U.S. by a Professor Bruttenholm, he is subsequently employed by the fictional Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. As obligated by job, he, along with a fish creature and a pyrokinetic who is his girlfriend, is tasked with investigating and stopping an elf who wants to awaken a golden army of Steampunk-style robots to destroy all humans.

I thought the plot was unique upon first reading about it, but I still didn't want to watch because it looked like it would suck as bad as the first one did. A friend I hadn't hung with in a long time wanted to see it, and in the midst of us doing so, I found that my expectations for the film were accurate.

Del Toro's visual style, which employs anamatronics and real costumes for creatures rather than computerized graphics, sometimes damages him. Apart from the dialogue being taken straight out of a cheesy fantasy film from the 1970's, some of the performances in film, like Hellboy's child-self in the beginning, come across extremely clunky and stupid. The story, from opening credits to close, feels rushed and empty, especially when topped with terrible action-hero punchlines. The film's only real merits were the villain Nuada (Luke Goss), who captivated my attention more than anything, and a few action parts.

I finally realized that del Toro does B-movies, or movies that don't really have self-importance or any real artistic goal. Movies that suck on purpose. Peter Jackson, who works include the new King Kong and the Lord of the Rings series, has history with and employs the same visual style. But his films are good! The characters have depth and are realistic. The narrative is intelligent. People enjoy the suck in B-movies and find some kind of cult value or novelty in it. I can't see it. But even with the B-movie approach, or I should say, even knowing in what light to view the film, Hellboy 2 does not entertain me.

Del Toro, in my general opinion, just makes terrible films. The Fascist general's story in Pan's Labyrinth was good, but the best thing Del Toro ever filmed was Blade 2. And not because it was inherently good, just that it was the best out of all three Blade films.

But don't take my word for it. Guillermo del Toro is a critically acclaimed filmmaker, so I would still recommend watching Hellboy 2 for yourself if you're in the mood for such a story.


  1. Don't Feed The PixiesJuly 16, 2008 at 6:31 AM

    Hmmm, not convinced - any film with former boy band member Luke Goss (from Bros) in can't be much cop - but i've been wrong before

  2. I'm going to see this tomorrow with some friends because it's on my 25 Must See Movies of 2008 list. I have high hopes for it because of Del Toro, but I feel like a lot of the acclaim for HB2 is clouded by the perception of awesomeness that stems from his previous works. I'm going in there ignoring all of his previous work and hoping to come out with a clear perspective on how well Hellboy 2 really fares. I'll let you know what I thought.

  3. FrankMillerisaFascistJuly 16, 2008 at 11:57 AM

    Check out the comics. They have folklore and mythology galore. Not the best structured writing, but some really good stories at their core, and the art? Dizzam! I'm going to check out the movie purely for the enoyment of watching Hellboy kick some ass on the bigscreen. Booyah!

  4. This movie ruined my date. Damn this movie!


What's your beef, sports fan?