Review: Hellboy 2 - The Golden Army

The director is absolutely amazing. Guillermo Del Toro is one of the most imaginative and creative individuals around and he is a prime model of how a filmmaker should be. He is one that remembers his dreams or nightmares, be it at childhood or adulthood, and transfers them into his movies with creative relish. Every wonderment, horror, curiosity or pleasure is ripped from his subconscious and are revealed in celluloid form for all to savor. His past films such as ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ as director and ‘ El Orfanato’ or ‘The Orphanage’ as producer, both in Spanish, are prime examples of his artistic and inspired palette. Both great films that intertwines fantasy with reality aided by a touch of horror, these films are modern classics that I guarantee will not disappoint even the most stringent of viewers, that is if such flavor is ideal for your cinematic tastes. Even though Hellboy is not a brainchild of Del Toro (Mike Mignola will be given credit to that distinction), Del Toro manages to inject fantastic visual and artistic stimulus coupled with great humor that raised the world of Hellboy to a degree of wonderment not seen or felt in any medium before.

Visually throughout the film, Del Toro paints an unbelievably beautiful canvas of fairy tale creations that exists no where else but only in the mind of Del Toro. Hundreds of creatures, characters and settings fill the screen from inch to inch with wonderful creativity, and at moments when I was in the cinema I wished that I had a remote control to pause scene by beautiful scene and gasp in awe of these amazing creations. My most memorable and favorite creation in the film was this creature that had a cathedral for a head. That’s right. Who would have though of it? Another aspect that forged my respect towards him was his many uses of animatronics, and it shows in the film. I am hardly a great fan of CGI (seeing CGI characters fighting each other just turns me off), the usage of a new form of animatronics called ‘Spectral Motion’ was surprisingly good as it not only gave the characters fluidity but also a greater sense of personality with an added dimension of realism.

There was so much to admire. ‘The Golden Army’ for example was a jaw-dropping sight to behold, and being given the distinction of appearing in the title of the film, they did not disappoint. The Troll Market. What a memorable experience what had me holding my every inch of eye muscle to not blink and miss a second of what unfolded before my eyes. A parade of grotesque and unique characters littered the screen, and at this sequence of celluloid magic we, the audience, finally get to actually glimpse into the wonderful and yet perturbed mind of Del Toro. This sequence may yet be his single most creative masterpiece as he lets the film and story move on as per usual, however at every corner and backdrop of this sequence we can spot an assembly of creatures that is simply screaming for your attention. Del Toro created this sequence with absolute brilliance and skill.

But I guess now I should talk about the story. The usual suspects return to entertain us with their dark humor and atypical antics such as Ron Pearlman as Hellboy, Selma Blair as his love interest, and most interestingly Dough Jones as Abe Sapien. But this time around, Abe Sapien is much more evident and plays a more critical role in this sequel. He even gets to kick ass once in awhile, which was refreshing. Not only Dough Jones did a wonderful job in providing the body language and motions so distinctive for Abe Sapien, but he also voices Abe to perfection that gave us an interpretation of a character so wonderful and distinctive not seen since Andy Serkis portrayed Gollum in ‘The Lord of The Rings’. His character development is thorough and apparent, and to see him bonding with Hellboy is a joy. My favorite moment? Abe, Hellboy with Barry Manilow and many cans of beer. Watch it to believe it.

Oh, and the introduction of Dr. Johann Strauss to the character mix has a fresh and enjoyable kick too. If you are a fan of the Marvel comic book universe, you will notice a resemblance to the Mysterio character that gave Spider-Man a few good lessons in villainy. A harbinger of things to come? I am not sure but my finders are sure crossed with much anticipation and enthusiasm. Anyway, the good Doctor Johann Strauss is voiced by Seth McFarlane from “The Family Guy” fame, and is voiced deliciously with a staunchy german accent. This somewhat mysterious character that is noted for this efficiency is a fantastic addition to the ‘Paranormal Research and Defense’ team and I am definitely looking forward to seeing more from him in upcoming sequels (if there are any).

There is so much more to mention and yet, I will not, as all of it will be just words to many if it is not been admired or seen in the cinema hall. But one thing is definitely clear. There is no doubt in my mind that Guillermo Del Toro is one of the world’s few visionary directors in existence at the moment. His past works were marvels of fantasy brilliance, and from such successes we now have more greatness to look forward to as Del Toro is assigned to handle ‘The Hobbit’ films in the near future (as Peter Jackson did not involve himself due to personal clashes with the distributor). To be given such a wonderful task is a testament to his genius and talent as a creative filmmaker, and we, the audience of modern cinema should captivate every vision and every work from him with optimum fascination as only so few creators exists to amaze us to such a fantastic degree. May the mind of a strange and yet wonderful creator like Guillermo Del Toro live on for ages to come.

A wonderful film not for its big-bang action set pieces or for its grandeur such as ‘The Lord of The Rings’ as admittedly the action in ‘Hellboy 2’ is nothing new, but still it is a film to be admired for its ingenuity and also as a celebration for a film of wonderful creativity. In my opinion, this is the best film of the year so far (although with the impending arrival of ‘The Dark Knight’, things COULD change), but whichever turns out to be the better, ‘Hellboy 2’ is a film that is definitely not to be missed.

Verdict: 8 / 10

Reviewed by: Raymond Choy

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