Sunday, August 2, 2015

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) Review:

For Ron Perlman, an actor with more than 200 credits to his filmography, there is only one series he has clearly stated again and again that he cares about most. That role belongs to the character of Hellboy. Although the iconic character was not made by him, Perlman himself made the character his own. That and with the help of several other crewmembers, Hellboy (2004) was a hit among moviegoers. After that in between that time and the sequel, two animated films were produced. Both of which ran along the same lines in entertainment. They weren’t high-grade animation but still managed to pull off being brainless fun like they were extended TV show episodes. As to where it was aimed for demographically, it seemed as if the producers weren't sure. However with the official sequel, the better qualities return and prove that the franchise of Hellboy should stick with the live-action versions over animated until the producers can figure out whom it's meant for.

Johann Krauss
Directed again by creature designer Guillermo del Toro, this sequel has lots to offer. Initially starting out before the events of Hellboy (2004), fans see a young Hellboy being told a bedtime story by Professor Broom (John Hurt - more as a cameo) that gives us the premise of the film. A long time ago, humans made a treaty with another humanoid race in order to keep peace. However, a prince known as Prince Nuada (Luke Gross) seeks to take over the planet with a crown that controls an ancient Golden Army. In order to command this force, he needs to have the three pieces of the crown put back together. Everything from down to its characterizations and development to the acting is top notch. Ron Perlman as Hellboy will always be the right choice. His wisecracks and personality are the same as before. Selma Blair as Liz Sherman hasn't changed either. The role of Liz changes for the better as well, which helps Hellboy develop in return.

Doug Jones as Abe Sapien maintains his character personality as well and develops more in depth feelings too. Also like the animated films, Abe was also voiced by Jones and not David Hyde Pierce. It is strange though that in the animated films Jones didn't sound as good as Pierce, yet in this film Jones sounds more identical to Pierce's voice. No matter the voice, Jones still is Abe. Jeffrey Tambor as nonstop complaining Tom Manning returns but has a more limited role with the introduction of a new supporting character Johann Krauss voiced by comedic talent Seth MacFarlane. The character of Johann Krauss is an ectoplasmic being who contains himself inside an airtight mechanical suit and has special abilities that make him quite useful in problem solving and battling. He too also has a character arc. Also once the viewer knows Krauss' voice belongs to MacFarlane, it'll be difficult to imagine anyone else voicing him. Luke Gross as Prince Nuada and his sister Princess Nuala (Anna Walton) are interesting to watch as well. Luke Gross plays a memorable villain and Anna Walton's role is important too in plot and character development.

The only flaw in the writing that doesn't make sense is some of its continuity and it accounts for a very small amount. A lot of the continuity is on point, for example there's a brief explanation to what happened to Agent John Myers (Rupert Evans) from Hellboy (2004). As to why other sequels can't throw in small explanations like these to missing characters is beyond me. This kind of solution is the simplest of things to fix and several sequels to other franchises don't do this. However, the one piece of continuity that doesn't make sense is Abe Sapien's ability to be out of his water tank without his breathing apparatus. At first, it seemed like that was his only way of being out of his tank (like a fish). Then, somewhere at the quarter mark Abe no longer wears it. Okay, did he really need it to begin with? If not, it was kind of like excess weight for no reason. This however is the movie's smallest issue. The action is given a helpful boost in energy and creativeness. There's sword/fist fights that are fast paced, deadly and are fun to watch.

Prince Nuada & Princess Nuala
Plus with this being a Guillermo del Toro fantasy film, the special effects and creature designs look great. The Golden Army are intriguing to see in their mechanical forms along with other creatures like the Angel of Death, Wink and the Tooth Fairy (not what you think it is). The cinematography carried out by long time del Toro collaborator Guillermo Navarro looks great as well. There aren't many wide spanning landscape shots but for what there is, it looks beautiful. For one thing, the camera is always steadily moving to try and give the viewers a better idea of theirs’ and the characters' surroundings. As for music, the score changed from composers from Marco Beltrami to Danny Elfman. Unfortunately with this transition, the main theme for Hellboy itself was lost. As to why Elfman couldn’t recycle the theme I don’t know. However, it wasn't a total loss. For one, Elfman creates themes for the Golden Army itself and for the love themes between characters. For the love themes, they are actually reminiscent to that of Elfman's early work dealing with this set of emotions. It's beautiful and euphoric.

Aside from one very minor continuity error, everything else to this sequel is crafted expertly. The old and new characters continue to develop, along with fun action sequences, polished special effects, great looking camerawork and music that has memorable themes.

Points Earned --> 8:10

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