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Movie Review

Hellboy II: The Golden Army a.k.a. “Hellboy 2,” “Hellboy 2—Die goldene Armee,” “Hellboy 2—O Exército Dourado”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and some language.

Reviewed by: Michael Karounos
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Primary Audience:
Adults, Teens
Genre:
Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Sequel
Length:
1 hr. 50 min.
Year of Release:
2008
USA Release:
July 11, 2008
Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

Justice in the Bible

Films in this series

Hellboy” (2004)

Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (2008)

Featuring: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Jeffrey Tambor, Luke Goss, Anna Walton, John Hurt, John Alexander, James Dodd, Roy Dotrice, Ferenc Elek, Colin Ford, Brian Herring, Iván Kamarás, Seth MacFarlane, Szonja Oroszlán, Oliver Simor, Brian Steele, Jamie Wilson
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Pan's Labyrinth,” “Hellboy,” “Mimic
Producer: Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Mike Mignola, Mike Richardson, Joe Roth, Chris Symes
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“Believe it or not, he’s the good guy.”

“Hellboy II: The Golden Army” is a strange amalgam of humor, pathos, and violence which gives the movie its PG-13 rating. Although the violence is not grisly, it is graphic and, in accordance with the rating, children under 13 should not see it unless they are accustomed to watching violent programs.

The premise of the movie is that the barrier between the human and the mythic races of elves, trolls, and goblins has been broken by a rogue elf, Prince Nadua (Luke Goss) who seeks to conquer the humans for their ancient offenses. An animated sequence at the beginning of the film explains how the animosity between the humans and the other races was resolved by a goblin invention: the Golden Army of robots.

Prince Nadua enters the human world looking for the three pieces of the crown that controls the Golden Army and creates havoc in the process. Hellboy, his wife Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), Abe Sapien (Doug Jones), and a new ectoplasmic agent, Johan Krauss (Seth MacFarlane), are sent to stop Nadua.

There isn’t much to the plot. The movie is carried by the charismatic Ron Pearlman as Hellboy whose gravelly voice, love of good cigars, cats, and Mexican beer, make him a charming character—a red Hulk but with personality. Pearlman is great in the role: his droll delivery, comedic timing, and ironic expressions are far superior to all of the other superhero performances, and I include Robert Downey Jr.’s as Iron Man. The difference is that Ron Pearlman is a man, whereas Toby Maguire, Robert Downey Jr., Edward Norton, and Brandon Routh (as Superman) come across as puffed up metrosexuals.

The movie also features Guillermo del Toro’s send up of various movie archetypes. In the Narnia movies, particularly the last one, it is the humans who are the evil army and the odd assortment of mythical creatures which constitute the good one. In the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, elves are good, while trolls, orcs, and goblins are bad. Similary, in the Star Wars movies, especially in the parliament scene, a multi-cultural mélange of strange creatures stands in stark contrast to the pastey white face of the emperor and his white-armored soldiers.

Hellboy’s human helpers are all white and dress in identical black suits. In these politically correct times it is so noticeable that there is not a woman or black or Asian man among them that one can only conclude that del Toro, for reasons of his own, purposely left them out. Del Toro also makes the mythical creatures wicked, which runs counter to the trend in Hollywood movies. Pearlman’s Hellboy is a beer-swilling but empathetic superhero who makes Will Smith’s Hancock seem cartoonish by comparison.

Pearlman’s is a three-dimensional character motivated by his love for his wife and his desire to protect helpless creatures like kittens and babies. He is loving to his friends, ruthless to his enemies, and is willing to sacrifice himself with a quip. In other words, he is a hero who is not neurotic or conflicted about his identity.

Interestingly, the symbol of the cross reappears numerous times in the movie. Both Hellboy and Liz wear a cross and at one point Hellboy tries to heal a creature with something of St. Malachi’s. The politics of the movie, if they can be identified at all, tend toward the conservative preservation of society from an external threat. The movie is pro-gun and pro-babies (a twist). The weapons of mass destruction (the Golden Army) are neutralized, and the ancient (“pre-Christian”) enemy of mankind, the elf Prince Nadua, is destroyed. All in all, it’s a good movie of its kind, and the drinking scene with Hellboy and the love-sick amphibian, Abe Sapien, is almost worth the price of admission all by itself.

In spite of the violence, the beer, and the spectacle of a devil as the protagonist, Hellboy promotes values of fidelity, friendship, sacrifice, and justice. It is refreshing to see a movie which doesn't undermine our country, its military, or its institutions. If you like the genre, you'll probably like “Hellboy II: The Golden Army.”

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


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Comments below:
Positive
Positive—No particular order… Action. Romance. Humor. Good tunes. Characters w/ personality. Fantasy. Adventure. A timely blend of costumes/prosthetics and CGI. II captures all the awe of the first Star Wars with just as much charisma but twice as many wild and wacky creatures. It's been 30+ years since Episode IV, and visual fx have come a long way. CGI is all the rave these days. Too many movies lose brownie points with me because they're clogged up with the computer's touch. Egad. Too much CGI is too much bad cholesterol for a movie's heart. Thankfully, Hellboy II doesn't inundate the audience with a deluge of CGI fx or creatures, but rather chooses its effects shots wisely and prefers a pile of latex for unusual bipeds. This is where a stark similarity lies. As in the aforementioned Lucas’ flick, II relies more on makeup to create bizarre persons. And speaking of persons, like A New Hope, II relies heavily on character development and chemistry. It doesn't clutter the screen with a deluge of important characters, but rather focuses on the relationships of a central few. II allows itself time to breathe. Everything is paced unto perfection. Nothing is spared in the attention to detail; the result is a breathtaking masterpiece worthy of several 2nd, 3rd, and 4th viewings.

So if I haven't sold you yet with my pitch, then I'll simply state “Hellboy II” is a must-see. No if's, and's, or but's. Must-see. You don't even have to recall the first movie, other than the simple fact there's a fish guy, an older fatherly figure, and Hellboy's spontaneous self-combusting girlfriend that gives new meaning to Incubus’ song “Pardon Me.” Heck, it's been a few years since I've seen the first go-round of the orange bearded demon-turned-good. The original is just kind of a blasé blip on the story that is my life. Beforehand, I didn't even stop to think for a second the sequel could be such a 720, but it surely is and more. I sat in utter disbelief, incredulous that such an amazing movie can still make it onto the big screen. Midway through, my recurring thought was “this movie kicks ***.” A movie with this much imagination and umph! doesn't make it in front of our pupils but once every blue moon. And oh how this is too creative for the average joe. This dude, the same guy behind “Pan's Labyrinth,” is indeed a visionary, as the tagline reads.

Tarry not! Get off thy couch and go! Hellboy II is One thumb and one SUPER SIZED THUMB UP.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jacob Keenum, age 22
Positive—This movie was fantastic! It surpassed the original in so many ways and definitely puts a name for itself amongst this summers line up as one of the best. Hellboy is back with his crew from the Paranormal Research Team and this time there are plenty of creepy crawlies that go bump in the night for them to deal with. Guillermo Del Toro has treated us with plenty of creatures both mystifying and terrifying. There are scenes where the characters embark into a troll market which would give anyone's fantasy imagination a run for their money. With plenty of laughs, (including a priceless sing along with Barry Manilow moment), fantasy action, new characters and old, this movie is a definite treat for all comic book fans, and the main stream audiences looking for a summer action blockbuster worth your buck. Every scene is packed with something new and with a flying time of only an hour and 50 min. you'll stumble out of the theater feeling dazed with the overload of the theatrics. If this is your cup of tea, by all means go watch it today!

Morale Rating: This is a comic fantasy action film that has creepy images and disturbing monsters which may scare young children. The action is pretty much PG-13 bloodless fights and some jokes may be too adult for children to understand.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Tim, age 23
Positive—I was enticed to see this movie because of the stunning visuals in the previews. I found it to be an interesting combination of elements from “Star Wars,” and “Lord of The Rings.” This film is based on the traditional story of good versus evil, although with a twist of irony. Hellboy is on a mission to save the humans from being devastated by Prince Nuada's army. There are several elements of displays of violence and a scene of drunkenness. On the positive side, there is a scene of understanding and forgiveness that I found to be a surprising addition to the film. While parents would do well to keep their younger and very impressionable children away from “Hellboy II,” parents of teens can use this film as an opportunity to explore the issues this film raises, such as God's grace, forgiveness and doing what is right, rather than what feels good at the moment.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Reneé Baron, age 42
Positive—whoo. I've been waiting for this movie to come out for years, and it was well worth the wait. Not only was this about 10 times better looking than the first one, but it had a fun story to match the incredible visuals. It was a blast, its a movie that doesn't take itself too seriously and obviously knew what its goals were before embarking on its theatrical debut. If you like super hero/adventure movies, go ahead, indulge.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Daniel Robison, age 20
Positive—Very similar to the first HellBoy movie… Like all sequels, all elements must be enhanced and made slightly larger. As such, the main character HellBoy uses his favorite exclamation phrase more often (Oh cr*p). There is also a more offensive swear word muttered under his breath—which my 4 year old cannot quite make out.

The action and special effects are even better than the first movie and nearing the quality of Lord of the Rings. The fight sequences are many, clear and truly believable.

HellBoy assumes more human qualities in this sequel and a variety of human issues are played out such as romantic relationships, fatherhood, social status, drinking and honor. This movie is essentially much like the first, if slightly “more” in every area.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Joel Weber, age 36
Positive—I think the reviewer missed the point of the movie. I hesitate to bring this up because I loved the movie, and I'm afraid that if the reviewer sees it the way I saw it, they would lower their rating of it. In the review, it is pointed out that the humans were the good innocent ones while the magical creatures were evil. I don't think that was the case at all. Aside from generic background monster (after all, who is Hellboy supposed to fight with?) Prince Nuada was the only evil magical creature, and only because of his methods. The message of the film is that his cause is just, but his methods are evil. Remember the giant plant monster? Even THAT wasn't evil. It portrayed almost as a victim, and when Hellboy killed it, he felt remorse.

The humans are portrayed as ignorant usurpers of the elves’ lands. Even the heroes of the movie abandon humanity in the end. The resulting message of the movie isn't that humans are good and creatures are bad or the other way around, the message is that as a whole, it's all neutral. Each person is an individual and chooses every minute of every day to be good or bad with each action.

Guillermo Del Toro is my favorite filmmaker of all time and that message is a signature of his. His heroes are never 100% good. They do things the audience wouldn't do themselves. And the villains are never 100% evil, the audience eventually may come around to see things their way even if they disagree with their actions. And that's the way a good story should be because that's the way life usually is. …
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Mike Smith, age 23 (USA)
Neutral

None

Negative
Negative—This movie was terrible. After 4 years, you would think that they would get a good movie. The first one was much better.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Liz, age 23
Negative—The issue that I have with this movie is that it is demonic and it seems that America is slowly being desensitized about satan. Films being made about how demons are cool and they are superheroes is ridiculous b/c there is nothing cool about demons and Hell is a real place. I believe as Christians we have to be aware of what movies were watching and letting our children watch.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Chad Webster, age 29
Negative—More violent than I expected and definitely not for children. I have a personal dislike for watching thousands of creepy crawlies devouring human beings live, and “Hellboy II” has an extended scene with just that. Otherwise, the story is average, and the visuals—at least on the big screen—are impressive. Hellboy himself has a sense of mild humour, though from a christian point of view one might question a protagonist who is the son of the fallen one. Can't recommend this film especially with better fare out there such as “The Incredible Hulk” and for mature teens and adults “The Dark Knight.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Todd Adams, age 41
Comments from young people
Positive—I had seen the first hellboy and thought it was a great sci fi movie. So I decided the golden army might be worth checking out. I was really impressed with this movie. I was most happy about the lack of language that Hellboy used. there was no dirty scenes in the movie which makes this a great movie to watch. The violence heavy but it is really great sci fi action that would make any guy sit on the edge of his seat. Overall, it is a fairly clean movie that I would recommend to almost anyone
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Kyle, age 16
Positive—I thoroughly enjoyed the first installment in the Hellboy series, and the second one was even better in every respect. Hellboy II featured outstanding special effects scattered through a well put-together plot. The story was coherent and compelling, and the characters were developed quite well. Although the violence was nearly constant and certainly graphic at times (take the PG-13 rating very seriously), the film proved that it could also be funny and almost touching. The best part of the movie was probably the encounter with the angel of death, were Del Toro's visual effects and his recurring theme of Christ-like sacrifice were especially highlighted. Del Toro definitely outdid himself in the imagination department, and I cannot wait for what looks like a mind-blowing third movie. I also thank the writer/director for keeping the language at a minimum and the sexual content at null. Hellboy II is one great ride!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—David Witwer, age 17
Positive—This was a great movie! Even better than the first! I love the idea of the son of the devil deciding to go against his father's ways and be a good guy. This film was hilarious and had excellent action scenes. It has about the same violence level as the first film. If you did enjoy the first one see the Golden Army!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Sam, age 13 (USA)