Reviewed by: Michael Karounos
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (2008)
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|Director||Guillermo del Toro—“Pan's Labyrinth,” “Hellboy,” “Mimic”|
|Producer||Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Mike Mignola, Mike Richardson, Joe Roth, Chris Symes|
“Believe it or not, he’s the good guy.”
• “Hellboy” (2004)
• “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (2008)
• “Hellboy” (2019)
“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.
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