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"Hellboy II: The Golden Army"

Directed by Guillermo del Toro.
Written by Guillermo del Toro and Mike Mignola.  Based on the comic book by Mike Mignola.
Starring Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Evans and Luke Goss.
Release Year:  2008
Review Date:  7/16/08


Let's be clear--I thought the first "Hellboy" was a dog, and when I saw the trailer for the sequel, "Hellboy II: The Golden Army", I thought what most Americans were thinking:

Whose idea was it to make another shitty special-effects laden action film based on a film nobody saw?

I went back to check, and the first film banked $60 million...definitely not "gotta make the sequel" territory.  But, based on the strength of Guillermo del Toro's run the last couple years in direction and production--most notably, with "Pan's Labyrinth"--the studio types gave Hellboy one more run, and surprisingly, this sequel tops the original in nearly every category.

Something tells me that the combination of "Hellboy" comic creator Mike Mignola co-writing the script (he didn't help write the first film) and the studio allowing del Toro more creative visuals is where the evidence lies in explaining the strength of this film.  Hellboy (Ron Perlman, now a mere 58 years old in real life) is still dating his girl and paranormal cop partner Liz (Selma Blair) when trouble strikes Manhattan--a long-exiled mutant prince living below town named Nuada (Luke Goss, who worked with del Toro and Perlman in "Blade II") decides to wake up and wage war with the humans, but he needs parts of a mystical crown in order to command this nearly-5,000-robot army called The Golden Army...which, strangely, is housed in a cave in Ireland.  (Stick with me, here.)  So, Hellboy and Co. try to find this prince and capture the three parts of the crown before the prince does...many people die in the process.

The plot, to me as with all summer films, is secondary here; what's good is the mix of action, laughs, very cool mutant creations, Seth MacFarlane doing the voice of German robot Johann Krauss, and a Barry Manilow duet late in the film.  (Yep, I just said that.)  Watching this sequel, I almost want to go back and watch the first film again, because I thought the original was awful and so did many, many other people!  The film never gets too bogged down with sap, backstory or unnecessary angle; much like "The Incredible Hulk", "Hellboy II" has a great pace.  Jeffrey Tambor is wasted as the good guy chief, and the film does rely a bit too much on speeding up action shots to make Perlman look like a man half his age.  But, the effects work and the mutant creations alone make this film worth a look, and this is my early front-runner for both Best Special Effects and Best Makeup...

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09