So yesterday, the husband and I went to see “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” which I’ve decided to retitle, “Holy Cow, Hellboy’s Starring in 'Pan’s Labyrinth II: New and Improved with Kittens!'” Sure, that title’s going to make the marketing a bit difficult what with squeezing so many words onto the poster and all, but I feel it’s a fairly accurate representation of the film.
There is some gorgeous imagery in “Hellboy II,” which is something you’d expect from a Guillermo del Toro film. The mythical environs and creatures he creates are stunning and unforgettable, but as my husband said so succinctly, “When’s that dude going to make some new monsters?” When you’ve seen one baddie with eyes stuck to weird portions of its anatomy, you’ve seen them all.
Not that I mind directors incorporating their trademark look into a film. Barry Sonnenfeld does it and Tim Burton certainly does it. With Burton’s films, however, the imagery and story nearly always mesh. With “Hellboy,” it was as if two layers of two different films were laid on top of one another and run together. It seems disjointed and detracts, in a way, from the story it’s trying to tell.
And what is that story exactly? Hellboy and his girlfriend Liz are going through some relationship problems. Their pal Abe Sapien falls in love with a nymph-like creature whose brother is bent on finding the pieces to a crown that will enable him to resurrect the indestructable Golden Army and destroy humankind once and for all. Oh and Jeffrey Tambor cracks a lot of jokes, which is always a welcome thing.
The deeper storyline revolves around whether or not humankind deserves to be the guardians of this world when we can’t appreciate the beauty and truth that is around us. We trample nature and put creatures we don’t understand away in dark places. When Hellboy is asked to choose between destroying a magical minion of the bad guy or saving the humans – all of whom are pretty ungrateful – he has a bit of an existential crisis and with good reason. It’s hard to help people who hate you for how you look. Which is why I never help cheerleaders when they fell down.
The best part of any Hellboy movie is the out-of-leftfield jokes and wonderful visual humor that make you stop, laugh and go, “Did I just hear that right?” And Ron Perlman as Hellboy makes those jokes ten times more endearing, playing the crime-fighting demon as a spoiled man-child who just wants attention and never quite knows how to ask for it in the right way. Despite acting under pounds of latex, Perlman manages to make his character a fine romantic hero and you can understand what Hellboy’s flame-throwing girlfriend Liz sees in him.
The rest of the Hellboy cast is endearing, too. Selma Blair plays Liz with a world-weary detachment, a coolness that balances nicely with her characters ability to, you know, set things on fire. (Raise your hand if you want to see a flame-off between Blair’s Liz and Drew Barrymore in “Firestarter.” Imagine the S’mores!) Doug Jones gives a nice performance as Abe Sapian, although I’ll admit to missing David Hyde Pierce from the original film. And holy cow, Seth McFarlane is about as far away from “Family Guy” as can be with his voicing of Johann Krauss, the disembodied spirit that comes in to lead Hellboy and his crew.
All in all, “Hellboy II” was a lot of fun. Pretty to look at, lots of laughs, some great action scenes and a couple sniffle-worthy sad bits. I’m just not sure it’s something I’d want to see again.
Which leads me to believe I’ve also just described a date with a Kardeshian....