Hellboy II: The Golden Army Review
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Thanks to movies like the first Hellboy and the award-winning creep-show, Pan’s Labyrinth, writer/director Guillermo del Toro has made quite a name for himself. When you think Guillermo del Toro, you think dark and creepy, with all kinds of wildly imaginative creatures. And his latest, Hellboy II: The Golden Army is no different.

Things have been a bit shaky lately at the BPRD—the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. Though the Bureau’s supposed to be a secret, Hellboy (Ron Perlman) loves the spotlight a little too much. People are starting to ask questions—and they’re not exactly thrilled that a big, red, demon-like creature is roaming the streets. So the Bureau brings in a new leader, ectoplasmic expert Johann Krauss (voiced by Seth MacFarlane), to keep him under control.

Krauss arrives just in time. The Bureau has discovered that Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) has decided to break the truce that his father, the king of an invisible world of fantastical creatures, made with humankind long ago. The prince wants to return their kingdom to its old glory—and, to do so, he plans to awaken the indestructible Golden Army to wage war on the human world. But Hellboy and his colleagues at the Bureau are determined to find Prince Nauda and stop him—before it’s too late.

When it comes to dark and creepy creatures, Hellboy II is right up there with Pan’s Labyrinth. There are trolls and fairies and all kinds of big, scary creatures that you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. And that’s what makes Hellboy II pretty cool—because visually, it’s remarkable.

The problem, however, is that del Toro runs into the same roadblock here as he did with Pan’s: the story. In the beginning, there’s so much going on (and there are so many confusing holes) that most of it will fly right over your head. Then, from there on out, it just falls flat. Hellboy’s quest to stop Nuada from awakening the Golden Army really doesn’t require a lot of story—or a lot of action, either. So del Toro throws in random sub-plots: Hellboy tries to figure out his rocky relationship with girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair) while fellow Bureau member Abe (Doug Jones) falls for Nauda’s twin sister, Nuala (Anna Walton). Though the romantic touches do make for some entertaining moments (especially when the two start drinking and commiserating), the story is a bit heavy on the sappy romantic stuff, which only slows down the action. And if a chick says you’ve got too much sappy stuff in your movie, you’ve got yourself a serious problem.

Though Hellboy II is filled with fantastically creepy creatures and stunning effects, del Toro once again falls short in the story department. The characters are interesting, and the story could have been action-packed—but, instead, it’s heavy on filler and light on action. Unless cool-looking creatures alone can hold your attention for two hours, you might find yourself losing interest long before it’s over.

DVD Review:
The most remarkable element of Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy II is definitely its creatures—those creepy monsters that seem to have jumped right out of your worst childhood nightmares. So fans of del Toro’s work will be thrilled to find that the creatures are the focus of most of the features on the film’s three-disc special edition DVD release.

In addition to the usual extras—the commentaries, deleted scenes, and a plethora of galleries—this set offers a number of features that give you a close, personal look at the inner workings of del Toro’s twisted imagination. No, you don’t get a full psychological report, but you do get sketches and notes and lots and lots of commentaries. The Pan’s Labyrinth director clearly loves to talk about his work, too—because features like the production workshop (which shows storyboards for the creepy puppet sequence), the pre-production vault (which shows actual pages from del Toro’s notebook), and the galleries all include introductions and explanations by the director himself. But if you want an even closer look behind the scenes, there’s also a feature-length (155-minute) making-of feature, called Hellboy: In Service of the Demon. This in-depth extra gives you a front-row seat for meetings, rehearsals, filming, and much, much more.

Hellboy fans won’t want to miss this comprehensive collection of special features. In fact, even if you weren’t blown away by the movie, you’ll still be fascinated by the features.

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