Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Hellboy II: The Golden Army review

There are a lot of things to really love about Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The film has deep and resonant character developments giving much more insights into the players than the last film. It also looks like a dream in autumnal shades of gold and sepia, with lighting that manages to both hide and reveal character reflective of the story and tone of the moment. And maybe most significantly, the characters, the costumes, the creatures look utterly believable and out of this world. They slide effortlessly into the world of Hellboy, suiting the magical underbelly of a world that exists right below our unsuspecting noses. Far more impressive than the first solid Hellboy film this movie sees legitimate growth in almost every way. But all that said there is something about the movie that just never grabbed me in the way the first film did. I respect this film a lot, I think it may actually even be a better movie than the original, but I can't say I loved it as much.

Despite the fantastic set design, and creature work something about the main plot just never quite did it for me. The story is about a (what is he an elf?) prince who is trying to reclaim the former glory of his family throne. To do this he intends to gather the pieces of a fragmented royal crown thereby breaking the covenant of peace made between his people an mankind, and use the power to awaken the Golden Army, who for all intents and purposes are giant possessed robots. This is all set against the character backdrop of Hellboy and Liz Sherman sorting through their troubled relationship, and Abe Sapian finding a true love for the first time in his life. It's a story with beasties galore, and huge fight scenes, and spectacular stunts, and creepy crawlies, and intense drama, true love, heartbreak, singing, and kitty cats... A film that really has it all.

But something still didn't grab me. As I said, I think it may have something to do with the plotting. Maybe it was the fact that I didn't feel invested in this disposed royal family of elves, maybe I didn't believe the love story with Abe. The plotting just didn't hold my attention, which is odd, considering I did enjoy many of the character moments, and overall found the personal arcs to be satisfying. Something... maybe just that intangible magic was lost on me though.

I still enjoyed this film, and think that perhaps on repeat viewings I would appreciate it even more. It's worth watching, at least on dvd. Hellboy II has a lot to offer despite my unspecific misgivings. My hope is that a third and even better film will be made based on the success of this film.

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