I didn't expect to see Hellboy II in the movie theatre because no one I know is as into comic book movies as much as I am. I can (and will) drag my husband to see movies like The Dark Knight but I can't seem to get him into the spirit of Hellboy.
But as I was watching the original Hellboy the other day I realized I needed to see Hellboy II on the big screen because you need a venue that large to appreciate the work of director Guillermo del Toro-- anyone who has seen Pan's Labyrinth will know exactly what I am talking about. So I did something I never do-- I went to the movie by myself.
Was it worth it? I'd say definitely.
Hellboy (Ron Perlman) is a creation of Dark Horse comics writer Mike Mignola. He is a demon who fights for the U.S. government (The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense or BERD) to protect America from any kind of supernatural danger. Hellboy was discovered as a child after he was brought through a dimensional portal and raised by an adopted father, Professor Bruttenholm (John Hurt). Hellboy longs to fit in, and tries to hide the fact with a gruff nature, but with his bright red skin, horns and tail, he is forever an outsider-- despite filing down his horns to look more human.
In this second installment (in what I hope is a continuing series) Hellboy is confronted with an enemy who is also an outcast. Prince Nuada (Luke Goss), the Elf Prince of the Underworld, seeks to raise The Golden Army and destroy the human race for what he believes is a broken truce between races. There are several moments between Nuada and Hellboy in which you can almost sense an understanding between the two-- they both know what it is like to be different and alone-- and Nuada is a great cinematic villain in my opinion. The fight scenes are also as beautiful as they are deadly and Goss performs them exceptionally well.
Hellboy II brings back most of the characters we saw in the first movie: Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) as Hellboy's pyrokinetic girlfriend; Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) an aquatic empath who also works for BERD; and Tom Manning (Jeffrey Tambor) as Hellboy's obnoxious and officious boss. Hellboy and Liz's relationship is expanded upon, though not dwelled upon too much in this movie. Abe gets his own love interest this time out and Manning is still trying to get Hellboy to behave--with no luck. All of the film's humor comes from this core cast-- with the addition of Johann Krauss (Seth MacFarlane), a German psychic brought in to try to help control Hellboy. I had several laugh-out-loud moments when the movie focused on this group.
But like any Guillermo del Toro film, the real star of the movie is the visual effects. They are, in a word, stunning. Like the original Star Wars films, del Toro features a lot of unusual creatures; from trolls, goblins, some pretty crazy tooth fairies to the Angel of Death. What I appreciated was that every creature was given amazing detail. If you saw the original Hellboy, you'll know from just seeing the characters of Hellboy and Abe the quality to expect from a del Toro creation. Multiply that by 10 (at least) and you'll have an idea of what to expect here.
As I was watching the movie I couldn't help but think that this was what George Lucas was trying to achieve with his final Star Wars trilogy. Hellboy II has all the special effects you could want from a sci-fi film but still manages to keep its heart. I have read some criticism that Hellboy II doesn't have as much character development as it should but I don't think I agree with that. It is a comic book movie and as such the comic book aspects have to be emphasized, but I don't think the characters suffered for it. I think del Toro did a fine job of weaving the plot among the action and the special effects.
At the end of the day though, I suppose you have to love comic book movies to love Hellboy as much as I do -- I am something of a fangirl in this regard. This movie hit all the right notes with me. It has humor, action and outstanding visuals. I would definitely say this was worth the price of admission.