Monday, July 14, 2008

Review: Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Written by: Guillermo del Toro (screenplay) and Mike Mignola (Story)
Genre: Action / Adventure / Fantasy
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and some language.
Released: 11 July 2008 (USA)
Starring: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Seth MacFarlane, Luke Goss, Anna Walton, Jeffrey Tambor, John Hurt.

Plot: The mythical world starts a rebellion against humanity in order to rule the Earth, so Hellboy and his team must save the world from the rebellious creatures.

Review: 9/10

My Thoughts: “And I looked down into the end of the world and saw the beast, and in his right hand was the key to the bottomless pit”

"Behold the right hand of doom."

Born from evil, son of the fallen angel, and demon Prince of Sheol, the demon whose true name is Anung un Rama was brought into this world as a weapon for the Nazis in the final days of World War II, he is the barer of the right hand of doom and destined to bring about The Ogdru Jahad (The Seven Gods of Chaos) and end mankind’s rain over earth, however with fate on the side of light, he ended up in the hands of good, and they called him, HellBoy, and he became humanity’s last hope. I can tell you that the majority would agree that this is not the usual makings of a superhero, nor is it one good would normally arise from, however writer-artist Mike Mignola proved the majority wrong when he created HellBoy in 1993, unlike you’re average superhero, Hellboy isn’t particularly liked by the people due to his nature and of course his appearance (Devil look) and the name doesn’t help him either, so because of this he must remain hiding at all time while still risking his life for people who would not accept him as one of their own, despite he proves to show more compassion and human like qualities within him then most humans, band together with fellow companions at the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD), he becomes one of the most unlikely hero’s this world has ever seen, and I guess you could say I admire HellBoy, mostly because to people he is thought as something evil and must be destroyed, sure he’s made from pure evil and supposedly going to bring about the end of the world, and yet; he’s doing the exact opposite to what those pre-predicted of him, it tells you that our destiny is not pre-chosen for us but yet to be written, and not to judge a book by its cover.

So with the help of director Guillermo del Toro, and actor Ron Perlman in the starring seat, Mike Mignola’s dream became a reality in 2004 when HellBoy was adapted onto the big screen, however despite the film getting positive reviews by films critics it only did moderate at the box-office pulling just under its production budget, and broke even with DVD sales, this was bad news for those who wanted to see a sequel made, and at first the possibility of a sequel ever coming seemed unsure and more and more highly unlikely. That is until Revolution Studios sold the rights to Universal Pictures who saw a sequel to be more profitable then Revolution Studios thought after the results of the first film, and after a long four year wait we are finally reworded with Hellboy II: The Golden Army a sequel that has been one year too many overdue. Unlike the first film, our devilish hero has gone public and is no longer needing of the nanny squad fallowing him around; also this time around HellBoy faces new villains as well as many new challenges await, from battling a long forgotten kingdom to his relationship problems with his girlfriend Liz.

I was greatly impressed with the plot of this film; for one thing it’s not based off any of Mike Mignola’s comics, unlike the first film which was based off two graphic novels by Mignola, this one was written by both Guillermo del Toro and Mike Mignola as a new story written for the film, introducing both new and old characters into the mix, one most notable is Johann Krauss, one of the BPRD best agents, I’ve been a fan of this particular character since the comics, and now even more so in the film, the all new villains were fantastic, I must say a part of me was sadden by the fact that there were no Nazis in the mix this time around, people who aren’t fans of the comic books won’t understand that Nazis have always played a hug role in the overall plot in HellBoy comics, and to be honest one cannot deny the fact that they make the best of villains this earth as ever seen, who here can tell me of a more notable adversary then that of Nazis, but despite the fact they are absent in this film, doesn’t show as a sign of weakness, in fact it gives the film strength, because it shows we can have a good film without the typical and predictable stuff, also this time around the film doesn’t play out as a horror like its predecessor, it’s more like a action/fantasy with a lovely touch of comedy, in other words it’s a monster mash! [Laughs]

And besides the larger than life villains our red skinned hero faces, he must also face his own demons within, as the result to going public causes him to be subjected to racism, yep, that’s right, racism from the human race, as many humans have shown fear and anger towards him, and he is forced to look within himself and ask why? Why continue to save humanity when he will never be reworded with acceptance nor will his companions. It’s a much different story told then the one before hand, and on a more epic scale which proves to be stronger than ever possible, but I guess that comes with the territory of being a sequel, as I have found that in all films like this the first sequel always proves to be the best out of the series. Also the film gives a hint to what a possible second sequel will be about if another is made of course. And on another good note to the film is both Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien have much bigger parts this time around, Abe more so then anything, which was good because he was given too small of a role last time which was a downer for me a bit.

The film also has a bit of plot twists and turns that will keep you satisfied the whole way, and of course in the same tradition of the first film, this one gives a little more insight on HellBoy and Professor Broom, and their father son relationship by showing a flashback showing a young HellBoy and a less older Professor Broom on Christmas eve 1955, which a lovely look back at Professor Broom, and how his unconditional love as an adopted father made HellBoy the man he is today, and not the beast we thought him to be, you could say HellBoy has always resembled a Beauty and The Beast type of story if you’d call it that, beauty on the inside, and all beast on the outside. I must not forget how action packed it is, this film is filled with twice the action and twice the thrills than ever before, not to mention the action packed climax ending battle that left me in awe. Also the cinematography was fantastic, much better this time around, and the Special effect which was outstanding, I like the idea that director Guillermo del Toro is still using traditional style of Make-Up and Costumes and sets, something most directors now days will just cheat and blast their films with so much CGI it could make you sick to your stomach, but not Guillermo del Toro, he uses only the right amount of CGI that’s needed and nothing more, something I can’t help about admire about him as a filmmaker.

The story is about: after an ancient truce existing between humankind and the invisible realm of the fantastic is broken, hell on Earth is ready to erupt. A ruthless leader who treads the world above and the one below defies his bloodline and awakens an unstoppable army of creatures. Now, it's up to the planet's toughest, roughest superhero to battle the merciless dictator and his marauders. He may be red. He may be horned. He may be misunderstood. But when you need the job done right, it's time to call in Hellboy.

As for the acting; Ron Perlman does it ye again with another outstanding performance as HellBoy, let me tell you, he was born for this role, not only does he look and sound the part, but he is the part, it’s almost as if Mike Mignola created the character specifically for him, I mean I for one was blown away by the breath taking job he did for the role for the second time. Selma Blair lights up the screen on fire with her great performance as hotty Liz Sherman, I’ve said it once in my review for the first HellBoy film and I’ll say it again, she doesn’t look at all a bit like her character looks like in the comic, however where she lacks in appearance, she makes back in ace style acting that I believe no other actress in Hollywood can duplicate in this role, so I’ll let her go on the not looking the part, part, but I will say she does in fact give her own brand of sexy to the film that is just wow! Doug Jones was magnificent, much in the same respect of Perlman being HellBoy; Jones is Abe Sapien in every way you can think.

Seth MacFarlane was awesome as Johann Krauss, I must admit though, I didn’t think he’d be right for the role at first, because what his normal work is (Family Guy cartoon) which I have nothing wrong with, I love watching the show, but I felt he wouldn’t do the role justice, but that was until I finally saw what he was capable of doing for the character, then I was wowed to near death of enjoyment. Luke Goss was fantastic as Prince Nuada, he gave the character this sophisticated form of evilness that was so delightful that it was barbaric meets class. Anna Walton did a wonderful job as Princess Nuala, spot on I must say. Jeffrey Tambor was also great, his portrayal as Tom Manning was on target, and even better then he was in the last film, he bring that certain charm to the character that makes you enjoy hating him for it. I was delighted to see John Hurt reprising his role as Trevor Bruttenholm (Professor Broom) in the beginning of the film; he’s one of the best actors in Hollywood, and much like a fine wine only seems to get better with age.

Final Say: I really had a blast watching HellBoy 2, more so then the first one, I look forward to seeing it again when it comes out on DVD, and I highly saddest seeing it while it’s in theaters, however I will say it’s not for everyone, as it is a love it or hate it type of film, as where in my case it was a love it type of film. I highly recommend it.

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