Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hellboy II: The Golden Army [2008]

It’s become the standard lately that part 2 of a superhero franchise is outstanding. Spider-Man 2 struck the right balance between action and the love story – X-Men 2 had an intelligent plot and the right amount of character development wrapped up in plenty of action – The Dark Knight changed the Batman and Joker from caricatures on the big screen into realistic people inhabiting their own world – so now it’s Hellboy’s turn.

The story revolves around an Elf prince who’s angered by having to live in the shadows and decides to awaken the mythical Golden Army and declare war on mankind. The only problem becomes he has to reunite the crown that controls the army – thus destroying his own family in order to do so. Meanwhile Hellboy is struggling to become popular with the masses, is dealing problems with a new handler and his girlfriend - as well as kind of looking after the Elf princess.

This movie never connects. Hellboy spends the entire film whining about his personal life - he does not seem concerned at all about the actual plot. There’s no real stakes for him either – and if the main character doesn’t care – why should we as an audience care? It seems like Hellboy has to be dragged through the movie in order to get him involved. When Hellboy was actually doing something - the action was fairly predictable – the only thing this film had going for it was the visuals – and in my opinion visuals do not make a movie.

This has become a big problem with movie reviews, the internet and fandom; Guillermo del Toro – who writes and directs this film – is involved so it’s okay if there’s no plot or interesting aspects to the film – as long as there’s spectacular visuals and creatures - it’s considered “great” because del Toro. Almost all the reviews that I’ve glanced at to prepare my own review - talk about del Toro and his visual style – they mention nothing having to do with the flat dull plot or the romantic comedy sensibilities. If ANYBODY else came in and wrote and directed this exact film – I guarantee that it wouldn’t be holding an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes (same rating as X2) - you’d hear everybody complaining about so-n-so “ruined” Hellboy and questioning why Hellboy was trapped in a romantic comedy.

You add the Guillermo del Toro fandom in with the Family Guy fandom – and you’ve got a film where you’ve got so many rabid fans that it’s impossible to get real answers about the quality of the film. I say this because Hellboy’s new handler is voiced by Seth MacFarlane – and since he’s only got the 3-voices he can do – he busts out the Stewie Griffin one for this film. I’m not a fan of Family Guy – but I’m not so blind that if Seth MacFarlane was in this film and did a great job I wouldn’t have complemented him – but it’s the Stewie voice! Didn’t somebody hear that and think – that’s too recognizable – we should go another direction in order to have a little bit of validity to the character – and not just have everyone thinking “what the deuce”?

They try to make it a character study on Hellboy and his anger issues and hair-triggered nature at certain points in the film – which would’ve made the film interesting. So, someone barely insults him and he punches them in the face with is whammer – but the bad guy stands right in front of him with some unknown mystical weapon - Hellboy doesn’t shoot him? They also try to play up the idea that Hellboy is not a human – so why does he care about being liked by humans – but this plot point stops almost as soon as it starts.

I’ll spare you my anger over the 30-minute interlude in the middle of the film where everyone kind of hangs around – not involved in the plot – singing Barry Manilow and drinking beer. Or my frustration regarding the plot hole where the Prince knows everything the Princess knows because they are magical twins – but the Princess can hide something from the Prince – and he knows essentially where it’s hidden – but doesn’t continue his search demanding the good guys bring it to him even though he’s 6-inches away from it. Or even the annoying cheap pregnancy sub-plot that played out almost exactly the same way other things played out in the first film. Or the fact they were obviously trying to start catch-phrases. Or the fact that they used some cheap storybook way of telling you what the conflict was about – instead of having an actual - interesting and action packed investigation to fill in that 30-minute gap in the middle of the film where they sing Barry Manilow!

I’m ranting now. Overall – I’m glad I rented this film – if I would’ve bought the Blu-Ray like I was considering to give my HD set-up a true test – I would’ve been pissed. Or if I went and saw this in the theater – I would’ve felt obligated to not walk out on it – or able to pause it to check my e-mail.

I’m giving this a 1 out of 5 – because it was bad – I felt insulted watching it.


  1. Wow...I really dug this one, so I'm kinda surprised that you really hated it.

  2. Sorry, Hats - I really really wanted to like it - and I watched the first one right before it - and thought "this'll be a knock out" with all the talent involved - but like I said - it didn't connect for me. I'm glad you enjoyed it though!

  3. So the theme about Red struggling with the fact that he seems to be on the wrong side of the fight didn't do anything for you?

  4. I would've liked to see more of that theme - but I felt like it wasn't pronounced enough amongst the rest of the nonsense to sway me.