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HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY begs any number of referential mash-ups to be used as description of its outlandish tonal and stylistic qualities. It's a little like a romantic and sophisticated live-action Ninja Turtles movie imbued with a cracked version of H.P. Lovecraft's monster storytelling. It's a feature-length version of STAR WARS's Mos Eisley Cantina mixed with a scrappy, proficient passion for creature design reminiscent of Ray Harryhausen. It's also kind of director/co-writer Guillermo del Toro's HELLBOY (2004) wrapped in a blanket of his PAN'S LABYRINTH. This sequel is all these things, but none of them can accurately capture the singularity of a movie which, in some ways, stands alone in its ability to capture the crass and literary luridness of reading a comic book. It's filled with gross creatures bursting with humanity, dark poetry, and slapstick comedy; in one scene, an argument between Hellboy and Johann Krauss, a formless gas contained in a mobilized suit, escalates to the point of Tom-&-Jerry-like violence.
As Hellboy himself, a heartfelt anti-hero who regularly eliminates supernatural threat as an agent for the U.S. Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense alongside girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair) and comrade Abe Sapien, Ron Perlman again embodies the role with the kind of pathos and humor that one can only expect from a horned, red-skinned Hell-spawn who loves kittens and acts like a hardboiled detective who happens to watch TV and drink a lot of canned beer. HELLBOY II's rather interesting antagonist, Prince Nuada, isn't just an evil dude. In the mold of the complex villains typically found in Hayao Miyazaki's animated fairy tales, his intentions of restoring control over Earth to an Elvish race by regaining the key to unlock the indestructible Golden Army are at least based on a legitimately noble sentiment before megalomania kicks in.
Selma Blair, Ron Perlman, Doug Jones, Luke Goss
"[A]live with fantasy and invention. To see this film, beautifully shot by Guillermo Navarro, is to truly feel you've entered another world, filled with nightmarish things both unimaginable and indescribable."
Los Angeles Times
"[A] breeze to watch...constantly inventive in its monsters and always ironic..."
Sight and Sound
4 stars out of 5 -- "There is plenty of action....Del Toro's fondness for the macabre, and for clockwork, colour this film in a way that's instantly recognisable."
"[HELLBOY II] delivers plenty of inventive thrills....The action is well-paced, the production design striking and the creatures and special effects spectacular. Del Toro is an extraordinary visual stylist..."
"The story of HELLBOY 2 is a happy hodgepodge of bantering humor and portentous metaphysics, packing a remarkable range of moods and genre elements into a fairly compact 110 minutes."
New York Times
"[A] hard-driving psychedelic action-movie fantasia....del Toro stages all of the action brilliantly....Dazzling..." -- Grade: B+
4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]here's more poetry and subtext than is typical for a comic-book movie, with themes of fertility, maturity and mortality laced throughout the slam-bang action set-pieces."
"[The film] arrives with stunningly beautiful set pieces, alien creatures that would make George Lucas catch his breath, and a color palette so bright and wondrous as to take your breath away."
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Guillermo Del Toro
Guillermo del Toro
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