Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Hellboy 2 : The Golden Army Review

We're a pretty lucky bunch us cinema going people. The influx of 'real' creative types into the big budget blockbuster end of Hollywood has done nothing but good things for the medium. From Bryan Singer taking on X-Men to Christopher Nolan with The Dark Knight, summer movies have never been as thoughtfully constructed. Compare that to the late 90's and your 'visionary director of $100 million plus budgets' was more likely to be hacks like Joel Schumacher or Jan DeBont. Now with the sequel to his own, not too shabby, Hellboy we have the king of the twisted fairytale Guillermo Del Toro having another crack at making the kids holidays cinema friendly again.

The Golden Army begins with a flashback of kiddie Hellboy being read a story by his pops (the deaded from the first one, John Hurt) which tells us of the war between Mythical Creatures and Man. Flash forward to the present and it looks like Luke Goss from Bros has decided that the war must come again. Which is a pain for Hellboy as he's having some girlfriend issues, but a pleasure as it means he might be able to step into the limelight. And he's quite a fan of the limelight.

This sequel is set just long enough after the first one for our characters to have grown up and settled down a little. Which is the first thing it does right because the original had that whiny bunch of teenagers feel to it. You know that 'we're fitting a demographic here people, lets give the hairless ballbag brigade someone they can associate with' feel to it. So while the gang have stopped listening to Bullet For My Valentine and moved onto the Eels (is there a film they haven't soundtracked?) Hellboy is still as sullen, moody and argumentative as before. Which is a real treat when played by the 58 year old Ron Perlman.

In fact like no other comic book character before Ron Perlman is the quintessential Hellboy. Even Bale, as terrific as he is as Batman, could be replaced, but that jaw line coupled with the prosthetics mean Ron is Big Red from now until the end of time. Hellboy 2 is also a better comic book movie than The Dark Knight. (Please read that sentence again as I did say its a better 'comic book' movie as opposed to simply a better movie.) In that the look, the feel, the sheer ridiculousness of it means the fanboys will lap up the closeness to source material. But Guillermo also adds his 'Del Toroness' to it, meaning his imagination far out ways the constraints of simple adaptation. If he can do the same to the forthcoming Hobbit, this Golden Age of Blockbusters may continue for some time.

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