Hellboy II, the Golden Army review
Posted by mousewrites on July 13, 2008
The next sentence isn’t spoilery.
OH MY GOD I LOVE THIS MOVIE!
More after the jump. It has spoilers, though. Be ye warned. Spoil, spoiler, spoilerist. There. If you still bitch at me for spoiling you, then I’ll just mock you roundly.
Ok, so, I loved the first Hellboy movie. The comics are awesome, too, though there’s quite a bit of difference between them. Not in a bad way, really, but the comics have more time to develop emotional growth, and has a more subtle way of connecting people than the movies have time for. Again, this isn’t a bad thing in the slightest, in my opinion. If you’re a comic book purest, then, like every movie adaptation, I’d imagine this will disappoint you.
I am not a comic book purest, and, to fess up, am still working on reading the whole series. i haven’t even finished the Hellboy ones, let alone the BPRD or other spin-offs.
Visually, this movie was even more beautiful than HB1. It felt in places more like Pan’s Labyrinth, which, given that Del Toro got to indulge in his Otherworldly proclivities more in this one doesn’t surprise me.
The creature design is amazing. At the beginning, we see a glimpse of a tentacled creature thrashing on a lab table, and later we see it (or another of it’s kind) walking around in the Troll Market, snapping with it’s circular fin-mouth at a tasty flying thingy. There is a sense of permanence to his fairy world that I find missing in a lot of movies like this; the troll market was full of not just strange creatures, but strange creatures going about their business like they did every day.
Granted, it’s an alien world. At one point a cute little thing snuggled to a creature’s chest testily informs Hellboy that he is a tumor, not a baby, and then snuggles back down onto it’s host. Creepy, but in a cute way.
And yes, it was Steampunky. Very. The last fight scene happened on a huge spinning dais of gears, with Hellboy using them to get from area to area. There are wide shots of the massive clockwork machinery underneath the dead city, cranking and turning down into hidden magma. The Golden Army are robots, powered by some kind of massive molten reaction in their chests, but they are gear-servoed and give out great gouts of steam as they are damaged. But there are subtle signs, too; behind the Elven throne machinery stands, steaming faintly. It’s a industrialized fantasy world, and, while it may not be Victorian, it is amazing.
I’ve heard the term ‘FariyPunk‘, and perhaps that’s what this is. But, personally, I have room for a bit of the fantastic in my Steampunk; Lord Montague the big game hunter can take out a T-Rex for his trophy room, and the Cottingley Fairy pictures can be real.
Beyond the visual, the story itself was pretty awesome. The characters are (mostly-see note below) more developed, more three dimensional in this movie. Hellboy himself comes to grips with his own sense of self, and struggles with the desire to be beloved by the public he is saving.
Liz shifts a bit; she’s more normal, in a lot of ways. She’s less focused on what the world thinks of her and only dips into the melodramatic ‘you should be running’ thing once. (Note that I don’t think that aspect of Liz’s personality is bad. If I was a mutherfucking firestarter, I’d be a bit dramatic before I turned on the juice, too!). At some points she’s almost housewifey, which is weird coming from her, but clearly she’s going for a normal life, even if that means yelling at HB to pick up his socks.
Johann Kraus (though he spells it Krauss in the movie) shows up, and is… very organized and rulesticking. His suit is like something out of a Victorian chemical spill cleanup kit, and he has some amusing lines (Suck my Schwanzstucker!).
Abe was… weird. He was a LOT more human in this movie. Part of that was the voice switch (Doug Jones did both the voice and acting, this time, which is nice,) but he’s just more… involved with us weird monkeys this time. He ditches his breather halfway through this movie, which isn’t explained (my biggest pet peave with the thing), but I still adore him. If there was a character I could hang out with, I think it would be Abe.
And the big loser in the ‘character growth’ award in this movie was Tom Manning. For whatever reason, he lost that bit of humanity he gained at the end of the last movie, and retreated into the two dimensional cardboard cutout administrator he was at the beginning of HB1. Worse, even, because he doesn’t have the edge of sympathy I had for him last time. There were flashes of understanding, but mostly I just wanted to punch him in the face. This seems to be a function of the script rather than Jeffrey Tambor‘s acting, though.
All in all, I love it, and I’d go see it again.
Now, I need to go finish my daily wallpaper for the steampunk blog of time-consuming death, and then sleep. Go, see the movie. Totally worth it. 😀