A super-secret squad of supernatural superheroes battles against the forces of evil in a second fantasy action-adventure based on a cult favorite comic book character. Alan Silverman has this look at the sequel Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
He's a formidable foe and, despite his demonic appearance - as the advertising points out - he is 'one of the good guys.' Tall and muscular with a long tail, bright red skin and horns protruding from his forehead (he keeps them filed down to avoid problems), "Hellboy" is really a pussycat. In fact, he loves kittens and enjoys just kicking back and enjoying a cold beer and a good cigar. However, with a cannon-sized pistol in his left hand (the right hand is like stone with the power of a pile-driver), he is a key agent in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. It's a good thing, too, because there are really evil characters lurking in the shadows ready to destroy humanity.
In this sequel to the 2004 hit that introduced Hellboy to movie audiences, a millennia-old truce between the humans and supernatural beings known as 'elementals' is broken and a dark prince threatens to unleash a fabled, dreaded 'golden army' of murderous robots.
That's the cue for wisecracking "Hellboy" to save the day along with his BPRD colleagues including 'Abe Sapien' (a web-footed aquatic humanoid with astounding psychic powers) and Liz Sherman (a 'pyro-kinetic' who can cause anything to burst into flame), who also happens to be our hero's lover.
"The beautiful thing about Hellboy is that he's set. He doesn't change," says Ron Perlman, who returns as the title character in Hellboy II.
"He was incredibly well-articulated from the get-go. His circumstances change greatly," Perlman adds. "The forces that are at work that are trying to alter his paths change dramatically; but the heart of the guy is, luckily, set in stone and I think is identical to the one that we created in the first movie.
"It was really important that my character showed she had matured. I kept wanting to go back," Perlman says.
Selma Blair returns as angst-ridden fire-starter Liz.
"It was such a part of Liz: that part of her that was so damaged; and I kept wanting to go back to the Liz that I knew because that's what was created indelibly in my heart and I thought because I knew her it would be such a breeze," Blair says. "But Liz this time was much more of a straightforward character. She was much more of a functioning woman, despite the fact that she has such a strange power."
"When we are used to the infallibility of heroes, my whole point about the two movies I have done on "Hellboy" is about fallibility being beautiful," adds Guillermo del Toro, who also returns as writer and director. The Mexican-born filmmaker continues the mythology he created for the first Hellboy features.
"I find it beautiful that they are fallible and emotional about the things that they do. I like these guys to make choices that are humanly relatable," he says.
"I really wondered in this movie whether I could be a 12-year-old filmmaker," Del Toro continues. "Picasso said in painting it took him 30 years to learn to paint like a seven-year-old; and I feel the same way. I'm 43, but I'm finally making movies straight from the zone that I was (in) when I was watching them as a kid. So texturally we tried to imbue the movie with little moments of movies that we loved as kids. The idea was 'can I shoot from awe?' as opposed to 'can I shoot from knowledge and certainty at age 43?' I tried to shoot it like that."
Hellboy II: The Golden Army also features supple character actor Doug Jones as Abe Sapien (and a couple of other fantastical creatures); and English actors Luke Goss and Anna Walton play supernatural twins whose conflict threatens to take over the world of the humans. Hellboy II features an otherworldly musical score by Danny Elfman.