(Dark Horse Entertainment/Universal Pictures) If a fish falls in love with a princess and the two get married, does that make the princess a fishwife? Like a boy from hell scratching my shaved horns, that question has been burning on my mind like a fish-fry in New Orleans...but I’ll leave the answer to Ron Perlman and Guillermo del Toro.
While the plot has a few small holes and round two is not quite as focused as the original Hellboy, the sequel is nonetheless more rollicking good fun to watch. In perhaps the only movie this summer where you will find fantasy, comic strip action, science fiction, romance, and comedy all wrapped up into one, Hellboy II: The Golden Army may prove to be one of the most entertaining blockbusters of the summer.
Ron Perlman reprises his role as Hellboy, a red-colored hell-spawn who makes a smashing comeback on the silver screen, this time fighting the forces of an underground prince intent on destroying mankind.
Hellboy actually faces three “villains” in this sequel to the 2004 Hollywood rendition of the Dark Horse Comics character – Prince Nuada (Luke Goss), his pyro-kinetic girlfriend (Selma Blair), and the entire human race.
One by one, Hellboy must confront each conflict – resolve his internal strife with girlfriend Liz Sherman (Blair), overcome his need to be accepted by humans, and prevent Prince Nuada from eliminating the human race by awakening the Golden Army.
The first few minutes establish the plot for the entire movie – a young Hellboy is read a bedtime story on Christmas Eve by his father, Professor Trevor Bruttenholm (John Hurt). In the story, Hellboy is introduced to an ancient fantasy culture.
A truce is forged between humanity and the invisible realm of fantasy, maintained by the king of the underground civilization.
More than 50 years after the story was read to him, Hellboy finds the fantasy to be eerily real when he meets Princess Nuala (Anna Watson), the twin sister of Prince Nuada.
The disgruntled prince, who went into exile when the truce was forged, returns to the fantasy realm only to find his father, the king, and his sister opposed to his grand plan to awaken the Golden Army – an army he created as a child prior to the truce.
Defying his father and placing his plans in motion, Prince Nuada abandons the sister that he loves while confronting Hellboy – the last line of defense for a human race that does not care for either “being.”
Hellboy teams up with his friends from the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, including Liz, Abe Sapien (Doug Jones), and Johann Kraus (James Dodd).
With the assistance of Princess Nuala, Hellboy and his team of paranormals travel between Earth and the fantasy realm, battling fantastical creatures.
As the movie comes to a climax and Hellboy fights Prince Nuada in the final fight sequence, the hell-spawn faces a tough choice – maintain the life he knows, or follow the path of his unknown destiny.
Directed by Guillermo del Toro, Hellboy II provides moviegoers with intense action sequences, stunning visuals, and slapstick humor.
A stark improvement upon the 2004 release of Hellboy, the 2008 follow-up is ultimately an exercise of imagination and awe – a fitting response to the director who brought us Pan’s Labyrinth. Camera, effects, and Danny Elfman musical score are all excellent. Go buy a ticket and some popcorn.
'Hellboy II: The Golden Army' is in theaters now from Dark Horse Entertainment/Universal Pictures.