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POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Ron Perlman
Selma Blair
Doug Jones
Luke Goss
Anna Walton.
Directors
Guillermo del Toro.
Screenwriters
Guillermo del Toro.
Running Time
120 minutes

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Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Make it last a little longer with Big Red


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Plot
Hellboy (Perlman) is struggling to accept the strictures of his secret life, or make compromises for the sake of his relationship with pyrokinetic girlfriend Liz (Blair). But with elf prince Nuada (Goss) about to declare war on humanity, he soon has more to worry about…


Review
Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Perhaps the most grievous fault of the original Hellboy film was that there simply wasn’t enough of the eponymous demon-turned-defender-of-humanity (Ron Perlman) in it. With bad guys including a reincarnated Nazi-Russian magician, his Eva Braun-alike girlfriend, a self-replicating mutant and a clockwork-powered assassin, there wasn’t time to develop the main character beyond a penchant for pizzas, cats and his fire-raising teammate, Liz Sherman (Selma Blair). This time the focus is back where it belongs - on Big Red and his friends. While they’re surrounded by a wealth of characters ranging from gorgeous to grotesque, this is a Hellboy film that gives the fans everything that they were hoping for first time around, and more besides.

The great white hope before release was that director Guillermo del Toro would manage to combine the two threads of his career here: the populist Hollywood comic-book movies like Blade II, and the imaginative flair and visual wizardry of Pan’s Labyrinth.

To some extent, he’s done just that; the creature design is extraordinary, the world an Art Deco masterpiece, every frame crammed with detail that begs to be freeze-framed and examined at leisure - particularly in the stunning Troll Market set-piece. And there is more going on than simply the ‘find bad guy, beat him up’ arc of a first-base comic-book story. Del Toro’s beasties have pathos: not one of them goes down without showing a moment of, well, humanity, and the bad guys are, arguably, the ones with right on their side.

That layering calls Hellboy’s role very much into question. He fights for the humans, yes, but he’ll never be accepted as one of them. And as a ‘freak’ himself, he sees beyond the monstrous appearance of the other magical creatures, causing him more than a slight pang when faced with killing a creature that may be unique, the last of its kind. That’s particularly true of a rampaging “forest elemental” straight out of Miyazaki, let loose on the streets of Manhattan on a mission to kill Big Red himself. Such layering is built into the design of the creatures: even bad guy Prince Nuada’s (Luke Goss) right-hand troll, Wink (Brian Steele), has enough expressiveness in the rubber face to add colour to a role that essentially does just involve beating people up and growling, while Ron Perlman’s Hellboy betrays subtle whispers of emotion with every twitch of his heavily prostheticised face. It’s typically del Toro, too, to make the ravenous, rampaging “tooth fairies” also strangely cute, and to give them a fondness for amateur dramatics (judging by one death scene, at any rate). Even his take on a facehugger looks like a cross between a squid and an orchid, while his Angel Of Death is terrifyingly, obscenely beautiful.

The creatures at the heart of this moral labyrinth are Nuada and his twin sister, Nuala (Anna Walton). Twin heirs to an elf throne, separated by their opposing views on peaceful co-existence with humans but locked together by bonds of siblinghood, it falls on them to drive the plot, as Nuada schemes to rediscover and unleash the unstoppable, invincible Golden Army against humanity to restore a balance promised long ago, and Nuala seeks help to stop him. Perversely, after complaining that the villains got too much screentime in the first film, Nuada needs a tiny bit more to make a proper impact here. Another quick brooding scene, perhaps, in his subway lair, or a more thorough attempt to win Hellboy over to his side and explain his agenda, would give him more weight and make his cause both more appealing and more dangerous. It’s tempting to blame Goss, but he does a perfectly good job, even if it is much the same role as he played in Blade II.

But it is by no means all doom and gloom and moral philosophising. Hellboy and the Bureau Of Paranormal Research and Defence (BPRD) are much, much funnier than before, closer to the tone of the comics and the animated films than ever. A walk-and-talk through its corridors is elevated by some outrageous background shenanigans - think Men In Black’s headquarters - and the mournful comedy of Jeffrey Tambour as boss-man Manning. Meanwhile, the team is invigorated by the arrival of ectoplasmic German mist/mystic Johann Kraus (voiced by Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane). His vast self-assurance, refusal to be intimidated by Hellboy, and stereotypically Teutonic efficiency make him the perfect foil for Big Red’s belligerence, Liz’s self-effacement and Abe Sapien’s (Doug Jones) tendency towards academic fascination. Sapien has a much increased role. Left out in the cold a little by Hellboy’s stormy relationship with Liz, he becomes fascinated with Nuala, in whom he sees something of a kindred spirit.

Their romance is tentative and lightly sketched, but Jones’ hesitance makes it rather sweet. He’s now voicing, as well as playing Abe (David Hyde Pierce had taken voice duties in the first film), and if he’s not quite as delicately intellectual, he compensates by perfectly matching his body language to his speech.

Meanwhile, Liz and Hellboy’s relationship may be quite literally fiery, but it’s also one grounded in real affection. That’s not to say that they express it easily: “I would give my life for her - but she also wants me to do the dishes,” complains Hellboy, somewhat missing the point in a rare moment of male bonding with Abe, amid the fistfights and explosions.

And there is plenty of action. The opening salvo is a puppet epic, as Hellboy’s father (John Hurt) reads the 11 year-old Red a legend about a war between man and magical creatures, culminating in the creation and deployment of the fearsome Golden Army, monsters that would be straight out of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth were it not for the cogs that power them. The puppets are a lovely touch, reminiscent of Strings, but from then on the action gets a little more grounded, relying more on prosthetics than CG, and variations on the theme of fisticuffs. Hench-troll Wink has the clever gimmick of a hand that flies like a medieval mace (more clockwork, of course), while Nuada uses a nifty extendable spear and wire-fu combo to keep things fresh. Admittedly, it sometimes feels like a string of events in s


Verdict
As much Tolkien’s baby as Mignola’s, this has more heart and humour than most fantasy films can dream of. Hellaciously good.


Reviewed by Helen O'Hara

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Empire Star Rating

hellboy 2

For starters i have to admit the young hellboy was nowhere near brilliant and was slightly dodgy, and no, the golden army is not in it as much as they could have been. But in my opinion, everything else about the film was great. The storyline is fantastic, and it explains very clearly about why prince Nuada hates mankind, it really gives you an understanding of what the films about. I loved the film from begining to end and did'nt get up to go to the toilet once all the way through the film... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by K.J.E at 22:12, 11 September 2008 | Report This Post


Don't hate, appreciate

I loved this film from beginning to end and have to agree whole-heartedly with the empire review, it was a great improvement on the first film and I love Del toro's vision of great fantasy, all those people who were expecting Pans Labyrinth 2 need to get a life. Hellboy is pure unadulterated entertainment and let's be honest a thousand times better than 95% of the other blockbuster crud that gets churned out (I'm looking at you Mummy 3). Hellboy for President! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by andreaswright69 at 14:46, 09 September 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Fantastic

Yes, I too read this, He clearly stated this is his director's cut, this was his desired effect. ... More

Posted by Incanus at 01:53, 09 September 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Fantastic

L: raithrover   Seems a film that divides opinion, maybe only time will tell or a directors cut?p; According to Del Toro himself, the current film the director's cut. ... More

Posted by Tank Boy at 01:27, 09 September 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Fantastic

Seems a film that divides opinion, maybe only time will tell or a directors cut? I am glad that I'm not alone with my disappointment with Hell Boy 2. For all the hype and positive reviews across the board, I really felt let down by it. ... More

Posted by raithrover at 18:18, 08 September 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Fantastic

The first Hellboy film was pretty good - nothing special, and I'd probably rate this sequel higher. The characters again, are decent; it's very funny in places; the story makes sense; the action scenes are well-done; and the main enemy, Prince Nuada is superb - his scenes are brilliant and probably the best bits of the film. The ongoing tease of turning against ungrateful humans leans towards a third film, which I'd definitely see.   7/10 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Paul2j at 09:59, 07 September 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Fantastic

L: UTB L: Wilbert the kid who played the young Hellboy was rubbish! Lol it was more disturbing than rubbish! Awww I thought he was cute. I couldnt stop laughing at him. <ahem> I just saw this yesterday. Overall I had a good time. It was a simple story with wonderful characters, some laughs and some good fights. Alright I have not seen Pans Labyrinth yet but this film seemed like that + the last Hellboy. SPOILERS There are a lot of similar elements from the la... More

Posted by the anomaly at 10:38, 05 September 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Hellboy II: Golden Army (what army?)

This was average. Enjoyable, but average. The "young Hellboy" looked like they ran out of budget and had to get make up from the pound store. I can understand why you don't have more of an undefeatable robot army, but the movie's tagline was "The Golden Army" so I expected a bit more from them.   It always annoys me when we have the "turn on the hero", Hellboy had just saved the city, saved a baby, everyone had just seen it, yet they turned on him. The public should have been put in mo... More

Posted by Y2Neildotcom at 09:11, 05 September 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Hellboy II: Golden Army (what army?)

Saw it tonight, I did enjoy it, although it's not without it's faults. It's overflowing with imagination, and there's a lot of on-target wit (Johann Krass is wonderful), but the film's narrative is a bit wonky at points. Still, it has it's charms, and should be interesting check to out again... ... More

Posted by Tank Boy at 00:39, 05 September 2008 | Report This Post


Hellboy II: Golden Army (what army?)

Golden Army! What Golden Army?? I only saw a bit of them in the beginning,and then almost at the end of the film.What a letdown!! They really were under-used. What a shame! This film could have been much better had they been awoken a bit earlier on.They were pretty mean looking robot monsters!! But,having said that,del Toro did direct a great looking film. The visuals were really good,the comedy bits I thought were a little weak.The only thing that raised a laugh out of me was when Red was g... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by prometheus27 at 21:31, 04 September 2008 | Report This Post


RE: I've figured it out!

'Can't smile without you'...........WTF????   Ruined by some idiot sitting directly behind me who thought it neccessary to laugh his big fat head off at every single little bit of humour, (not that i could say any one bit of the film warranted a belly laugh).   As others have also said i feel too many of the characters were Pan's labyrinth esc and i couldn't help but get them confused whilst watching it......Especially the creature with many eyes at the end.  ... More

Posted by primebhoy at 14:03, 04 September 2008 | Report This Post


I've figured it out!

I must go back to the cinema and ask for my money back. Judging by Empire's review they sold me tickets to the wrong movie. What I saw was the biggest load of rubbish I've sat through in it's entirety since I mistakenly wandered into a Martin Lawrence movie! I will admit it looked great, but that only heightened the complete lack of substance, although the opening animation of the fairy tale was excellent and the duet mid-way made me guffaw. I suppose everyone makes mistakes and let's hope th... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by FTJ_Mackey at 20:58, 03 September 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Hellboy II: The Golden Army

My housemates went to watch this and said it was great, magical and all things positive. My mate who works at the cinema said of the 30 people he'd spoken to who had seen it, not one thought it was any good. I thought i'd better see it cos i had been looking forward to it. They put the certificates on these things and say it contains some swearing and such; mild peril has always been my favourite. This film doesn't even have mild, it's like a watery sort of peril, maybe made from Fairy Liquid. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lovewych at 19:59, 03 September 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Poor Boy

I believe you can compare them. Because yes you have genre comparission, but a great film should be a great film. Example if every single comic book film previously was awful (hard to be worse than this), should this film by default get five stars? NO.   What I wanted to do is compare how Empire isn't judging films fairly. As far superior films are getting less of a rating, because a magazinae is blinded by it's love of this comic and del toro. ... More

Posted by dizcostu007 at 13:02, 02 September 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Poor Boy

L: dizcostu007 What are empire on. Look at films such as American Gangster and Elizabeth the Golden age being given 3 stars and this gets 4. I am starting to think Empire are turning into a bunch of fan boys, rather than proper balanced reviewers. The pace of the film is poor and the opening scence is stupid. Visually it looks great, but if this film had been reviewed objectively it would have got 2 or 3 stars. Th charecters (other than sapien) are poor. They have to have dramatic musi... More

Posted by Epiphany Demon at 13:36, 01 September 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Great fun. movie. pure esacpeism. Alot more fun packed then the First.  all the creature on offer are a triumph the view;. This has defintaly given the francise a shot i the arm go see it. you wont be dissappointed ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ukacidman at 11:10, 01 September 2008 | Report This Post


Hell-bore

It could have been so good, Hellboy and Abe are really good characters but Selma Blair was annoying and the plot too slow. Too often an average joke was extended for an overly long time. The effects were good, however they simply appeared to make pretty scenery rather than excitement. Now I've not read the comics but this was imilar to watching Ang Lee's Hulk expecting carnage and getting very little. In the pros though, the Seth MacFarlane character was good and the mosters make The Hobbit seem... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by cluesy at 17:46, 31 August 2008 | Report This Post


lets hope he doesnt screw up the hobbit

Well we know this is one of empires favourite directors so a 4 stars doesnt suprise me. After an appalling start (young hellboy looks crap, sounds crap with bad lipsinc), the movie does pick up and has its moments but really its a total mess and the "slapstick" moments seem ill at ease with the rest of the movie. Oh and with the odd exeption the monsters looked crap (obviously rubber costumes - check out Abe's neck, the legless goblin and half a dozen creatures in the troll market). D... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blindlemonpie at 18:45, 30 August 2008 | Report This Post


Poor Boy

What are empire on. Look at films such as American Gangster and Elizabeth the Golden age being given 3 stars and this gets 4. I am starting to think Empire are turning into a bunch of fan boys, rather than proper balanced reviewers. The pace of the film is poor and the opening scence is stupid. Visually it looks great, but if this film had been reviewed objectively it would have got 2 or 3 stars. Th charecters (other than sapien) are poor. They have to have dramatic music every time Hellboy appe... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dizcostu007 at 13:07, 30 August 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Fantastic

L: Wilbert  the kid who played the young Hellboy was rubbish! Lol it was more disturbing than rubbish! ... More

Posted by UTB at 08:30, 30 August 2008 | Report This Post


RE: not as good as the first film

It bugs the fuck out of me that I haven't seen this one yet, I really gotta make time for it this weekend. ... More

Posted by Kazuya at 21:37, 29 August 2008 | Report This Post


What can I say!

I thought Hellboy was shocking! I really thought Del Toro could have produced something with a bit more depth to it! Although, I admit, some of the scenery and the wonderful, Jim Henson esque, creatues where fantastic to look at. But, dare I say, that was the only positive I could draw from it. I will start with my main problem. I was not a huge fan of the first film, however, for my, David Hyde Pierce providing the voice of Abe made the film for me. It was such a mistake not to cast him again a... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by timclamp at 19:12, 29 August 2008 | Report This Post


The Golden Army

I saw this last night with my girlfriend and i absolutely loved it. It was fun, with a great story and fantastic characters and terrific ideas. It was funny, and emotional (the elemental in particular) and had great action. It was better than i expected and i had high hopes. I love Del Toro's imagination. It is just behind Wall-E and The Dark Knight as one of the best films of the summer and a little bit better than Iron Man. 4.5/5 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mafyou at 14:33, 29 August 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Good - but could have been better

Very disappointing sequel to an already patchy first film. While a fan of Guillermo del Toro's work this is his poorest effort since Mimic. The initial sequence in the auction house is probably the most enjoyable with the fairies, but it soon becomes clear this film has become dumbed down for a 12A and tries to cater for everyone. It tries to do too much introducing various characters, subplots and the drinking sing-along was just tedious. Losing sight of the main battle against evil until... More

Posted by raithrover at 13:55, 29 August 2008 | Report This Post


Good - but could have been better

Having watched the original Hellboy recently, I was looking forward to seeing what Guillermo del Toro did with this sequel. Having also checked out Blade 2, and Pan's Labyrinth within the last few months (including del Toro's commentary on the former) clearly he is a passionate and imaginative director with a clear visual style. Hellboy 2 follows the continuing (and varied) adventures of Hellboy working for the BPRD and trying so hard to remain covert - the BPRD, not Hellboy. Hellboy seems ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by timkenyon at 08:51, 29 August 2008 | Report This Post


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