Monday, July 28, 2008

HELLBOY 2: Even Better Than The First

HELLBOY 2: THE GOLDEN ARMY (fantasty thriller)
Cast: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, John Alexander, James Donn, Luke Goss, Jeffrey Tambor and John Hurt

Director: Guillermo Del Toro

Time: 110 mins

Rating: * * *
(out of 4)

After 'Iron Man', 'The Incredible Hulk' and 'Hancock', this summer's mayhem of crazy street
battles continues. Like 'The Dark Knight', Guillermo Del Toro's 'Hellboy 2' is a sequel that delivers almost everything that is expected of it. Fast-paced action? check! Funny, cute elfish and insect-like critters? check! Self-deprecating character-development? check! A fantasy tale that sustains our interest? check!

The opening takes viewers in a flashback to the 40s when Hellboy is a kid and asked to be told a
bedtime story. His guardian (John Hurt) tells him the tale of the Golden Army, a formidable bunch of mechanical warriors so powerful and destructive that they have to be 'discharged' and kept hidden. This opening thus serves as an introduction to the origin of the Golden Army and the 'war' between humans and the forest creatures led by an elf king.

Years later, the ancient truce between the elves and humans is broken when elf-prince Nuada (Luke Goss) tries to team up with his twin sister Nuala (Anna Walton) in his bid gain control of the Golden Army so that he can wage war on mankind. Meanwhile, at the top-secret paranormal government lab where Hellboy (Ron Perlman, pictured above) works, his boss Tom Manning (Jeffrey Tambor) welcomes a new superbeing, Dr Johann Kraus who is but a puff of gas with a creaky diving suit and a Prussian accent (voiced by Seth MacFarlane). Abe Sapien (Doug Jones), Hellboy’s foil and sidekick, returns and this time finds romance of his own.

It is nice to watch a movie that does not take itself seriously and Del Toro just lets the narrative
juices flow along, accompanied by huge doses of tongue-in-cheek humour as well as visual wonders of strange beings and mechanical warriors. Yes, it is also fun to see Hellboy and his girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair, in a captivating performance) trying to go through life like a normal couple; it is hilarious to find Hellboy and Abe baring their hearts out over their love life in a singalong of a Barry Manilow song; and it's eye-popping to visit Trolls' Market which reminds us of the alley where Harry Potter got his magic wand.

Yes, these are the stuff that make 'Hellboy 2' really enjoyable and engaging, not so much the duels and smashing
battles that every summer blockbuster seems to have. There are some problems with the ending, but nothing we can't overlook.

THE LOWDOWN: If you liked 'Pan's Labyrinth', you're gonna like this one too.


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