Del Toro and Perlman Bring “Hellboy” Back With A Vengeance

PG-13, 120 minutes, Universal Pictures

With each passing summer season, and especially over the course of this current decade, Hollywood has made it their mission to unleash as many sequels as American audiences can handle, and then some. It’s almost as if each movie studio is in a weightlifting competition that lasts during one season every year, and the ones falling at the bottom of the box-office bin one year, begin to look for ways in the off-season (fall/winter) to pump enough steroids into their onslaught of blockbusters to make a comeback. It’s all about the money, and in sequels they obviously find their biggest avenue for profits – because no matter how ludicrous, pointless, or flat-out awful the idea of certain sequels are, the majority of people are going to pay $10 to go see them. Anyway, where I’m going with this is that the reasons for making sequels in today’s world of cinema have ultimately become up to the studios themselves, even if there is clearly nowhere else more interesting to go with a certain subject, characters, etc. There are very few that can put anticipation into a thinking audience member’s mind, to make us get excited about wanting to invest more of our time and presence in the progression of certain matter.

What was extremely impressive about the summer of 2008 was the amount of anticipation that I felt for the arriving sequels, and for good reason. All of the original cast and crew were coming back for the two most significant sequels of the year, both Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, and Guillermo Del Toro’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Both of those directors put such a stamp on the film’s before their follow-ups, that if they were to not be at the helm for the next addition it would be utterly pointless to green-light into production. It’s obvious that Del Toro’s comic book character (and film, for that matter) is on much more of a small scale than anything in the Batman world, so in a way Hellboy II could appear to be an independent Hollywood blockbuster when sized up against The Dark Knight. This doesn’t make Del Toro’s film any less grand. In fact, when we’re talking about film-making on a grand scale, especially when it comes to creatures, makeup, art direction, costume design, etc. – is there really anyone working today that can match Del Toro? I would have to say no, and that he is in a class of his own.  With that being said, his sequel here is an enormously entertaining experience, surrounding Hellboy’s world with an even bigger world of unique creatures that exist exclusively in the mind of the director himself. He packs the kind of deserving wallop that needs to come with a second film in a franchise, upping pretty much everything on the majestic end of his style, with no holding back. But unlike Sam Raimi’s disastrous attempt to pack Spider-Man 3 tight with a ton of different things, Del Toro orchestrates his world from potential madness into beauty. His films are wonderful to admire, to see multiple times in an effort to take in all of the gorgeous images.

Ron Perlman once again proves to the world that it’s not always necessary to cast a million-dollar man in a main superhero role like this, and he plays the part with such a balance of sarcastic tones, inner doubt, and just plain confidence, that it’s impossible to imagine anyone else doing it now. The original Hellboy was a fascinating experience and one that I didn’t think Del Toro could top with the sequel, and although I don’t really consider The Golden Army a better film than its predecessor, I cannot say it’s any less of a film. the cast is having an even bigger ball together here, and the script calls for it. There are love triangles that emerge in unexpected places, which prove to be the most intriguing thing about the film in my opinion, even with the spectacular action sequences – which there are plenty of and will not disappoint. Just like the first installment of this franchise, it comes within inches to complete perfection. I had a terrific time watching this film, as I always do with any Guillermo Del Toro film.



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