Sunday, July 13, 2008

"Hellboy 2: The Golden Army" - REVIEW

NOTE: I apologize in advance for how poorly written and scatter-brained this review is...

The story starts when Elf Prince Nuada decides that humans have done too much careless damage to the earth above; he sets out on a mission to retrieve three sacred pieces of a mythical crown that will allow him to awaken the indestructible golden army, built centuries ago under his father's rule. Of course, his attempts to destroy mankind won't go interrupted. Enter Hellboy, Liz, and Abe Sapien, a trio of mutants (more or less) who work for the governement's secret branch, Bureau of Paranormal Affairs. They're ready to put a stop to Nuada's chaos with wit, better special effects, and a curiously uneven screenplay. Wait...what? Oh, that shouldn't be a problem, perhaps the film makers can just throw in more special effects! Unfortunately, these do not prove to be the answer. I know Guillermo Del Toro has a side of him that loves comic book characters, but perhaps he needs to learn two important lessons first: 1) Bigger isn't always better, and 2) you need to have a better grasp of English to write a good screenplay for this sort of character. For now, Mr. Del Toro should probably stick to films written in his own language, as it tends to yield better results (the masterpiece Pan's Labyrinth). It's not a bad film, but at times Hellboy 2 suffers from Del Toro's lack of a nuanced grasp on the English language. What's truly ironic is that everytime Del Toro tries to make things BIGGER, they end up not being as satisfying; his close up one on one sword duels are much more exciting than his face off between Hellboy and a giant plant creature that tears the sh*t out of a few city blocks with ease. Then later, when Hellboy and company enter a vast underground cavern, the areas that are the farthest away seem fake while those up close look breathtaking real. Also, his multitude of bizarre creatures, though intriguiing to look at, don't really have their desired effect, because we have little intimacy with them. Though there were only a small handfull of creatures Del Toro designed for Pan's Labyrinth, each one had a specific purpose and was necessary to the plot; here, they just feel like Del Toro's way of showing off how creative he is. Only two new creatures stand out, and one is criminally underused. The first is Johann Kraus, a German wisp of pyschic smoke who stays contained within a sort of diving suit. Kraus (brilliantly voiced by Seth MacFarlane) gets plenty to do, and his bickerings with Hellboy (also perfectly cast Ron Perlman) are all well executed. However, the Angel of Death, perhaps the coolest looking and most intriguing of all the throw away characters, has one important task, and then disappears as quickly as he/she/it came. That being said, there are plenty of enjoyable moments, namely a sidesplittingly funny moment where Hellboy and Abe sing along to a Barry Manilow song (it's nice to know that the movie openly doesn't take itself seriously at all). All in all, it's a mixed bag, but an oddly enjoyable chaotic mess of a mixed bag. I really feel the urge to rent "The Devil's Backbone"....or to watch Pan's Labyrinth again....just something to remind me of what a genius Del Toro can be.......

Grade: B/B-

Nominations: Best Art Direction(#3), Best Costume Design(#2), Best Visual Effects(#2),Best Makeup(#1 WINNER), Best Sound Editing(#3), Best Sound Mixing(#3)

Number of 2008 films seen: 19

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