Recently, I caved and watched Hellboy for the first time. From a film perspective, I didn’t think it was really that special, but the portrayal of the primary characters were iconic enough to interest me into watching the rest of these Hellboy films, the live-action versions, at least. Fortunately, everything I had major complaints about in the first film was missing in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, immediately making the second film significantly better than the first; a rarety, but a welcome rarity, nonetheless. What’s this one about? Let’s get into it.
An evil elf breaks an ancient pact between humans and creatures, and is on a mission to release ‘The Golden Army’, a deadly group of fighting machines that can destroy the human race. As Hell on Earth is ready to erupt, Hellboy and his crew set out to defeat prince and his army.TheMovieDB
Right from the beginning few shots, you could tell The Golden Army was going to be a better-shot, better-edited, and overall better-looking movie. This all became crystal clear the more the film played out. There was a very specific vision behind how they wanted this film to look and feel. Four years after the first, the CGI team definitely stepped it up a notch, but that’s not really what you’ll notice. You’ll notice the extremely well thought-out costume and makeup design and the practical effects, something that was in the first film, but never popped the way it did here. All that is thanks to how they balanced everything together in an incredibly impressive light. In short, Hellboy II is ultimately what I wanted and even expected to see from the first movie, but didn’t.
I can’t say the storytelling is any better than the first, though, as the narrative is somewhat similar, but again, presentation is almost always key. Just like the first movie, the crisis in this film is mostly situational. They go after one thing, and then it’s all about finishing the job…but what differed was this felt ever-so-slightly like a mystery. Instead of it feeling repetitive like the first film, the scene in the beginning with the “tooth fairies” opened up a door that seemed like it was more thoroughly thought-out in a web of possibilities. It didn’t feel quite as aimless. It felt like they were heading in a specific direction, but the narrative was still incomplete, in my opinion.
Another decent improvement over the first was the action. Again, this was another element found in both films, but the presentation was better and more of what you’d expect from a Hellboy film. It was fast, it was choreographed in a more complex manor, and it was shot in a way that didn’t just look like random action. It was just a blast and a half to watch the action in this film.
In general, I’d say this was what I wanted out of the first movie, and for good reason. This was one heck of a good time. There’s a ton of action, great characters, funny moments, amazingly-shot sequences, crazy impressive makeup, costume design, and practical effects. Every technical element in this movie is near-perfect for what it was going for.
TOTAL SCORE – 87%
Current 2008 Rankings:
Overall: 10th Place out of 66 Movies
(In a Tie with The Forbidden Kingdom)
Action: 7th Place out of 25 Movies
Adventure: 3rd Place out of 17 Movies
Fantasy: 1st Place out of 9 Movies
Overall Hellboy Rankings:
1st Place out of 2 Movies
PEOPLE SCORE (17/20)
Acting (3/4) | Characters (4/4) | Casting (4/4) | Importance (3/4) | Chemistry (3/4)
WRITING SCORE (7/10)
Dialogue (1/2) | Balance (1/2) | Story Depth (1/2) | Originality (2/2) | Interesting (2/2)
Visuals (2/2) | Cinematography (2/2) | Editing (2/2) | Advertising (2/2) | Music & Sound (1/2)
NARRATIVE ARC SCORE (8/10)
Introduction (2/2) | Inciting Incident (1/2) | Obstacles (1/2) | Climax (2/2) | Resolution (2/2)
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE (6/10)
Rewatchability (2/2) | Fun Experience (2/2) | Impulse to Buy or Own (1/2) | Impulse to Talk about or Recommend (0/2) | Engaging & Riveting (1/2)
SPECIALTY SCORE (40/40)
Franchise (10/10) | Sequels, Prequels, and Spinoffs (10/10) | Action (10/10) | Halfway Decent (10/10)