Hellboy II: The Golden Army – DVD Review
By Jeff Swindoll Nov 11, 2008, 12:21 GMT
The mythical world starts a rebellion against humanity in order to rule the Earth, so Hellboy and his team must save the world from the rebellious creatures. ...more
If I had to pick a modern favorite director then that would have to be Guillermo Del Toro. Del Toro returns to the character that might well be most associated with him and further explores the fascinating world of Hellboy in this excellent sequel.
It’s Christmas 1955 and Hellboy is a pre-teen awaiting the arrival of another fellow in red, Santa Claus. His adoptive father, Professor Broom (John Hurt in a welcome cameo), wants him to go to bed but Hellboy won’t go to be without a bedtime story. Broom pulls out one of his ancient texts and tells Hellboy the tale of the Golden Army.
Balor, king of the elves, commissioned a goblin blacksmith to build him an unstoppable army because man was overrunning his race. When he sees the vicious army in action he decides to call a truce with mankind and decommission the army. Balor’s son Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) doesn’t agree with the truce and leaves in exile. The crown that controls the army is broken into three pieces, one kept by man and the other two by the elves.
Cut to modern times and Prince Nuada has discovered that one of the pieces of the crown is up for auction and attacks the auction house. The Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense is called in to handle the aftermath of the attack. Hellboy (Ron Perlman) isn’t happy to be under the bureaucratic head of the organization Manning (Jeffrey Tambor) and takes every opportunity to go against him. He’s not in very good stead with his girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair) who is tiring of Hellboy’s irresponsible ways.
During the investigation the empathic Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) discovers that Liz has a secret that even she didn’t know about (I’ll not spoil it for you).
The Prince returns to the court of Balor (Roy Dotrice) to inform him of his plan and to retain the other two pieces of the crown, one from his father and the other from his sister Princess Nuala (Anna Walton), with force if necessary. The Princess escapes the carnage and comes under the protection of the Bureau and Abe has eyes for the new addition.
There are also some changes there as the ectoplasmic and officious Johann Krauss (voiced by Seth McFarlane) takes over the team, much to Hellboy’s chagrin, but all must come together as they have to stop the Prince from reawakening the Golden Army and destroying mankind.
Hellboy II is a welcome return to the land of Big Red. Things haven’t much improved for the childish demon as he’s constantly on the bad side of the bureaucracy of the organization that wants to remain a secret. Hellboy has no such qualms and puts himself in the limelight as much as possible (which causes Manning to down antacids like candy).
The arrival of a new team leader only adds to Hellboy’s frustrations but the misty Krauss may have more in common with him than he first suspects.
It’s all Ron Perlman’s show and he’s well up to the task. He makes Hellboy a loveable oaf – who just happens to be the demon that might destroy the world. It’s good to see Perlman and Selma Blair play so well off of each other and one looks forward to happy events put in motion with this sequel.
Doug Jones fully takes over the role of Abe Sapien, David Hyde Pierce provided the voice in the first film, as well as portraying two other creature characters. It’s nice to see Abe have a love interest in this film, as well as a drunken, lovesick duet with Big Red.
However, some other events are hinted at that might not make their life so rosy, but we’ll only know if another sequel is greenlit. With Del Toro hard at work on the Hobbit, we’ll just have to wait. Del Toro is not a director that takes the easy way and usually puts things into his films that makes you think.
For example, there’s a battle in the film where Hellboy fights a gigantic forest elemental. Sounds simple enough right? Not really, he goes against action movie standards and has this epic battle in the middle of the film as well as having this monster be the last of its kind.
Hellboy has to kill this magnificent creature to save “parking lots and shopping malls” and that he’ll never fit into human society. Heavy stuff for a summer action blockbuster, eh? That makes Del Toro my favorite, as well as his delightful, informative commentary tracks.
Hellboy II is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Special features include two commentaries. The first is from Del Toro and is excellent as always. The second is from cast members Jeffrey Tambor, Selma Blair, and Luke Goss. Most of the special features get short introductions by Del Toro.
Next are seven set visits (around 17 minutes) with the camera crew visiting the set and watching particular scenes being filmed. Next is the fantastic 12 minute “Troll Market Tour” that allows Del Toro to point out all the in-jokes and references hidden in the market. The 5 minute “Zinco Prologue” is an animate comic that gives an alternate opening for the film that probably gives another hint at what might potentially happen in a third film.
Disc one ends with 5 minutes of deleted scenes with an optional commentary by Del Toro.
Disc two starts off with a 23 second introduction by Del Toro. We then get to the fantastic 2 hour 34 minute “Hellboy: In Services of the Demon” making of documentary. It covers the film’s every nook and cranny and is well worth the cost of admission. The Production Workshop contains Professor Broom’s Puppet Theater that details the puppet flashback (3 minutes) at the beginning of the film, with an optional commentary by Del Toro.
The Pre-Production Vault contains a recreation of Del Toro’s director’s notebook and an image gallery. Marketing Campaign contains a print gallery and a poster gallery. You also get the film’s script on the DVD-ROM side of things.
The third disc is a downloadable version for your PC or portable device.
Hellboy II is another fantastic film from Guillermo Del Toro as well as a fantastic continuation of the Hellboy mythos. This three-disc set offers some fantastic special features that are well worth the price of admission. No hell here.