Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
Saw it Friday night. And since then I’ve been mentally debating whether or not I was going to even write a blog. Sometimes, if you don’t have something nice to say – you just shouldn’t say anything at all. I’ll split the difference, and because I don’t have a whole lot of nice things to say, I’ll just be brief instead. Hey, I tried to be brief. Honest.
Guillermo del Toro is the Frank Oz/Jim Henson of this Hollywood era of intriguing visual effects. Alright, maybe he and Peter Jackson can share the title. However you want to heap the praise on these two men, I feel like everything they are doing is leaving their predecessors (Oz, Henson, Lucas) in the dust. Which is how it should be. The apprentice must surpass the master. It is the way of the world.
Visually, their (Del Toro, Jackson) films are stunning – without having to rely too heavily on the digital creations that make George Lucas‘ recent movies cringingly difficult to stomach. If Lucas had it his way, the frickin actors would be digital as well (and I’m not the first one to make the statement about the man).
Del Toro brings the fun and imaginative and makes the magic feel real. Even in a film that I am not particularly enjoying for other reasons – you can say nothing wrong about his expert eye for cinema, and his ability to craft awe-inspiring creatures/characters.
Yes – he’s got a handle on the characters for this franchise. There were particularly amusing and lovable Hellboy moments, which I won’t divulge here, but when you see them, you know them immediately.
Guillermo also paid more homage to the source material this time around – bringing in trolls, faeries and oogly monsters that populate the pages of the comic. It’s strange then, that the creator Mike Mignola would indicate “this is more Guillermo’s world than mine,” because many of the elements featured in this film are resounding of the comic book – more so than the first film (you might say).
It seems weird to say then – that the first Hellboy movie – seems more “Hellboy” to me (having read the comics, watched the animated cartoons, etc).
Mostly because Hellboy was way more bad-ass in the first film.
This movie held almost ZERO suspense for me. The plot was way-ward, sometimes spelled out too distinctly, at other times incredibly murky and distant from the audience. There was no dramatic tension, and the material was clearly angling for it on several occasions. The script wanted us to feel one way, but I was very much feeling…well, not much of anything. I was getting the facts, but I wasn’t feeling it.
I’m tipping all the bad hats to the script, because the acting, visuals, music, everything else was spot on.
The dialogue was falling flat for me. The build up of the plot was choppy – the characters were acting and reacting, but the script never allowed them room to show their motivation. They would simply tell it to the audience. That felt really cheap. In film – you should do more showing than telling.
This seems like a surprising statement to make about a director who is best known for his SHOWING. His visuals. Or maybe, I shouldn’t be that surprised at all.
He is in fact – concentrating heavily on the showing. Just not so much centered around the plot. What I felt – is that Guillermo became lost in the nuances of the puppets and monsters and set designs, so the main characters, the plot and the audience suffers for it.
There was simply too much crammed into the film to wade through it all on initial viewing. And I don’t think I liked it enough to subject myself to repeated viewings (as I have with the first Hellboy film).
I’m not sure if this is a good or bad element – so I’m slipping it in the middle category. The pacing of the film was rapid fire. There were few down moments around all the action sequences, and these brief moments were piled high with exposition, and no real emotion. Emotion was stated, but not allowed to be felt.
On the other hand (the Red Right one) – it was a comic book/action movie. Being fun and action filled is what it’s all about.
BUT – If everything else is bowing to the cause of the action, the film can only be SO good.
There was one moment in the entire flick which held promise for me. And I can guarantee you it was laying the ground-work for Hellboy 3. I’m not going to give it away, but it has something to do with this attractive monster.
It might be a sad statement if my favorite part of the movie was a sub-plot that will inevitably be resolved in some other movie. Which I will probably like better.
I’ve discovered that what a Hellboy movie needs is A LOT of Hellboy – Ron Perlman was not allowed to be his character on screen nearly enough. He hardly had time to crack wise and look surly. It was a shame, and there had better be improvements for the third installment.
IN A SHOCKING TWIST:
I was also a bit annoyed with the Liz Sherman character, who seemed to be over-shadowing Hellboy in many scenes. She and Abe Sapien both had so much screen-time…why bother calling the damned thing Hellboy? It would have been better to reference it as “Hellboy 2: BPRD.” Of course, I’m not bothered with team movies, if that is made clear initially. But when I go to a Hellboy movie, I expect lots of exciting Hellboy times.
Not Liz Sherman cracking wise and talking tough. Wasn’t she a neurotic mess at the end of the last film? I liked broody Liz, she seemed like a great foil for Hellboy. And her further character development from neurotic mess to kicking-ass would have made her character a bit more interesting in this second installment.
Guillermo del Toro‘s movies, no matter how ham-fisted the script (which HE WROTE, BTW) are worth the price of admission for the amazing visual feast. I’m willing to extend him some house credit, and bet that he will do better by the material the third time out.
Much Love, Mindy C