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Review of Hellboy II: The Golden Army (4.5 stars) July 11, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Other Random Stuff.
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Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The summer of great superhero movies continues with Hellboy 2, a film that either kept me laughing, contemplating, or sitting on the edge of my seat nearly throughout. Definitely better than the first (which I still enjoyed), Hellboy 2 is certainly a movie much more suited for the general public. Hellboy 1 had a much more low-to-medium-budget, almost independent movie feel, but this time around, they’ve pulled out all the stops, making this much more grand, but still maintaining the quirkiness of first film. What’s more, they pretty much tell you everything you need to know, so those who have not seen the first film will not be lost. In fact, I might even venture to say that those who flat out didn’t like Hellboy 1 may find themselves surprised by its sequel. With plenty of action, great characters, an engrossing plot, and the touch of Guillermo del Toro’s likable bizarreness, Hellboy 2 definitely ranks among the greats amongst the best of superhero movies, and stands apart for its enjoyable uniqueness.

Those who do not want SPOILERS, READ NO FURTHER. If you would like to read my spoiler-free review, please go here.

Echoing its predecessor, Hellboy 2 opens with a prologue in the past, telling of a war of man against elves and all other magical creatures, the stakes: the rights for dominion of the earth. When hope appears lost for the elves, they order the goblins to create war machines. This leads to the birth of the Golden Army, a mechanical multitude which cannot be stopped. As Golden Army wreaks utter destruction upon man, the king of the elves realizes the horror of what he has done, and calls for a truce between the two peoples. The king covenants to keep elfkind and magic folk within the forests if mankind will remain in the cities. The peaceful pact struck, the Golden Army is stored away deep within in earth, and the Crown of Bethmora, which allows the rightful owner to control the Army, is separated into three pieces. The king keeps two for himself, and gives one to man, hoping this separation will see continued peace and the permanent entombment of the Army. The prince, angered towards man and disagreeing with his father’s decision leaves his twin sister behind and goes into self-proclaimed exile, vowing that one day he would claim the crown and take earth for his kind.

When the story moves the present, the prince steals man’s piece at an auction, slaughtering all the customers. He later confronts and kills his father, taking the second piece. Luckily, his sister is able to escape, taking her piece along. As we move to the B.P.R.D., we see that Hellboy and Liz are having relationship problems (again). When the Bureau is called to investigate the auction massacre, we get the “horror” scene of the movie as the agents have to fight off a building full of “tooth fairies,” leading to the horrific deaths of various “redshirt” agents. Parents, if you take your children to this movie (probably not a good idea anyway), make sure they don’t see this scene, otherwise they’ll be afraid to put teeth under their pillow. (Though I suppose it would save you in quarters…) This scene also throws two wrenches into the movie. First, and perhaps most surprising, we learn that Liz is pregnant. This comes as a shock to her, and she initially decides to keep it from Hellboy. Second, the rather explosive ending of the battle leads to the public “outing” of the Bureau and Hellboy. This leads to some rather interesting plot points later on.

As the B.P.R.D. members investigate the mystery of the crown, they are joined by new member Ectoplasmic Man and also eventually find and house the princess. During much of the movie, we get some great character dynamics, whether it is quick-witted arguments between the more irascible characters, or the good times shared by this band of freaks, the viewers quickly learn that these people are definitely not two-dimensional. Perhaps the most amusing scene comes when Hellboy learns that Abe Sapien has fallen for the princess. Together they share some beers, advice, and singing. That’s right, Hellboy and Abe sing. (Keep in mind the beer preceding said song.) Having fun laughing at that (I know I did).

As the movie comes to its climax, Hellboy must enter into mortal battle with the prince for command of the Golden Army. Of course, Hellboy wins (it is a comic book movie after all), but not before a fast-moving and tense duel. Having defeated his opponent, Hellboy turns to return to his friends, only for the audience to see that the prince has pulled out a hidden dagger behind Hellboy. The princess, who has been magically linked to her twin brother since birth, stabs herself, killing both siblings in the process, but saving Hellboy. You can’t help but feel sorry for Abe Sapien here. But after the brief scene of grief, we see that Hellboy, Liz, and Abe all quit the B.P.R.D., with Hellboy and Liz wanting to move to the country to raise their baby. Here, Liz corrects Hellboy revealing the proper term to be “babies,” being pregnant with twins. If all this isn’t a big “to be continued” sign for Hellboy 3, I don’t know what is.

Whether it is the moral theme of true humanity, the spectacular action, or the amusing characterization, there is plenty to like in this film. If you want a deviation from the typical superhero film, this is the path to take. Hellboy 2 ranks with Iron Man and Cloverfield as my favorite movies of the year.

-LOTRKing

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Casual Saturdays: Superhero Films Ranked May 24, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Casual Days, Comic Book Stuff, Other Random Stuff.
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1 comment so far

Following yesterday’s trend of announcements, here is a new one for today: since next week will see the season finale of LOST, and therefore my weekly LOST comment column, I’m starting another new weekly column to replace it (in addition to the Flashback column already mentioned). It will take place on Saturdays starting this week and is entitled “Casual Saturdays.” Here I will make use of the “and Other Random Stuff” title of my blog to take off my comics reviewers gloves for a while and talk about, well, other random stuff. So yes, this blog may actually end up sounding like a blog! 😉

Today’s topic doesn’t stray too far from the world of comics, as it is a post I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. You’ll recall that in my review of Iron Man I mentioned that it just may be the best superhero film I’ve yet seen, though I’d have to see it a few more times before I decided for sure. Well, now that I’ve seen it six times (long story short: I work at a movie theatre and get free movies if I accompany the guest, and I have several friends/relatives that wanted to see it) I think I can safely say that it is indeed my favorite superhero film yet, and just to give you a since of who it ranks with, I’ve decided to list my ten top favorite superhero films:

1. Iron Man
2. X2: X-Men United
3. Spider-Man 2
4. Spider-Man
5. Batman Begins
6. X-Men
7. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (it counts!)
8. X-Men 3: The Last Stand
9. Hellboy
10. Doctor Strange (yes, the animated one!)
With honorable mentions Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Daredevil and the absolute worst being Elektra and Hulk.

Of course, with three awesome superhero films yet to come out this summer, as well as Marvel’s astounding recent announcement, this list will likely look radically different in a few years. And if you want to spark an interesting discussion, leave a comment on what your top ten hero flicks are.

Next week: something having nothing to do with comics! I promise!

-LOTRKing