Plenty style but little substance…
Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Starring: Ron Perlman as Hellboy, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Luke Goss
What’s it about? Hellboy, a boy from..hell, wouldn’t you know, is now all grown up and working for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence with his girlfriend, Liz (Selma Blair). When some creatures, namely Prince Nuada, decide to start a rebellion against the human race, it’s up to Hellboy and co to step in and sort things out…and they go to Antrim in Ireland (seriously!).
It’s been a summer of superheroes, but while many of this year’s releases have shared common ground, with the Marvel movies even overlapping and sharing cameos, Hellboy is in a world of his own. Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro captures this world with lavish sets that boast the most amazing colour schemes. Anyone who has seen Pan’s Labyrinth will know what to expect. Del Toro is making his mark by adapting a certain style that he will no doubt apply to the upcoming Hobbit movie. There’s something refreshing about Hellboy too thanks to the old school costume design: no CGI heroes or batsuits; just lots of facepaint and elaborate outfits.
Unfortunately, while it all looks impressive, the plot meanders along with no real climax. Much of the storyline focuses on Hellboy’s relationship problems with his girlfriend, Liz (Blair) which would be fine if it were balanced out with a decent showdown between Hellboy and his enemies. As it is, Hellboy comes up against the same villain (Prince Nuada) on several occasions so that by the time the finale rolls around, there’s nothing too surprising on offer. There are some interesting looking creatures on show here but none pose any real threat to Hellboy. We know that the hero always wins in these movies…but it would be nice to have that certainty shaken.
Hellboy’s accomplice and friend, Abe Sapien (Jones) is possibly the most sympathetic character, soft spoken and gentle and thus an obvious contrast to Hellboy who resembles a 20-something slob. The twins, Prince Nuada and Princess Nuala are interesting but their resemblance to those elves from Lord of the Rings is almost distracting. In fact the movie is ripe for comparison to other films..outside of the Pan’s Labyrinth similarities, it contains a scene surely plucked from Burton’s Edward Scissorhands, complete with Danny Elfman music.
Hellboy II is enjoyable enough but it doesn’t leave you wanting more and it hasn’t convinced me to watch the prequel either. Best superhero movie of 2008? Still Ironman for me!