Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Guillermo del Toro is now officially the geek golden boy, having taken over helming duties on The Hobbit, after Peter Jackson couldn't re-jig his schedule post-Lovely Bones. Seemingly growing in confidence with each film, here he tackles another of his passion projects in a sequel to the moderately successful Hellboy. He's upped the action, upped the scale and delivered a superior film to the initial outing for the horned half-devil. Here, Hellboy is called into action when an Elf Prince (Goss), breaks a treaty between humans and elves, and sets about annihilating the human race by calling forth the Golden Army - a battle-hungry set of robotic killing machines that make the skull-crushing baddies in Terminator 2 look like Johnny 5. Hellboy is never one to shy away from a scuffle, and engages in dangerous battle with his trademark wit and sardonic tone - but his loyal missus Liz (Blair), appears to be growing tired of his selfish ways. Del Toro makes beautiful movies, with well-drawn characters and pragmatic, but hugely effective special effects. This sequel is far more enjoyable, but no less unique than the decent first outing, in terms of plot. It works more than it doesn't work, though, and that again comes back to its helmer's ability to consistently inflict eyegasms. Its gothic and otherworldly feel also helps transcend the unoriginal plot, as do the mostly enjoyable turns from all concerned. Ron Pearlman owes a lot to his director, who took a massive risk casting him, and he never drops the ball once. In the same way that Robert Downey Jnr. owns Iron Man, it'd be very difficult to see anyone else playing this part so well. Some of the character interactions may feel a little awkward in parts, but overall, this is genuinely good fun and another solid entry in comic book folklore.
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