..

HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Jeffrey Tambor, James Dodd, Seth McFarlane, Luke Goss, Anna Walton,  John Hurt
Director:  Guillermo del Toro
Audio:  DTS HD 7.1, Dolby Digital 2.0
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Universal
Features:  See Review
Length:  120 Minutes
Release Date:  November 11, 2008

“’Industrable’ my ASS.”

Film ***1/2

The original Hellboy almost slipped right past me…it just didn’t rank high on my list of must-see movies.  I owe watching it to my comrade-in-arms Gordon, who praised it as a wonderfully fun popcorn flick.  He was right.

Hellboy may not have stood out as a comic book creation compared to the likes of the Marvel and DC heroes, but he was still a shining creation, and for me, the best part of both movies was Ron Perlman’s terrifically funny and dry performance in the title role.  His delivery, physical presence, and ability to showcase a sense of fun through heavy makeup and wardrobe was what anchored the pictures and gave them connection to their audiences despite their weird ideas and concepts.

Guillermo del Toro, one of the most visually imaginative directors working today, thankfully returned to helm the sequel, and Hellboy II: The Golden Army took everything established in the first feature and turned up the volume on every aspect.  This is a wondrous movie to behold, filled with sights, spectacle and action galore, but for me, it’s still Ron Perlman that makes it all gel.

Hellboy is still an operative in a top secret government organization designed to root out the paranormal, and he’s still teamed up with his amphibious friend Abe Sapien (Jones) and his pyrotechnic love Liz (Blair), and still having trouble with the idea of ‘secret’, much to the dismay of his boss Manning (Tambor).  He’s having relationship troubles, even though he’s a perfect match for Liz…she burns, and he’s fireproof…but there is something more menacing afoot.

It goes back to a childhood story he heard from his father (Hurt, in a thankful brief return) about a king who commandeered the building of a great Golden Army of machines that could effectively wage war against all mankind.  The control of the machines is operated by a crown, which was broken into three pieces to insure the army would never rise again.  But a descendant, Prince Nuada (Goss), is ready to unleash their fury on the world again.

His twin sister, Princess Nuala (Walton), does not want to see this happen, so she joins with Hellboy and crew in an effort to stop Nuada, but he already commands some terrifying creatures, including an army of “fairies” that don’t leave much left of their victims and a forest god that has to be seen to be believed.

The problem is the ongoing notion that Hellboy himself is supposed to be instrumental in bringing an end to human kind, or so they keep telling him.  But not today…with an arsenal of amazing weaponry and some of the most droll kiss-off lines in the business, our horned hero is ready to fight to save the world that is already starting to turn against him.

This is spectacular entertainment, thanks to del Toro’s style and ability to bring the most amazing creatures to life; some fun, some frightening.  And he handles the action set pieces with style and perfection, letting his talented cast work their magic amongst a flurry of carefully constructed CGI images and sets.

One can sense there is room for more Hellboy, and as long as Ron Perlman remains in front of the camera and Guillermo del Toro behind it, I say, keep ‘em coming.

Video ****

These movies look DAMN good in hi-def.  Hellboy II is a colorful, vivid film with lots of eye-popping detail that really benefit from the contrast and crispness of 1080p presentation.  Images are sharp and stunningly rendered throughout, with amazing coloring and detail, even in the many darker sequences.

Audio ****

Hold on tight…with lossless DTS audio, this dynamic soundtrack really explodes during the many action sequences.  Crossover signals and subwoofer usage are both plentiful and expertly handled.  Dialogue is balanced well against the effects, and Danny Elfman’s music is a genuine plus.

Features ****

Plenty of extras on this Blu-ray, starting with a nice commentary from Guillermo del Toro.  There are six deleted scenes with optional commentary, an over two-hour look at the making of the movie, a tour of the troll market with del Toro (very cool), image galleries, and a production workshop puppet theatre. 

The disc also has Universal’s exclusive U-Control feature, which allows one-click access to concept art galleries, director’s notebook with sketches, and set visits using picture-in-picture while you watch.

Summary:

Hellboy II: The Golden Army is a furiously fun film that pushes the boundaries of its PG 13 rating, but delivers top notch entertainment and a reference quality Blu-ray disc to boot.  Recommended.

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com