Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

hellboy ii IMDb

This was a pretty disappointing sequel. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the first Hellboy, and looked forward to seeing more of his story. Unfortunately, nothing that compelling happens. The new characters introduced are boring. The only good things about this are that Ron Perlman continues to kill it as Hellboy, and Guillermo del Toro brings more distinct style and humor to the script. Other than that… I’d probably recommend skipping this one.

The main difference between this film and its predecessor is that this story focuses much more on mythology. So no Nazis and no Rasputin, and I’m out. OK, not really, but I wasn’t as taken with the story as I was before. Hellboy grounded its supernatural elements in history. The Golden Army introduces its own history, based entirely on fantasy and supernatural forces, and places the real world in peril because of it. Both are common to the comic book film genre. I just wasn’t as interested in this one.

My main qualm is that the primary new characters are not that compelling to me. The new antagonist is elf (I think?) Prince Nuada, who is seeking pieces of a crown that will give him control of a mythical Golden Army which he intends on using to destroy humanity. The supernatural army seems imposing enough, but Nuada hardly seems menacing. I feel like he wasn’t given enough screen time and his story wasn’t developed well enough. A second character is also introduced– Princess Nuala, Nuada’s sister– but again, the character is given little time to be developed. She seems tagged on as an afterthought, her only purpose being to give Abe Sapien a love interest for no reason whatsoever.

Ron Perlman and Selma Blair are still great in their roles. Abe Sapien is no longer being voiced by David Hyde Pierce, which is a real shame. Another new addition to the cast is Seth McFarlane as ectoplasmic psychic Johann Krauss. He’s actually a lot of fun, adding more levity and humor to the script. Overall the main cast is solid, it’s just the script that feels lacking here.

Rating: C+

I’m not sure if there is any more I can say about this film that wasn’t already said in my review for Hellboy number one. This is still a fun ride, led by Ron Perlman as the titular hero demon, but it does not rise any further than the original did. Really good sequels expand on what was introduced in the first movie, Hellboy 2 never feels like it is doing that.

This sequel picks up a few years after the first film, Hellboy is still working for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense with his friend Abe Sapien (Doug Jones). Their previous colleague, Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) has checked herself into a mental institution so she can learn to control her pyrotechnic powers. This is making Hellboy depressed as he is in love with Liz. Meanwhile, a mystical Prince (Luke Goss) hopes to find an army of unbeatable soldiers called the Golden Army and use them to declare war on humanity. Hellboy has to stop this prince before he can find the Golden Army and use it to destroy the world. Things get complicated when Abe announces he is in love with the Prince’s sister (Anna Walton).

There is not much to say about this film. Perlman is still great as Hellboy. I also really liked new addition to the BPRD, Johann Krauss (Voiced by Seth MacFarlane). He is a psychic turned into an ectoplasmic being during a séance and confined to an airtight suit. The character is a lot of fun, and his banter with Hellboy is one of the film’s highlights.

I feel like this sequel probably came out a little too late. It was made four years after the original, which was a sleeper hit. I feel like the movie should have come out straight away to capitalize on the strong word of mouth of the original. As it is, people had long since forgotten about Hellboy and were gearing up for the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the continuation of Nolan’s Batman saga. Hellboy may have been a litte too out there for mainstream audiences that now had a large selection of comic book films to enjoy.

I must give credit to Ron Perlman as Hellboy though. He gives his all and is great in the role. He has always said he would be up for a third Hellboy adventure, but I feel this series has likely been forgotten by now.

Rating: C

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