Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Rated NR

This Guillermo del Toro film is, like most of his work, perfectly mediocre with some pretty, highly derivative visuals and no real sense of story. The plot begins thousands of years ago when an armistice was signed between warlike humans and forest-dwelling elves. Since then, the elfin Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) has come to believe (correctly, as far as I can tell) that humanity is now a mortal danger to the planet. So he sets out on a quest for the mysterious crown of power that will allow him to control the deadly and titular Golden Army. Meanwhile, the demonic Hellboy (Ron Perlman) is working for the U.S. government as a special anti-magic agent, and it’s his job to stop Nuada. Which means that, since Nuada is trying to save the planet, Hellboy and the government must be trying to destroy it. But that’s crazy; the U.S. government would never recklessly endanger the planet! What’s interesting about this film is that Hellboy is a largely unpleasant figure—loud, smelly and socially abrasive. So the trick in a film like this is to make the audience sympathize with him. This is a trick that del Toro has apparently not learned, as all through the film, I kept rooting for Prince Nuada. I mean, he’s trying to save the planet; he’s neat and well-dressed; he works very hard; and he’s extremely dedicated to his goal. With all of that, I can forgive all the killing he does. And yet, for some reason, Hellboy is the hero and gets to have Selma Blair as his girlfriend. It’s an ugly world. Note to film buffs: Watch for the reference to John Landis’ most famous unmade film!

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