Being a ridiculously huge Mike Mignola
fanboy, I wish I could tell you that Hellboy II: The Golden Army is the best comic film of the summer, but I can\'t. There\'s much to like and there's no doubting director Guillermo Del Toro's enthusiasm, but the film suffers from a lack of restraint.
In HBII: TGA the faerie kind Nuada revives the the indestructible Golden Army to put the greedy humans in their place. We find the B.P.R.D. team has become more cohesive and family-like than the first movie despite fights between lovers Hellboy and Liz Sherman. Eventually the team is drawn into a showdown. Along the way, we soak in some steampunk flavor, learn a little more about Hellboy's prophecy, see Liz make some hard decisions, and witness Abe belt some tunes.
As Guillermo Del Toro said in the Q'n'A after the advance screening, "This one is about monsters." There's no shortage of monsters here, and Del Toro proves he has the love and the skills to bring them to screen. Del Toro wisely stuck to practical effects rather than CG whenever possible which especially pays in the form of the delightful Mr. Wink.
Throughout, HBII: TGA treats you to a fantasy wish list of nods to Harryhausen, Celtic mythos, Chinese wu xia films, Japanese kaiju movies, etc. and generally pulls them off with a hitch. The Strings-like opening flashback, which came about for budgetary reasons, is absolutely stunning and shows how constraints can make art better.
And while the first Hellboy movie (and the comics) are paced well and maintain a balance between horror and humor, it's here that HBII: TGA loses its way.
Several of the funny moments attempt to be downright zany which don't match tone of the rest of this film, or the previous one (I hold that franchise films in an arc should maintain an overall tone. Perhaps this is unreasonable). And the pacing early on is also rough. It felt like we were stutter stepping from gag to action piece and back without much thought.
It isn't until the Elemental appears that the we get a shot of really powerful character work.
But the real kick in the yarbles is Johann Krauss. Visually, he is better than the concept in the comic. Character-wise, Del Toro and Mignola made some really sharp changes that worked perfectly, but then we hear his voice. Here's where the restraint should have come in: just because you can get Seth McFarlane (The Family Guy), doesn't mean you should. In McFarlane's hands, Krauss's voice becomes a reject from Hogan\'s Heroes or Top Secret.
HBII: TGA\'s best moments are better than the first film, but watch out for the rough patches. In the future, I hope Del Toro will pay more attention to his inner editor a little more, rather than giving it a muppet.