Hellboy II: The Golden Army (12A)



Action (2008)
119mins US/Ger

Starring: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Luke Goss, Anna Walton, Jeffrey Tambor, John Hurt
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writer(s): Guillermo del Toro
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Prince Nuada searches for the three shards of an ancient gold crown, which grants the wearer the power to control The Golden Army: hundreds of unstoppable fighting machines buried deep within the Earth. The final piece of the crown is in the possession of Nuada's sister Princess Nuala, who intends to thwart her brother's plans for world domination by whatever means necessary. She seeks refuge with cigar-chomping Hellboy and his cohorts Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien, but their combined powers are no match for Nuada as he infiltrates Bureau headquarters and engineers his diabolical scheme.

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LondonNet Film Review
Hellboy II: The Golden Army

The sequel to Guillermo del Toro's 2004 fantasy, based on Mike Mignola's acclaimed Dark Horse Comics series, is every bit as fast and furious as its predecessor, melding dazzling production design with wry humour and impressive set pieces...

Ruthless leader Prince Nuada (LUKE GOSS) holds a piece of the Royal Crown of Bethmoora as his kind sister, Princess Nuala (ANNA WALTON), watches in fear in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Photo Credit: Double Negative. Copyright: 2008 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.Having sketched the origins of the characters in the first film, del Toro is given free rein in this picture to let his imagination run riot, concocting a dark and bloody fairy-tale full of trolls, goblins and a even nine feet tall Angel Of Death. The writer-director's distinctive visual style, celebrated with three Academy Awards for Pan's Labyrinth, is very much in evidence, including a swarm of voracious tooth fairies, who crave calcium and will gladly devour human flesh to extract tasty incisors from healthy gums. Children may think twice about putting milk teeth under their pillow.

A flashback to a military base on Christmas Eve, 1955, sets the scene nicely. Hellboy's saviour and surrogate father, Professor Trevor Broom (John Hurt), regales his son with a bedtime yarn about elvish King Balor (Roy Dotrice), one-armed ruler of Bethmoora, and a golden army of unstoppable fighting machines created by the goblins. "It's just a story right, pops?" inquires the young Hellboy excitedly. "Is it now?" replies Broom cryptically, "I'm sure you'll find out!" Fast-forwarding to the present day, the clandestine Bureau for Paranormal Research and Development (B.P.R.D.) is struggling to keep Hellboy (Ron Perlman) hidden from prying eyes. After an explosive visit to the scene of a massacre at an Upper East Side auction house, Hellboy and his cohorts - sexy pyrokineticist Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) and fish-man empath Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) - are propelled into the media spotlight to the chagrin of long-suffering B.P.R.D. chief Tom Manning (Jeffrey Tambor).

The world's toughest, kitten-loving superhero, Hellboy (RON PERLMAN), and his girlfriend, pyrokinetic Liz (SELMA BLAIR), search for answers in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Photo Credit: Egon Endrenyi. Copyright: 2008 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.Elsewhere in the city, prince of the underworld, Nuada Silverlance (Luke Goss), grows resentful of wasteful humans and the sorry plight of his fellow creatures of the dark. He spearheads a revolution, searching for the three shards of his father's ancient crown, which grants the wearer the power to control The Golden Army. The final piece is in the possession of his benevolent twin, Princess Nuala (Anna Walton), who does not share his thirst for world domination. She seeks refuge with Abe and the rest of the B.P.R.D. but even Hellboy's famous "Big Baby" shotgun cannot match Nuada and henchman Wink (Brian Steele) as they infiltrate bureau headquarters and engineer their diabolical scheme.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army is a triumph of design. The Troll Market, secreted beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, is festooned with weird and wonderful creatures of all shapes and sizes and there is a jaw-dropping fight between the horned hero and a gargantuan Elemental forest creature on a Manhattan street corner. A brief foray to the Giant's Causeway to embellish Celtic mythology is similarly impressive, offering one possible explanation for the Irish landmark's grand name. Yet there is much more to del Toro's film than impeccable style. Perlman carries off his role with gusto, teasing out the humour of his reluctant saviour from behind the prosthetic make-up as Hellboy contends with so-called domestic bliss ("I would die for her... but she wants me to do the dishes!") Jones comes to the fore as a sensitive soul experiencing love for the first time but if there is a weak link it's Goss, who fails to convey the rage and frustration of a misguided usurper. The relationship between the cigar-chomping, kitten-loving hero and his girlfriend moves in unexpected directions, culminating in a life or death choice that poses tantalising questions for the future. "It is his destiny to bring about the destruction of the Earth. Not now, not tomorrow, but soon enough. Knowing that, you still want him to live?" proclaims The Angel Of Death. Absolutely.

- Sam Cannon


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