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Hellboy II: The Golden Army


Stars: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Luke Goss, Doug Jones, John Hurt, John Alexander, James Dodd, Anna Walton, Jeffrey Tambor, Seth McFarlane, Brian Steele, Andrew Hefler, Ivan Kamaras

Director: Guillermo Del Toro

Red-faced, wisecracking, cigar-smoking (which, given the current contempt for smokers, should probably have qualified him as the villain rather than the hero) Hellboy – played with infectious gusto and impressive makeup by Perlman – returns to action, along with several of fellow oddball residents of the top-secret Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence, to save Mankind from the eponymous army which, placed in suspended animation aeons ago, is about to be revived by evil Prince Goss in a splendid sequel which benefits visually from the clearly far larger budget allocated to Del Toro for this follow-up.

The set pieces – notably the awesome battle between Hellboy (who juggles a baby while winning the day) and a giant multi-tentacled ‘forest god’ that erupts into a city street hurling cars everywhere, including at a helicopter, plus an attack by swarms of flesh-eating ‘tooth fairies’ – are genuinely impressive, as is the makeup that creates Hellboy and company. Perlman, in particular, makes his character, henpecked by self-igniting partner Blair because he refuses to tidy up, wash the dishes or control his pack of cats that overrun their living quarters, quirky and entertaining, and Tambor as the token human trying to ride herd on the Bureau’s strange characters is good value.

Hellboy II, filled with exciting action, is hugely impressive visually, and one of the most entertaining of the recent comic-book/superhero movies to hit the screen. That it should be directed with such obvious box-office appeal is a real tribute to Del Toro who convincingly makes the leap from artfilm favourite (Cronos, Pan’s Labyrinth) to major mainstream moviemaker.

Alan Frank

USA/Hungary 2008. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by deluxe.
120 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 17 Aug 2008