Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

directed by Guillermo del Toro

Hellboy II: The Golden Army poster  
The second Hellboy film skirts Lord of the Rings territory with a story that features elves, trolls, and an ancient war. In 1955 the young Hellboy is told the story of the Golden Army by his adopted father. It's a tale of a long war between elves and men, followed by a truce which held elves to the forest and mankind to the cities. The king of the elves, Balor, decided that his Golden Army was too dangerous ever to unleash and hid it away, breaking up the crown that is the key to commanding the mechanical troops.

The elves have a certain wooden aesthetic going on, with skin that's cracked like the bark of a tree and branch-like growths sprouting from the head of the oldest amongst them. However there's nothing wooden about the way Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) moves. He leaps around as fluidly as water, making an elaborately choreographed dance as he practices his swordplay. Nuada may be easy on the eye and striking to look at, but he's a renegade who despises the greed of humans. He's prepared to unleash some very nasty creatures on people in order to get what he wants.

At the Bureau of Paranormal Research, Hellboy (Ron Perlman) is causing a stir thanks to his inability to keep a low profile. Not that he's trying very hard. His relationship with Liz (Selma Blair) has entered the phase of constant bickering, and their arguments can be messy and destructive.

The couple are sent to look into the chaos left by Prince Nuada at a Manhattan auction house, along with Abe Sapien (Doug Jones). Although they find out a few things, the expedition brings Hellboy into the public eye, blowing his cover entirely. Tom Manning (Jeffrey Tambor), a man from the Bureau, brings in a fourth member of their team, much to Hellboy's dismay. Dr Krause (James Dodd) is even stranger than most, literally a bag of wind in a suit, and he likes to do everything by the book.

The group go looking for a troll market, hidden under the Brooklyn Bridge. From this point on the effects become increasingly extravagant. Although they are recognisably troll-like, these trolls are quite unique, and you wouldn't mistake them for creatures from a different film. Throughout Hellboy II: The Golden Army we are treated to fantasy creatures and monsters with a new look, or which offer up a new spin on old legends. The tooth fairies are unexpected, and the stone giants are also a nice touch. Visually it's a splendid movie.

What often happens with big-budget films is that great effects and frenetic action scenes take the place of a good story, especially during the latter half of the movie. Fortunately this one manages to keep a balance. The characters are faced with a choice between saving their love, or protecting the rest of the world. And as outcasts and freaks, they begin to wonder whether they are really fighting on the right side of this conflict.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army goes for a big, moving ending that touches on the melodramatic. This is excusable mainly because of the humour that runs through the whole story. Hellboy and his friends have a wry, cynical outlook and it's their jokes and barbs, as much as the innovative monsters and the elegant wire-fu of Luke Goss, that make this movie stand out.

Film Details

Year: 2008

Categories: Films


Classification: 12

If you like this, try:

Constantine cover    

Constantine by Francis Lawrence
John Constantine struggles to avoid the clutches of Hell and solve a supernatural mystery.

4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Guillermo del Toro

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