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February 4th, 2008:
The mythical world starts a rebellion against humanity in order to rule the Earth, so Hellboy and his team must save the world from the rebellious creatures.What to Expect: Guillermo del Toro
has become one of the hottest directors in Hollywood after he hit gold with Pan's Labyrinth
. He is now signed on to direct both Hobbit
movies and in the running for the seventh Harry Potter
installment, but life was not always this good for Toro. Before Labyrinth, Toro had directed Blade II which enjoyed great success both domestically and abroad. Then del Toro decided to pass on the third Blade movie so that he could make his dream project: Hellboy. Hellboy is based on the little known Dark Horse comic of the same name which features the title character who is a demon that fights to protect humanity from other super natural adversaries. The movie opened to mixed reviews but did manage to earn 100 million internationally and turn a significant profit. del Toro was not disheartened by the mixed results of Hellboy and was eager to keep the franchise going. Unfortunately, fate had other plans for him: Revolutionary Pictures, Hellboy's production company, went under and del Toro was forced to leave his dream project and move on to do Pan's Labyrinth. Then in 2006, with Labyrinth gaining steam, del Toro became a hot commodity. He used his new found fame to start shopping around Hellboy II. Universal Pictures eagerly picked up the project and gave the director a much bigger budget and unprecedented creative control. Del Toro was grateful for the trust and money that Universal invested in him. He worked tirelessly to improve on what worked in the first Hellboy and get rid of what did not work, as well as applying some of the lessons learned while making Labyrinth. Hellboy II looks like it is going to elevate the franchise from a campy cult favorite into a solid summer blockbuster. Article continues below
One of the biggest things that people did not like about the first Hellboy was that the characters were so outlandish that they ended up looking silly and unbelievable in the context of our world. Del Toro really wanted to redefine the story by taking these characters out of our world and placing them into a new mythical one where they would not seem so out of place. This was a huge departure from the original where Hellboy was fighting monsters and Nazis in the sewers and catacombs of our world. This deep departure from the original was not well received at first. Even Mike Mignola, the comic's creator and the movie's co-writer, was at first opposed to the idea. As del Toro put it, "Mike was quite horrified by how much I had deviated from what we had talked about, especially at some of the quote, unquote whimsical elements, the parts about magic and the fairy world.
" That was until del Toro sat him down and screened Labyrinth for him. Mignola saw the parallels between the two movies, eagerly agreeing to allow his heroes to also reside in Pan's alternate reality.
Hellboy II is going to start out a year after the first one left off. Hellboy is now living with Liz (the first ended on their first kiss) like any "normal" couple and the two continue to work as a team for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Development. One day a sword wielding elf and a troll attack an auction house and Hellboy goes to battle them. The media documents the battle and Hellboy becomes an instant celebrity with all the problems that come with fame. Meanwhile, the BPRD discovers that this was no ordinary robbery. The elf, named Nuada, is actually the prince of the elves who is tired of having humanity controlling earth and intends to restore the mythical creature's dominance. His plan is to collect the three pieces of a crown that will enable him to raise the Golden Army, an invincible robot army constructed by the goblins. Meanwhile, the government gets worried about Hellboy's growing popularity and appoints Johann in charge of the BPRD to reign in Hellboy. Johann is actually an ectoplasm who needs to wear a special suit to keep from dissipating into nothing, but this fact does not stop Hellboy from suspecting that Johann is trying to move in on Liz. They obviously do not get along, but must still work together to stop Prince Nuada. Hellboy and his team must descend into the underworld to try to stop the prince and his mythical allies from acquiring the last part of the crown which is held by Nuada's twin sister, Princess Nuala. The sister does not agree with her brother and wants to maintain the balance between the two worlds. Hellboy and his team must protect her and defeat Nuada and his monsters, elves and evil fairies.
Well the first question I had after reading that synopsis is: Do I want to see Hellboy fighting elves and fairies? To answer this question we must first understand that these are not the benign children's characters of modern fairy tales. Instead, del Toro dug deep into Celtic mythology and found that the roots of many of these creatures are not as nice as they are today. He took these original images and built on them to create his signature "creepy" brand of scary. The second question I had was: The story has changed so much, are the characters going to change? Well the answer to that is unfortunately no. I found that the wise cracking Hellboy was not very funny and his relationship with Liz was nothing more than an annoying Hollywood cliché. However, a lot of people actually really liked that side of the movie. From a plot standpoint I guess it is also necessary to make Hellboy seem more human, because without his corny jokes and relationships, very little would separate him from the monsters that he is fighting, but I still think too much time was spent developing these aspects of the hero. Del Toro actually realized this, but felt that he needed to really develop the characters in the first one. In the new installment he is actually going in with fully developed heroes and can now focus his attention exactly where he wants to: action! The movie is just packed with it, battle after battle, like a five story tall tree elemental battling Hellboy on the Brooklyn Bridge, Yokai spirits rampaging in Tokyo, a dragon attacking Moscow, and that's before Hellboy even goes to the underworld.
With all of these changes, one thing remained the same. Del Toro brought back most of the cast and crew who worked with him on the original film. Ron Perlman
is back as Hellboy and Selma Blair
is back as Liz. Then the hardest working man in Hollywood you would never recognize, Doug Jones
, is also back. Jones appeared in numerous movies where he is always dressed in costume and his character is voiced over. He was the Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four 2
, fawn in Labyrinth and Abe Sapien in Hellboy. He will reprise this role in the sequel but unlike the first one where David Hyde Pierce did the voice, Jones will do his own. The character of Sapien will be much more involved in this movie and he will even be given a love interest. Jones will also play the parts of The Chamberlain and The Angel of Death.
It was very good that the cast and crew were so familiar with the content, because the shooting schedule was one of the most grueling I have ever heard off. The film shot for eighteen hours a day for six straight months. This is due to del Toro's obsessive attention to detail. He claims that this meticulous nature is what made Labyrinth so good and he intends to do the same with every movie from now on.In Conclusion:
It looks like the coupling of del Toro and Universal is going to pay off for both parties. Universal gave the director a large budget and creative freedom and in return Universal is going to get an action-packed blockbuster franchise all its own. There are already rumors circulating that the third Hellboy is in the works and that it is going to incorporate Universal's staple characters including Frankenstein, Dracula and Van Helsing, so stay tuned.Similar Titles: Pan's Labyrinth