Get in a discussion about comic-book movies and someone will indubitably bring up this theory: Part one of a comic-book movie anthology is always just OK; the series peaks with part two; and in part three (usually the final chapter) everything falls apart. (Think X-Men, Spider-man, and Superman). Hellboy II only furthers this theory. Part one, though visually sensational, delivered a weak jab in terms of its story, characters, and writing. But its sequel connects with a mighty punch, delivering everything you could possibly want from a summer blockbuster and more.
Hellboy II takes the fantastic make-up artistry, creature creation, and set design that we grew fond of in Pan's Labyrinth and combines all of these elements with mindblowing CGI and stunning choreography. The script this time around is sharp and witty; you'll be laughing for most of this movie (which is good, because Hellboy II would look silly if it took itself too seriously). Most importantly, the movie contains some of the best (i.e., least-fake-looking) action sequences I've ever seen in a comic-book movie, and lots of them, too, which makes it even better than Iron Man, its biggest summer contender next to the upcoming Dark Knight. Article continues below
Even the chemistry between the characters seems to have improved this time around. Hellboy (Ron Perlman
) and Liz (Selma Blair
) have been living together for some time, and their relationship is on the rocks. Liz's icy stares are enough to make it clear she's unhappy about something. (Just what exactly we don't know, but that stare is something most of us guys can relate with.) The couple occupationally fights supernatural creatures alongside Abe (Doug Jones
), a slightly annoying but tolerable alien who can perform ESP -- and apparently pregnancy tests -- on whomever he touches. Hired to lead the team is a mysterious Johann Krauss (voiced by Seth MacFarlane), a cocky and seemingly omnipotent ball of gas residing in what appears to be a funky space suit.
The team stumbles into a mission to save the world (and they're so damn nonchalant about it), and... let's just leave it at that for plot summary: The story isn't all that intriguing, but all in all the movie's a fun ride with enough spectacular visuals and clever gags to keep you engaged. I've never said this about any film, but in Hellboy II's case, the visuals alone make the movie worth watching on the big screen.
My only minor complaint about the movie was that after the first 10 minutes or so, Liz does virtually nothing in terms of fighting enemies. In some scenes, she awkwardly stands around with a pistol that you know will be useless against the team's demonic foes; she looks like a token, attractive female character. But at one point we learn Liz is pregnant, and perhaps I can accept this as a justification for her idleness: Her super power is to self-combust, and that can't be good for the baby, right? At least to compensate, Hellboy pummels the hell out of a ton of foes with his gigantic, bell-shaped fists, and the impressive choreography makes these scenes more interesting than they sound.
Now we can only pray that part three doesn't make the Hellboy saga another example of the what-goes-up-must-come-down theory prevalent in comic-book movies. But after Guillermo del Toro
proved his brilliance with Pan's Labyrinth and then this film, I'm hopeful he'll be able to break free of the part-three curse.