Guillermo del Toro returns to helm this second in the Hellboy franchise. Ron Perlman is back as Hellboy, while Selma Blair and Doug Jones also reprise their roles as Hellboy’s girlfriend Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien respectively. The plot is fairly simple: mankind and the elves used to be at war. The king of the elves had an army of “70 times 70” indestructible warriors (the titular Golden Army) created to win the war, but saw the horror of what created and called a truce, locking the Golden Army away. Now his son Nuada (Luke Goss) has returned from exile, and is determined to continue the war against the humans by reawakening the Golden Army, leaving it up to Big Red and Co to save the day.
Ron Perlman is great as Hellboy, perfectly grasping what the character should be about, while Selma Blair gets more room to manoeuvre this time out. Doug Jones has a wonderful turn as Abe, and the puppy love that develops between he and Nuala is very sweet, if a little underdeveloped. Always threatening to steal the show, however, is Luke Goss as Nuada, turning in a wonderfully nuanced performance that rightly leaves us feeling sorry for him, rather than disliking him. The fight scenes are also wonderfully choreographed, displaying an almost balletic quality that makes them truly entrancing.
Where Hellboy truly excels, however, is in its creativity. The sets are nothing short of wonderful, containing a depth of detail and creativity that would put the Lord of the Rings to shame. The troll market is particularly wonderful, and makes one wish that one could explore it in more depth. The creativity of the creatures is particularly impressive, displaying the level of creature creativity that has become del Toro’s trademark, rivalled only by the Jim Henson Company. I spent much of the early part of the film marvelling at the intricacies of Abe’s breathing apparatus, and wondering why other films aren’t so detailed.
However, this is almost the problem with Hellboy. It’s a beautiful film, with any one scene containing a level of raw creativity that exceeds the sum total of the entire Insert-Genre-Name-Here Movie franchise. However, and it pains me to say this because I really enjoyed the film, the plot simply isn’t that strong. It’s not bad, not by any stretch – it’s just not great either. And that’s a real pity, because it means that Hellboy is merely a good film, rather than a great one.
Supremely creative, but let down by an average plot, yet absolutely worth the watch. B.
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