Let me start by saying that I’m a fan of the Hellboy comics, mostly for the look, the sparse dialogue and the beautiful and atmospheric was in which it’s presented. About the only thing that really made it to the big screen, in my opinion, was a little of the dry humor of the comics. I don’t really think you could pull it off without the movie being a different kettle of fish.
And it is a different kettle indeed. One that I consider not much like the comics, but certainly as close as you can get. Hellboy, for a start, was always too small in the movies I thought.
Hellboy II, though, is certainly better than the first. It looks better, the interactions and characters are better. It certainly feels like what would happen if you gave Guillermo del Toro a stack load more money to do the job.
Hellboy II focuses on a myth covered in the opening sequence of the film. In ancient history man and elf fought bitterly, until the elves built an army of mechanical warriors and slaughtered the humans. Regretting what he did, the king of the elves splits the crown that controlled the army, gave part to the humans and put the army to sleep. But the prince at the time didn’t agree with the choice (of course).
I think the villain of the piece, Prince Nuada, does a decent enough job and perhaps one of the more poignant scenes of the movie involves him. As Hellboy stands on brink of killing a huge forest god, Nuada calls to Hellboy saying that it is the last of its kind. Hellboy’s choice is to be with them (the supernaturals) as a ruler, or with the humans as a follower.
It’s a cool scene, with an obvious conclusion. The idea of Hellboy’s conflict between human and supernatural, and his want to be accepted by mankind is a little ad nauseam in the films however. There’s as much of that conflict in this film as there was in the first. Perhaps more.
The supernatural element shines bright in this film. Where the first was about machines and Nazis, this one is entirely about fairytales. One might look scornfully on this one and compare it to Pan’s Labyrinth. The fact is that Guillermo del Toro creates some outlandishly wonderful fantasy creatures, and there are buckets of them in this film. Perhaps the best of his creations in this film is the Angel of Death.
The plot is rather by the books (Prince Nuada gets the army, Hellboy and friends stop the army and stop the Prince) with enough cool side interactions to keep things fun. There’s plenty of cool fight scenes, but the coolest thing probably is the creatures of the piece. The introduction of Johann Krauss to the cast is an amusing addition and only adds to the weird bunch of characters that are the B.P.R.D.
Will there be a third? This film is a solid continuation from the first, and hints that Hellboy will have to confront and deal with the fact that one day he is fated to destroy mankind. Having said that, del Toro himself has said that he’s not sure there would be a third. Either way, one could almost watch this stand alone and enjoy it, and there doesn’t feel like there’s a need for a third.
Not the Hellboy of the comics, but with Mignola (the creator) on board with the films, I can hardly decry them. Check this film out for the visuals, but stay for the fun fairy tale of it all.