Hellboy II: The Golden Army
by Rick Villalobos
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It is a marvelous thing to believe that a man or a woman dressed in spandex can save the world. Sadly, that belief only lasts until we run out of comic-book pages. Superheroes have come a long way since Batman and Wonder Woman. Today, characters come in different shapes and sizes. Capes no longer define what is super, and ethical decisions are made by the not-so-tame of heart. Those protagonists of old are gone—overshadowed by the new heroes of the moment, who are clad in an abstract mesh of colorful costumes and snazzy titles.
A demon—a red-skinned creature with a long tail, horns, and fiery eyes—summoned to earth by a Nazi occultist: Anung un Rama—or Hellboy—is the newest superhero from comic-book publishers Dark Horse Comics.
The world of make-believe, of fantasy, of fairy tales and of comic books merge to tell the story of a golden army. Controlled by a golden crown and led by the king of the elves—a ruler called King Balor—the golden army defeats the humans in a war for complete power. Fast-forward… King Balor is ashamed for his heartless pursuit of his enemies and proposes a truce. The elves inhabit the forest and humans inhabit the city. The king’s son, the ruthless Prince Nuada (Luke Goss), vows to take back the world that is rightfully his. The golden army lays dormant. Fast-fast-forward—Hellboy (Ron Perlman) and his team must protect the human race from the evil prince and prevent the reawakening of the golden army.
Director Guillermo del Toro and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola have written a screenplay that any kid or manchild would enjoy. Hellboy II is a fairy tale jam-packed with the senseless action of a Hollywood film. Once again, director del Toro creates a world that is haunting and realistic enough for the big screen. Although this film is skillfully shot, the plot drags itself across a number of comical scenes that are entertaining but redundant. Still—fans will cheer and newcomers will join in.
This is a film that features a superhero with a unique personality (much like my Uncle Norton when he is drunk); he is not just a run-of-the-mill champion with a dark past to overcome. He is the average demon who happens to have a deep affection for cats and Mexican beer and protects the world from the bad guys—making him into a great movie.
Rick Villalobos is a writer and film critic in Chicago.
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