“Hellboy II: The Golden Army” – Susan Granger reviews

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Another week, another comic-book superhero movie. But this one is different.

Back in 2004, before he made “Pan’s Labyrinth,” wildly imaginative writer/director Guillermo del Toro introduced Mike Mignola’s Hellboy (Ron Perlman) to the screen. Born in the flames of hell and brought to Earth as an infant to perpetrate evil, Hellboy was rescued from occult Nazi forces by Dr. Trevor Broom (John Hurt), who made him into a crime-fighter and defender of the human race.

So when the cat-loving, cigar-chomping, Tecate-swilling Hellboy is summoned by the elite, top-secret B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) in Trenton, New Jersey, he and his sarcastic, pyrokinetic (and secretly pregnant) girl-friend Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) must battle the Underworld’s ruthless Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) with his lumbering troll henchman, Wink (Brian Steele) and the fantastical 16’-tall robots who comprise the Golden Army.

At Hellboy’s side are the half-fish/half mammal aquatic empath Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and the officious protoplasmic mystic Dr. Johann Krauss (John Alexander/James Dodd, voiced by Seth MacFarlane), along with perpetually flustered B.P.R.D. agent Tom Manning (Jeffrey Tambor) and Prince Nuada’s twin sister, ethereal Princess Nuala (Anna Walton).

“Mythology and folklore have always been present in ‘Hellboy’ comics, and we didn’t go there in the first film,” Mike Mignola notes. “So instead of Rasputin, Nazis, mad scientists and H.P. Lovecraft-type stuff, we went for the supernatural.”

Among their most intriguing, creepy creations are the dainty-but-deadly Tooth Fairies, who ravenously devour calcium, and the plant-like Elemental, standing 70’ tall after water activates its growth. And their Troll Market evokes memories of George Lucas’ iconic “Star Wars” Cantina.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” is a chaotic yet spectacular 7, a dark fantasy/horror tale.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.