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.