HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY: DVD
After an ancient truce between humankind and the original, fantastic creatures of the Earth is broken, all hell is about to break loose. The anarchical underworld Prince Nuada (Luke Goss), has grown weary of centuries of deference to mankind. He plots to awaken the long-dormant golden army of killing machines that will return what belongs to his people; all magical creatures shall finally be free to roam again. Now, only Hellboy (Ron Perlman) - with help from his pyrokinetic partner Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) can stop the dark ruler and save the world from certain annihilation.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Guillermo del Torro's cinematic vision - or more accurately, visions - conjure up a spectacularly vibrant, varied, detailed, freakish, magical, surreal and exciting universe for this sequel to Hellboy (2004).* Fans will be thrilled by the expansion in weaponry, wizardry and fantasy as Red chomps his way through his favourite cigar as he dispatches the bad guys. Those of us who are not part of the Hellboy fan club can marvel at the sheer invention, energy and fun that del Toro manages to cram into 110 minutes.
The story is straight out of Fairy Tales Volume 1; in the mists of time, humans and the non-human, fantastic creatures of the earth were forever at war, until a truce was negotiated. This truce included the lock-up of the golden army, 70 times 70 mechanical warriors who were deemed indestructible. The owner of golden crown controls them, and the old king's son, Prince Nuada (Luke Goss), has had enough of truce and wants to reclaim the earth, destroying the humans in the process - with the help of this golden army.
It's a story the child Hellboy hears from a book read to him by his adoptive father (John Hurt), not knowing that in his adult life, he would come to realise it is not merely a fairy tale, but deadly fact. By this time he has married the fire-freak, Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), and is enjoying some domestic turbulence when we join them, mid-squabble. Retaining his signature sense of humour, del Toro gives most of the characters a greater dimension through humour.
Ron Perlman continues to breathe recognisable life into Hellboy, complete with antipathy to washing up, addiction to TV, beer and cigars. Exactly what the target market is into ...perhaps with the exception of the latter. Selma Blair is likeable as his squeeze, and the strangely dressed Professor Johann Krauss (voiced by John Alexander and James Dodd) who is sent to take control of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence where Hellboy resides (along with other creatures) somehow evokes character without enjoying the advantages of a head with eyes and other facial features used for human communication. Likewise Doug Jones, who voices life into the extraordinary and endearing aquatic creature, Abe Sapien, who develops a special relationship with Nuada's twin sister, Princess Nuala (Anna Walton).
Shot on Hungarian locations and studio sets, the film blazes with practical (as well as digital) effects and physical detail; in the spectacular troll market scene, for instance, there are some 170 dressed extras (ranging in freakiness from intriguing to jaw dropping), even though only half a dozen or so interact with the principal characters in the scene. It's indicative of the depth of detail del Toro pumps into the film, resulting in a rich, multi layered experience of the kind we humans attempt to enjoy with our eyes closed while mum or dad reads us a fairy story. Except the music is much bigger.
*Footnote: Hellboy's first adventures were published by Dark Horse Comics in 1994. Guillermo del Toro's debut as a feature film director came a year earlier with the critically acclaimed horror film Cronos, starring Ron Perlman as the thug in search of an immortality device.
Blu-Ray special features include Director's private notebook, comic book builder, My Chat and U-Control interactivity.
Published March 26, 2009
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HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY: DVD (M)
CAST: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Luke Goss, Anna Walton, Jeffrey Tambor, John Hurt, Brian Steele,
VOICES: Seth Mac Farlane
PRODUCER: Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Mike Richardson, Joe Roth
DIRECTOR: Guillermo del Toro
SCRIPT: Guillermo del Toro, Mike Mignola (comic by Mignola)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Guillermo Navarro
EDITOR: Bernat Vilaplana
MUSIC: Danny Elfman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Stephen Scott
RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 28, 2008
SPECIAL FEATURES: December 26, 2008
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
DVD RELEASE: December 31, 2008