Posts Tagged ‘Hellboy’

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

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I lurve Hellboy. I just want to hug him and squeeze him and tell him he doesn’t have to be the apocalyptic destruction of the universe if he doesn’t want to, I don’t care what that nasty baba yaga says. Josh, Keli and I headed out to Southside Works to check out the second movie yesterday. I have to say I went into this one with some reservations because of the trailer and, well… I’ll get there in a second.

To start out, we’re introduced to a legend via a 1940’s era Professor Bruttenholm bedtime story to a young Hellboy: long ago there was a war between humans and magical creatures (fairies, trolls, etc). The humans were winning by a landslide. In an effort to change the outcome of the war, the Elf King Balor has the trolls construct the Golden Army, 4,900 strong and indestructible. This new army annihilates the humans, without remorse or mercy. The King, horrified at what he has allowed, forges a truce with the humans — they will keep to their cities, and the magic creatures shall have the forests. The Golden Army is hidden away, and the crown that controls it is broken apart.

Fast forward a few hundred years. Hellboy and the rest of the BPRD (that’s the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) are called to the scene of an artifact auction gone horribly wrong — the place is nearly destroyed and there’s no sign of the 70-some guests that signed in. After a few devoured agents, toasted tooth-fairies and general mayhem, things get interesting. Word on the street is that Nuada, King Balor’s son from way-back-when is still miffed about daddy’s truce and has decided to reassemble the crown, track down the hidden Golden Army and destroy all of humanity with it.

But don’t worry. The BPRD’s on the job.

The movie is definitely worth seeing. Casting is perfect, save Abe’s voicing. Effects are excellent. The writing’s good — Mike Mignola, Hellboy’s creator, and Guillermo del Toro, the director, did a nice job. Costumes, choreography, animation, all that good stuff: great. Nuada does a bunch of crazy fighting stuff, even if he does back flips to do the job two steps backwards would do; and it’s weighted well enough (I hate obvious wire work). The creatures were righteous. The tooth-fairies were in classic Mignola fashion, and I enjoyed the Elemental and the tumor-baby. And this dude? Awesome.

And here’s the part where I become the picky, snobby fangirl.

It was too fantasy for me.

What’s that, Rachel? Don’t you write fantasy novels? That’s kind of hypocritical, don’t you think?

Okay, okay, but here’s the thing. Hellboy is horror. Horror. True, the stories are often based in various world mythologies and folklore; but this was too Lord of the Rings in present day New York starring Hellboy for my tastes. Blet. Even subtracting the heavy fantasy element, the dialog didn’t have the punch of the first one. I should have pooped my pants in awe when the Ruins Rock Dude sat up, but I didn’t. I wouldn’t have wished for another fight with Sammael, but the first movie had a gritty urban aspect that made me forgive it for its minor shortcomings. This one… there’s not as much of a buffer.

And to round out my griping: the young Hellboy? I commend the kid for trying through the prosthetics, but c’mon. And I’ll reiterate how much I missed David Hyde Pierce as Abe. Doug Jones did a fine job, but ever since hearing Pierce, his is the only voice I can attach to Abe… when I read the comics, it’s him I hear in my head.

Now. All that being said, I did enjoy it. Really. I promise. It just fell a little short of my hopes and dreams, which were probably too stupid super high to start out with. Usually when I see book-to-movie translations, I can separate the two stories, but I think I was too close to the source material on this one. Ultimately, it was still written by Mignola and had the guy’s creative force all over, so it definitely gets a thumbs up. This means yes, I will buy the extended DVD box-set of the movie… and I’ll worship it because that’s what fangirls DO.

“You’re in love. Have a beer.”

“Oh no. My body is a temple.”

“Yeah? Well, now it’s an amusement park.”

“We’re the Ones that Bump Back…”

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

There are a few things that I will go straight up fangirl over. Hellboy is one of them.

Hellboy movie posterJosh spent much of the weekend hibernating against our awesome 20-degree weather, so I popped in the Hellboy movie while he sawed logs on the couch. First off, let me say this: I know it’s not the perfect movie. The graphic version of Seed of Destruction is superior in several ways (the greatest of which is the fact that Sammael doesn’t resurrect fifteen times and we have to watch them battle him over and over. And over.) But it is so much fun. The casting is perfect. No one but Ron Perlman could play Hellboy — playing a giant red demon-man toting a giant stone hand and covered in runic symbols would be impossible for anyone else to pull off. Doug Jones and (the uncredited) David Hyde Pierce are an impeccable Abe Sapian. And even my reading brain didn’t translate Professor Trevor Bruttenholm as well as John Hurt did.

The thing that makes this movie enjoyable for me is the execution of taking the world and story from paper to live action. Hellboy’s creator, Mike Mignola, worked very closely with del Toro to make the creatures and environments rich and believable. I think they do a beautiful job of it — the set of Bruttenholm’s study and the Russian graveyard are especially beautiful in my opinion, and Kroenen and Sapien really are very fantastic. With three discs, the Hellboy special edition is also¬† one of the most extensive bonus features DVD I’ve ever encountered and offers HOURS of yummy documentation of what went into making the world come alive. (Rivaled in size and detail only by LOTR box sets — 7 discs. Yowza.)

Hellboy graphic novelMignola’s Hellboy is a fascinating character. While I am not usually a huge fan of horror in other fiction, I love it in Mignola’s dark, boxy style and the humor he injects into the stories is a nice balance between the gore. I generally love the ‘refusal of destiny’ arc in stories anyway, and throwing in the impending apocalypse via the hero is right up my alley. Combine it with lots of dark folklore, disturbing occult conspiracies, heaven vs. hell, and the whole what makes a man thing — I am one happy camper.

Visually, Mignola’s art is more than drool-worthy. He has an unmistakable style: heavy shadows that can cover an entire page but still insinuate there is so much going on; angular, sometimes abbreviated shapes that lose nothing from their incomplete execution; character designs that challenge your base knowledge of mythological figures (like the stone, iron-maiden goddess Hecate, anyone?); action and framing that is clear and dramatic. And his paintings make me cry tears of jealous, reverential JOY.

JOY!

“Look, Sammy, I’m not a very good shot… but the Samaritan here uses really big bullets.”