Oh, Guillermo del Toro!
Hellboy II picks up mostly where the first left off. The paranormal team is still fighting the good fight sans Harry, who was shipped to Antarctica, and a new member comes aboard. Johann Krauss is a German ectoplasmic man in a steampunk looking suit and he’s a stickler for rules and regulations. Naturally, he and Hellboy don’t get along well.
In other parts of the world, Prince Nuada of the elves has returned from exile with a mission — to unite all the pieces of a long forgotten crown broken apart in a truce between elves and humans in order to reawaken an indestructible Golden Army. As fate would have it, Hellboy and friends are the only ones who can stop Nuada from extinguishing the human race.
I don’t know if there’s another director out there who can top Guillermo del Toro, who directed this, the previous Hellboy movie and films like Pan’s Labryinth, Blade II and others, for flawless style. Del Toro’s films are almost always jam-packed with rich and stunning sets with laborious details.
Hellboy II is odd because it’s an inviting action/sci-fi flick. It’s filled with warm reds and golds as well as these crazy sets and creatures that del Toro dreamed up.
Beautiful, striking features only carry you so far and that’s where Hellboy II stumbles. The story is nothing new or inventive, of course, but the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Blah Blah Blah is so tiresome, so banal that you wonder why the camera lingers with them for so long. Selma Blair’s Liz Sherman gets a new haircut and some new power control but remains the same wishy-washy sort of girl from the first movie. Hellboy obsesses over Liz but refuses to do dishes, griping about it all the way. Abe Sapien has a childish crush on an elven princess. These stories are engineered to make an audience feel receptive or sympathetic but all they do is grate on one’s nerves.
The slog through the boring character arcs is worth it for the gorgeous visuals; no expense was spared on special effects and sets and it shows. If Hellboy II had reached a little higher on the characters, it could have been much better, though.