Film review: Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), directed by Guillermo del Toro
In the 1950s, Professor Broom (John Hurt) reads young Hellboy a story about the Elven King (Roy Dotrice) and how the Faerie Realm fought the humans in days long gone. The King’s son wanted a Golden Army to be created, to win over the humans, and the King agreed.
However, the Golden Army was so devastating that a truce was called. The humans would dwell in cities and the Faerie folk in the woods. The crown that controlled the army was split into three parts: two for the Elves, one for the humans. The Prince went into exile, swearing he’d be back when his people need him the most.
Modern day America, and the piece of the crown is up for auction, but Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) interrupts the auction and takes what is rightfully his. Because of the supernatural creatures he’s left to wreak havoc, Hellboy (Ron Perlman) and his team are called in to deal with it. However, Hellboy is tired of the boss (Jeffrey Tambor) always telling him what to do, and decides to make a public appearance that really can’t be explained away.
To control him, a highly skilled operative, Johann Krauss (voiced by Family Guy‘s Seth MacFarlane) is called in. Not that the son of the Devil and the ectoplasmic entity get along very well – which is also what you could say about Hellboy and Liz (Selma Blair), who are now a couple. It’s not easy being in a relationship …
Following a lead, ending up in the Troll Market, Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) encounters the Prince’s twin sister Nuala (Anna Walton), who has the third piece of the crown and is trying to keep it away from her brother. Will Hellboy’s team be able to keep the vengeful Prince Nuada from awakening the devastating Golden Army and destroy the humans?
After the initial fairytale to young Hellboy, we’re transported to somewhere underground, modern day, where a long-haired bloke with impressive abs is practising his moves. If this is pretty much the opening scene, no wonder it draws fangirls. And fan art. Lots and lots of fan art.
If you then take into account that Nuada isn’t so much a villain but an anti-hero, it’s no wonder the guy has such a devout following. That’s the thing, first time I saw it, I couldn’t help but feel a slight “hah!” at a certain event, because my sympathies were fully on the side with the renegade Prince. Second time around, I did notice the baddie tendencies more, but the fact still stands – Nuada isn’t evil. He perceives a very real threat to the lives of his people and he won’t just sit idly by and wait for humans to wipe out all the Fae and destroying their habitat. I’m totally with him on that. Humans are an incredibly destructive species, and it’s a wonder we’ve made it this far.
So aside from thinking the make-up and scenography is amazing, I really enjoyed the Troll Market. We played a Goblin Market in our Changeling game some weeks ago, so to see what one of those actually looked like was great fun. If I had seen the film before we played that, I think I would’ve done a bit more with it. But never mind.
The story is good, although now, I wasn’t very convinced by the Abe/Nuala pairing, and Liz/Hellboy annoyed me a bit, but it got better. Manning needs to lighten the fuck up, and Krauss with his superbly haughty matter-of-fact voice … guh. Aside from that, The Golden Army is a very enjoyable film, and there are so many things set up for a third film, but that probably won’t happen. I have my fingers crossed for a prequel set in Bethmoora instead. Then maybe we’ll find out what Nuada really meant with his “Father always tried so hard to shield your heart from mine”.
4.6 out of 5 tooth fairies.