Monday, September 15, 2008

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

I've been known as a furious defender of the first Hellboy film. Even as far as name it the best superhero film ever second only to Batman and that's only because I love Batman. Reasons aside, whenever I heard someone bashed Hellboy, I would revert to my grumpy self and childishly ignored whatever else that come out of that someone's opinion about films. Yes, childish, I know, but as far as I'm concerned, I hadn't yet proved to be wrong on attributing such ignorance. When I know a someone who said that s/he doesn't like Hellboy, even feeling bored and fell asleep on the occasion, I would later found out that s/he is indeed has a pretty crappy taste for films. Thus, my ignorance is justified.

Hellboy is sort of an anti-hero, much like Batman in his best of days (what is Batman's best days, you ask? Well, the death of Jason Todd is one, or when Barbara Gordon got shot). From that alone, you know I loved him already. He swaggers and swaddles, fought with such confident and humor that Spider-Man should had but largely absent in the films, and as many superheroes does, his life is sucks but does he moors and grieves? Peter Parker did, but not our Red-beast from Hell and damn you, if you can't love that. Elizabeth Sherman, as portrayed by Selma Blair remains the best female-sidekick in superhero film ever. She's not the kind of a mere sex-slash-lust object (point-in-case, Kirsten Dunst), nor is she an insignificant figure, largely forgettable and exist just for the sake of an existence (point-in-case, Katie Holmes), she is a character with a full-arc and honestly, the closest female character to her that I could think about was perhaps Margot Kidder in the original Superman film.

And then there's Guillermo Del Toro. He has created a niche for himself as a director with a penchant to create a fantastic fantasy creatures.

Therefore, when the full crew is back four years after the first film for a sequel, you know I wouldn't want to miss it.

Hellboy II: the Golden Army is further established Del Toro's niche in creating fantastic creatures. He redefines the Elfs, brought forth from their origin as a beautiful and slender beings to a still beautiful being but with a certain edge. A sharp and terrible edge. I can't help to think about Dark Elf in Blizzard's cosmology of role playing games when Prince Nuada and his sister appears on screen and my, the Prince sure can move in a beautiful way. He also redefines the Tooth Fairy, and populated the screen with other fantastic creatures from the pages of role playing games and fantasy literature universe. However, be as it may, I loved the first film better. The sequel is great though, still great, and I had a really good time, but this time, if I heard someone bashed it, I would forgive him/her and won't go as far as ignored his/her subsequent comments in film and thus able to appreciate our difference in taste. That's how I feel about the first film and this sequel.

Hellboy II starts pretty much the same as many other adventure films (as well as the first sequel). It starts with a flashback sequence that provides a backdrop to the story. A legend said about the legion of indestructible Golden Army, all seventy times seven of them. The army was made by the goblin (an established fact in almost all fantasy world that the goblin race is very very good with machines) for the King of Elf to fought against human. Know no passion, no loyalty, and no remorse, the King of Elf deemed this army is way too dangerous to fall into anyone's hands. Mortal or Elf. Thus, he ordered for a truce and that the golden crown used to command this army be separated in three. Prince Nuada, the King's son, disagreed with the King went into exile. Time passed, and what once was a history turns into legend that turns into myth and even long forgotten. Until a day when finally Prince Nuada returns from his exile and planned for an all-out attack against us, human that has defiled the Earth and of course, the fate of our beloved civilization lies on the shoulder of individuals behind B.P.R.D front-runnered by Liz, H.B, Abe, and one particular weirdo which for the sake of your viewing pleasure, I won't reveal here.

Once, I had a theory. When you're talking about adventure films, making a sequel it's easy. In the first film, you laid the foundation and the origin of the main players of the adventure while in the second film, as you don't need to introduce the characters you could simply built upon the foundation and have some fun. Hellboy II did everything fun-related right. The action-packed sequences works (if you asked me, Hellboy vs Prince Nuada hand-to-hand combat is almost at the same level of entertainment with Jackie Chan vs Jet Li hand-to-hand combat in The Forbidden Kingdom. Well, at least it was WAY better than Jet Li vs Michelle Yeoh hand-to-hand combat in The Mummy 3. Plus, I noticed no slow-motion during the sequence which is very very nice. Gosh, I HATE slow-mo) , the tension-relief sequences were enjoyable most of the time (with one exception scene which I found awkward and quite unnecessary in my opinion), and you could easily guess and feel that everyone in this film is having fun in reprising their roles. Given the direction, had I stretched far enough, I could understand if some casual viewers said that they enjoyed this film more than its predecessors. But of course, I stand my ground, I praised the first film more. The atmosphere of the first film is just, right. It's tighter, and it flows more smoothly than its sequel. Further, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, in my opinion, suffers from two major plot flaw revealed at the end of the film. Of course, I was too excited to gave it more than a frown and a hum but, the flaws are there.

My rating: *** / **** - In Indonesia, the Summer season ends with a bang. Hellboy II: The Golden Army is sure going to pleased many movie goers here considering the quiet post-summer season. However, entertained and pleased as I was, I couldn't help myself but to compare this film with its predecessor and I had to say that I enjoyed the former film a bit better. Also I found surprising, the film has an unmistakenly cheerful atmosphere but it certainly doesn't shy away from deaths and killing (usually, for this kind of film with this kind of atmosphere, the good guys should NEVER get killed on-screen. Off-screen, maybe, but never on-screen. Example, Indiana Jones' original trilogy). Personally, I felt that it doesn't seem right.

Digg this

No comments: