Hey folks, Harry here... I haven't had much sleep recently - given that Convergence had me dozing at 5am, 7am, 6am and 4am on consecutive nights - with early days after each.... and today was no different - getting about 5 hours, and now it's 4:35am and I'm just getting home from this wondrous night. I'll work to compose my thoughts about the film later today, but HELLBOY 2 is all at once joyous, wondrous, stunningly beautiful, melancholic and funny... and somehow the tones all work together. There's just one scene that felt odd to me, but I'll talk about it in my full review. Suffice to say, I'm heading to see it again Friday - mainly so my sis and nephew can see it, but also because I missed a key sequence due to my ass dilating to deposit a few fecal rocks and waiting on a guy to get out of the stall. So let's get to these fan reviews... Up first, we have - The Beef
I remember two years ago when all the talk about PAN'S LABYRINTH was spreading around and how brilliant it was, that the focus of all the praises seemed to be placed on the fantastic elements, of which there turned out to be a fairly minimal amount in the film overall. Everyone was talking about how incredibly imagined the fantasy world was and how beautiful and frightening the Fawn and Pale Man were, and the talk really got the expectations I had steered in the wrong direction. The film IS excellent, but the word of mouth going around was that it was a great fantasy film, and yet there is very little visual fantasy flare in the picture. HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY is in many ways the film I was expecting to see when I walked into PAN'S LABYRINTH. This go around Hellboy and his colleague of freaks, Abe Sapien (The man-fish with a keen intellect) and Liz Sherman (The flame girl with the key to Big Red's heart) are on the hunt for a prince in the hidden world of mythical creatures who is hellbent on starting a war against mankind. The story goes, as told to Hellboy as a young demon child on Christmas day, that a long time ago a war was waged between mankind and another realm of creatures. In the process an indestructible army of soldiers were built by the creatures and were controlled by the Woodland King. The King opted to end the bloodshed and called for a truce between the two worlds, and in the process chose to split the crown which controlled the Golden Army into thirds, with one piece going to the realm of mankind and the creature realm retaining the other two pieces. While the crown is incomplete the Golden Army will remain dormant and peace would exist between the two civilizations. Now, with the Prince of the Woodland King dissatisfied with the creatures' place in the modern world he aims to ressurect the Golden Army and put an end to the truce. The first thing that really grabbed my attention while comparing this film to the first HELLBOY was a real sense of family between the three lead characters. The first film focused on Hellboy's father/son relationship with the professor, with Liz and Abe feeling like colorful secondary characters. In this installment there's a more apparent kinship between the three, helped along by the fact that Hellboy and Liz are actually an item and are in the stages of learning each other's faults and getting on each's nerves. Abe, playing the mediator to the couple, is also given a hefty amount of material which is a much deserved reward for Doug Jones. Having spent the majority of his career behind masks or suffocated in plaster his character really has an arc for Doug to sink his teeth into, and he pulls off a touching performance without using the expressiveness of anything above his lower lip. There's even an uncommon level of depth given to the Prince Nuada character in terms of villains, because it's rather difficult to label him as an actual villain. He's really an extremist willing to do whatever's necessary to fight for what he believes to be right, and it just so happens those beliefs conflict with Hellboy's profession. In his own mind Nuada's actions are justifiable which really grabs sympathy from the viewer, even though he resides on the side wanting to kill us all off. I found myself siding with his beliefs in fact, but disagreeing with his methods (but only because he would want me dead). There's also a more developed level of playfulness in this picture over the last one. The jokes, of which there are many, seem to flow more naturally and peak at a sequence where Hellboy and Abe share some brewskies while venting about female troubles while listening to Barry Manilow. The introduction of Johann Krauss, a German ectoplasmic smoke being, as the new team member will also invoke many a laugh from the audience thanks in no small part to the voice talents of Seth McFarlane. Lastly, I was quite impressed with the action sequences of HELLBOY II, and I think this may be where I noticed the biggest improvement in Del Toro's filmmaking cannon. With HELLBOY and BLADE II being the only two films Del Toro has done that involve any hightened action sequences I really noticed a much more fluid fight choreography in this film, and I think some better editing to the action sequences overall making them feel more lively. I didn't think Ron Perlman toting around a gigantic hand could make a more active and enjoyable fight with Luke Goss (Prince Nuada) than Wesley Snipes against the same actor (Goss played Nomak the head Reaper in BLADE II), but the almost sixty year old Perlman benefited from a more elaborate set piece, a choreography willing to utilize it to its fullest, and a camera that captured it all much cleaner. All these points being made, the real star of this show is without question the imagination that went into the sets of the creature realm, and the creature designs. Looking at the different beasts in HELLBOY II was like, for me, looking at the lovechild of Stan Winston doing a Clive Barker project. The creatures are incomparable in their odd originality, and the last time I can recall seeing a similar effort was Clive Barker's NIGHTBREED. Each monster is a species unto itself, and none of them resemble each other in the slightest. The troll market set and its inhabitants will probably be remembered amongst the more creative accomplishments in fantasy film. HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY is a lot more of what made the first film good with a helpful dose of the stuff that makes Del Toro's smaller and more personal films great. There's a sharp focus on character, and some troublesome questions that arise more than once during the movie. There are certain elements and decisions that may come in to play in the event of a HELLBOY III, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing how they play out. Thanks, The Beef
Wow - sounds pretty awesome, eh? Well it is! Here's Ben with the next look...
Hey Harry, Ben here, thanks again for helping me get into the screening, you helped make it one of the best nights of my life! Thought I would send along my review to help in any way I can to get as much attention toward this wonderful film as I can...(not that it needs it) SPOILERS: Hellboy 2 is a fantastic film, pure and simple. It has balls, it has heart, it will make you cry, cheer, and probably get a boner. It's awesome like Ninjas are awesome. That's the short version... HB II starts off with a wonderfully realized, and unique prologue explaining the origin of the Golden Army and the fairy worlds war with mankind. A stirring sequence realized with beautiful marionettes and Danny Elfman's muscular, angry and beautiful score sets the stakes for the rest of the film, setting up both the importance of the Golden Army in the world of men, and Hellboy's possible future connection to it. The young Hellboy was a sight to see, very cool...we get to see the purity, sweetness and closeness he had with his father and it's simply awesome. The opening credits are masterful, and feature a doom-flavored Elfman epic against the clock-work fire-gears of the Goblins as they create the Hellboy 2 titles in flame and steel. Moving on, we are introduced to Nuada, who is played to perfection by the always great Luke Goss. Wink is fricking amazing, and never once did I doubt his reality in the film. The opening scene in the auction house is powerful and hilarious and sets up Liz and HB's relationship struggles for a nice payoff at the end. Abe gets more screen time and Doug Jones does wonders, not only voicing the character brilliantly, but creating a physical brilliance that tops even his first performance as the fish-stick. Many incredible set pieces follow, including the amazing Nuada kills everyone scene, the Troll Market (which is as good as you hear, even better actually), many great scenes with McFarlane stealing the film as the stiff, hilarious and oh, so German Johan, and a finale that is the equivalent of freebasing millennium falcon dust whilst on a Hawkman rocket cycle listening to Slayer. There are many scenes that will make you laugh your ass off, a few that should make you cry if you have any heart at all, and an exciting glimpse of the stylistic and visionary genius that Del Toro will be giving us in the Hobbit. (Wait until you see the Irish Goblin and the underground city, you will be wishing the Hobbit came out tomorrow) I got to meet Mike Mignola who was awesome, Del Toro, and Doug Jones who were frankly 2 of THE nicest, most classy people I have EVER met. A night for the ages! Thanks Harry, Guillermo, Doug, Mike and to the Drafthouse! Ben
Lastly - we have The Brain Machine
I'll keep this short and sweet. This movie kicks all sorts of ass. It is beautifully made, laugh out loud funny, and I can't believe that Universal wrote the check for not only every dream Guillermo Del Toro had for it, but my dinner too. Have I been paid off to tell you it's a fun night at the movies? You're damn right. Call me a plant if you want, but Hellboy 2 delivers. If you liked the first film, you are going to have a great time. This movie feels, looks and acts like the best of sequels. It takes what worked for the first one, and steps it up two or three notches. You can see where every penny of the budget was spent. It was spent on making a movie that geeks will love from beginning to end. The sets, and monsters on display here are wilder that you can imagine, and a true joy to experience. Guillermo Del Toro is unique in his ability achieve the visual acrobatics on display here. Yes, there is CGI used - of course. But there is also a lot of truly great puppetry, and animatronics used to perfect effect. The way fantasy film making should be done. So many directors today rely on CGI - It becomes a crutch. Here you can feel the reality of the monsters, and their environments. There is no real need to go into story specifics. It's Hellboy. There are good guys, and really nasty bad guys who want to destroy our world as we know it. Hellboy kicks their asses. If that's a spoiler - so be it. We have the introduction of a few new characters - Johann Kraus - an ectoplasmic entity that is truly fantastic to watch, we see Hellboy as an adolescent, we see Hellboy and Abe Sapien drunk on Tecate singing a Barry Manilow song (WTF?? - it is funny as hell) and more original creatures than I have ever seen in a film - ever. The film was followed by a very funny, and informative Q&A with Hellboy writer and creator Mike Mignola, Del Toro, and creature master Doug Jones. I have to say, Guillermo Del Toro is one of the funniest guys I have ever heard talk about film. He has a masterful use of the word "Fuck" and has created a frightfull drink called a "Muppet" that was shared by The Alamo Drafthouse's Tim League and another (un)fortunate audience member. They will have a sweet hangover tomorrow - and enjoy every minute of it. In the Q&A, Del Toro touched on many aspects of the filming of Hellboy 2, scenes that never made it into the film (an extended underwater battle with Abe), and the god auful scent of the set durring the "Troll Market" sequence (a truly magical scene that alone deserves you $10). Del Toro also hinted at the fact that Bruce Campbell could be appearing in Hellboy 3 as Lobster Johnson - depending on this weeks box office, of course. For those video gamers out there, Bruce apparently does voice Lobster Johnson if you are fortunate to unlock that character at the end of the game... very cool. Unfortunately, not a lot of Hobbit news. Casting has yet to be decided. I was surprised how few Hobbit questions were asked... almost as though people did not want to jinx anything. Thank you AICN, The Alamo Drafthouse, Universal, Doug Jones, Mike Mignola and of course Guillermo Del Toro. It was a truly fun, classy evening. The Hobbit is in fine hands. If you have any doubts, they will vanish after seeing Hellyboy 2. A truly great continuation. Bottom line is - If you were a fan of the first Hellboy movie - you will not be disapointed. Go see it this weekend so we can get more! Bring on Hellboy 3-D! I am The Brain Machine.