Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Universal, 2008) D: Guillermo del Toro, w/ Ron Perlman, Selma Blair. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NNNN
Hellboy II is a disappointment, particularly on the small screen.
Mostly that comes down to weak story. An elf prince (Luke Goss) seeks the artifacts he needs to launch a war against humanity. Meanwhile, Hellboy (Ron Perlman) and his girlfriend (Selma Blair) are at odds because he wants everybody to like him. The big story feels slapdash - off-the-rack supernatural menace; and the personal story is unconvincing and underdeveloped. Neither story has any impact on the other.
Director Guillermo del Toro fills his screen with wonders and marvels, particularly in the Goblin Market scene, but they're not all that visible on the home screen, even with liberal use of the freeze-frame and zoom functions. The image is dark, and everything goes by too quickly.
Clearly, del Toro is delighted with what he's done. His tour of the Goblin Market and highly entertaining commentary are filled with his pleasure at discussing his visual sense, influences that range from symbolist painting to Mad Magazine and his love of fantasy. Keep an ear open for his explanation of how he's undercut the typical superhero movie. It's clever, even if del Toro is wrong about its giving him a better movie.
Doug Jones brings back his wobbly grace as Abe, Hellboy's fishy sidekick. He's a joy to watch and a perfect complement to Perlman's appealingly gruff Hellboy. Their drunken duet is the movie's highlight.
EXTRAS Director commentary, cast commentary, eight on-set segments. Widescreen. English, French, Spanish audio and subtitles.