If you liked Guillermo del Toro's previous films (The Devil's Backbone, the first Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth) you'll love Hellboy II: The Golden Army, a veritable phantasmagoria of the fantastic, a vertiginous clockwork faerie tale wonderland that only del Toro could have conceived and created. Carnivorous tooth faeries, steampunk ogres, great, five-story tall verdant forest gods and a mechanized clockwork army populate this wonderfully imaginative film. Del Toro brings the best parts of the first movie, the humor, the blue-collar work ethic, the characterization, and adds these incredible creatures and big, vibrant, colorful set pieces and action sequences. Have you even seen a ninja elf? Hellboy II's Prince Nuada would make make Legolas seem like a slow, slogging dwarf.
The story of The Golden Army is steeped in Grimm's faerie tale magic. Long ago, Man warred with the enchanted woodland folk, you know, elves and faeries, etc. And after a bitter defeat, the elf king commissioned the building of these huge golden mechanical warriors, fueled by magic and nigh-indestructible. After laying waste to the human army, the elf king, much to the dismay of his son, the aforementioned Nuada, felt great anguish at the death and destruction the war had wrought, and so he put the army to sleep and divided the magical crown that controlled it into three pieces; one he gave to the humans, one he kept for himself and the third piece went to the king's daughter, Nuada's twin sister, Nuala, after Nuada went into self-imposed exile, vowing to return, to take control of the Golden Army and to finish the war with the humans once and for all. Which is where our story begins. The prince has returned and Hellboy and company need to stop him from wiping out mankind.
Returning as our blue-collar, beer-chugging everyman demon hero, Hellboy, is the ever-lovable Ron Perlman, along with Selma Blair as the chronically tormented love of Hellboy's life, the pyrotechnic Liz Sherman, and Doug Jones as Abe Sapien (providing his own voice this time - no more voice work by Frasier's David Hyde Pierce). Jeffrey Tambor also returns as the hilariously befuddled director of the BPRD, Tom Manning, and joining the team this time around is everyone's favorite ectoplasmic German psychic, Johann Kraus (hilariously voiced by Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane).
This is what a big summer action movie should be, funny, action-packed and simply gorgeous to look at. I want to see it again just to take in all the great creature designs and sets. This was definitely one of my favorite movies so far this summer, right up there with Iron Man and Wall-E (neither of which I ever did get around to writing reviews for, did I?)