Hellboy II: Disappointing

Hellboy 2 is getting good reviews, and I don't know why. I went into the theater completely prepared to enjoy it, wanting to like it, and excited to see it. But in the end it was a series of beautifully rendered but disjoint fantasy vignettes that happen to be set in the Hellboy universe.

This movie was, at least in part, ruined by the excellence of it's trailers. I found myself anticipating pieces of the trailer at several points of the movie. This was a problem. Each scene was kinda ruined because rather than just watching the scene, I found myself waiting for a particular moment. It's the difference between listening to a lecture, and listening to a lecture with your hand raised. For example, when Red & Co. got their special eye pieces to see trolls, I knew they'd find that old lady troll who says "how do you see me?". When they get to North Ireland, I knew there would be a stone giant popping out of the ground. When they got to that creature with wings I knew it would have a face without eyes, but the wings would have eyes. And when Hellboy fights with that one creature, I knew at some point they would punch each other's fists.

Anyway, I really like John Hurt in basically anything, even a bit role (although he looked like he was having more fun in the last Indiana Jones flick, they wasted him I feel). Good to seem him back (in a flashback) here. Selma Blaire was looking unusually attractive. I prefered the previous movies voicing of Abe. Ron Perlman does a fine job as the title character - although I fear for the health of his skin. Does that poor guy ever get a job that doesn't involve hours of makeup before every shoot?

The script at times veered into obnoxious predictability that may delight a 12-year old, but bored me. The "romantic" scenes were particularly bad here. I've no doubt this style is consistent with the comic book, but some concession should be made to adult sensibility for a major motion picture, I feel.

There were some hints of interesting theme here regarding man vs "the natural order", but this is addressed far too briefly to actually be interesting. The plot, such as it was, revolves around an elvish plot to retake the earth from the irresponsible human caretakers using the implacable Golden Army as a tool. This offered some pleasant ambiguity about the "bad guy" - was the elven prince really that bad for wanting to take the earth back from it's irresponsible caretakers? Apart from a single, brief moment of doubt, it turns out that the prince really is that bad because freeing the earth means killing all humans. The ambiguity was resolved too quickly with without enough effort to be interesting. (The "moment of doubt" was realized when Prince Nuar unleashed a "forest elemental" to kill Hellboy, but before Red can blow the creature away, the prince makes a case for not killing it - he whispers into HB's ear that it is "the last of it's kind, like us." Of course, the Prince is really offering HB the choice between pulling the trigger and blowing a big baddie away and becoming Buddhist, and HB really likes pulling triggers, so it wasn't a smart move on Nuar's part to put HB in that situation. Of course, it might have helped if Nuar really had given Red a way out - for example, told the elemental that it no longer needed to kill Hellboy.)

It's a fun film suibtable for replay at a house part, perhaps, but I lament that it didn't hang together better and explore the nature theme in more depth.

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