Sunday, July 13, 2008
Now I'm Scared of Toothfairies. Thank you, Hellboy II
The first thing I want to get out of the way is, Ron Perlman acts better and more naturally in full-body make-up than many people do buck-nekkid. He invests Hellboy with a physicality and wit that make him fun to watch whenever he's in a scene. The character, Hellboy, is a fascinating blend of dark impulses and good impulses--he's a demon. He's destined to wreak havoc on the world. He likes kitties and seems to be a romantic and he watches a lotta tv.
There could've been a little more Hellboy in this movie.
We are given a longish exposition in the beginning via a flashback scene with an immensely-toothed young Hellboy, who is told a story about the Golden Army by his adoptive father as a bed-time tale, with the action depicted as puppets. (Because Hellboy liked Howdy Doody? Which had to do with present day what? Not a totally great device.) But you know what? "Boy Hellboy" ain't Ron in the suit spouting quips and toting the big gun. And that's where you start to notice--this is not your typical summer action/funny flick. This isn't Hancock. (No, but I liked Hancock, I'm just saying this is different.)
What this movie gave in abundance, though, was strangeness, from the locust-like people-eating swarms of toothfairies to the underground veritable pandemonium of odd creatures Hellboy and co. meet, greet and beat, to the oddly Moorcockian (can that even be said?) elvish twins, Nuala and Nuada. Guillermo Del Toro, whose Pan's Labyrinth had that same stamp of abundant fertile creativity, has an affinity for the curious and a feel for poignant moments, like a kind of movie-pausing epiphany when Hellboy's smiting of a gigantic Beanstalk-like nature godling unleashes a moment of--sheer visual poetry.
He lags a little in evenness and what I'd call "typical action-movie pacing", though. The movie is tight, but it dwells on Abe Sapiens'(Doug Jones--who is touching and awkward and also does a good job in animating this character--an aquatic telepathic teammember) deep, sudden, immediate love for the imperiled Princess Nuala, who is a "Corsican twin" to the bellicose Prince Nuada, the villain. The characters of Nuala and Nuada could have used a little more depth--she's good, he's dangerous; the details are otherwise sketchy. This doesn't take anything away from the action, and the outstanding visual effects.
The story could've been more--but the movie is still fun to watch because of the wild and woolly action. The fight scenes near the end rock. If you like big visuals and the odd little moments of characters interacting in awkward fun ways (damn, I found out after the fact that the voice of the ectoplasmic Johann Krauss was none other than Seth McFarlane--the "Family Guy" dude, who sounds a little like American Dad's Klaus--did I ever mention I love Seth McFarlane? Like seriously, it's a fact and Family Guy is exactly what my lack of attention span and pop-culture appetite totally gloms on?) Oh, and Jeffrey Tambor is in it. I like him. He does subtly weird humor well. Oh, and Salma Blair is kind of uptight but alright as Hellboy's (you heard it here, preggers) girlfriend.
I'd call it a good movie because the cast and the visuals and the action are all there. Little things could've been done better, but I'm just a summer action movie ho.