Thursday, August 07, 2008

Very Late Review: Hellboy, the Golden Army

I finally got around to seeing this last weekend, and I want to take some time to talk about it because it's overshadowed (rightfully or wrongfully) by The Dark Knight and Iron Man and every other comic movie that came out this summer.

I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. Unlike most of the other comic movies of the summer, this one is upbeat, funny, and tongue planted firmly in cheek. The main plot is remarkably straightforward, but that simplicity is used to undercut how much more complex the lives of Hellboy, Liz, Abe and the others have gotten. Now, the problem is that unlike the first movie, the villain is completely forgettable, but not unsympathetic, but you hardly pay attention to it as the plot zips along and you get re-acquainted with the characters and the various sub-plots and internecine dramas.

As far as acting goes, Perlman makes a great Hellboy, and with the prosthetics as they are I never once get the feeling that anything is faked, and everyone else does their job well enough, if not in anyway outstanding. The effects are clean and crisp and really really colourful, and it moves along quickly enough that there's a reasonable amount of tension and action, and a surprising amount of sentiment. This is definitely a movie that is trying to work as both action, comedy, and love story. It definitely succeeds at comedy, as any scene in which HB and Abe drink while singing cheesy 80s love ballads must.

The main complaint I hear from people is how much this movie departs from the comics, and in that respect they are quite correct. Where the first Hellboy film was Guillmero Del Toro's attempt to adapt Mike Mignola's world to the big screen, this movie is very much about Mike Mignola's Hellboy in Del Toro's world, a mythology that has more in common with Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth than the darker tones normally found in Mignola's Hellboy stories. That said, the world Del Toro constructs is one that is both familiar and strange; a colourful collection of the usual assortment of mystic and fantastical creatures, but one that is very removed from human perceptions and preconceptions of them. It's a very nice touch, and one I enjoy seeing in fantasy movies, where all too often the elves and dwarves and the like are simply humans with slightly exaggerated characteristics.

In conclusion, The Golden Army isn't the world shaking movie that other comic movies are, but it's good lighthearted fun. And that's interesting, given that the protagonist is a scary demon in and of himself.

No comments: