When the Hellboy movies were rendered by Guillermo Del Toro from comic book to the big screen something went missing, not just the stark shadowed lines of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, but its original dark spirit. When Mignola’s Lovecraftian universe is rendered into CGI and made Hollywood family friendly, it turns into a fantasy version of Men in Black, all jokes and special effects, but no suspense or soul. When you consider Del Toro’s other films, it’s odd how plastic and upbeat his Hellboy movies are, and Hellboy II The Golden Army is as plastic and upbeat as any of them.
Suffering from CGI-itis, Del Toro seems unable to let a single frame of film go by without splattering it with CGI as if he were possessed by the spirit of George Lucas. Hellboy II The Golden Army boasts a virtual CGI bestiary from great to small, but like all CGI it’s slick, unreal and disconnects the viewer from believing in the reality of what is taking place on the screen. Set in a New York City we barely see, Hellboy II The Golden Army drifts through cliched banter while following a disconnected plot that seems to exist only to foist one CGI spectacle on us after another. The visuals are gorgeous as are the sets, but there’s little life in Hellboy II The Golden Army.
Ron Perlman as Hellboy and Selma Blair as Liz Sherman going through the motions of a bad sitcom relationship are trite, and only Abe Sapien’s love for Princess Nuala has a spark of heart to it, but is painfully short on development. Hellboy II The Golden Army assembles a good cast and wastes them on one cliche after another. Hellboy II The Golden Army assembles some very elaborate CGI and makes it the center of the movie pushing the characters off to the side. Just as in the first Hellboy, Guillermo Del Toro never manages to bring the stark interwoven spirit of Mike Mignola’s creation into the room, a creation that easily mixed pulp comics and Lovecraft. Instead Del Toro creates another empty and expensive visual spectacle that suffers all the more by comparison to The Dark Knight, a movie in which the characters genuinely struggle over something, while in Hellboy II The Golden Army they struggle to get to the end of the CGI ride.
As both writer and director Del Toro must take the credit for blowing a second Hellboy movie and for failing to make a live action Hellboy that is even half as good as the animated films were. Instead Del Toro delivers a lifeless and family friendly Hollywood product, chock full of cliches and devoid of anything remotely dark or scary, let alone compelling. For a movie that begins by promising to remind us why we used to be afraid of the dark, Hellboy II The Golden Army instead reminds us why were afraid that Hellboy II would fail as badly as the first Hellboy did.