June 30, 2008

"NERD-VANA":

LAFF Review: Hellboy II: The Golden Army (James Rocchi, Jun 29th 2008, Cinematical)

[H]ellboy II has more than a little heart to it; it's scrappy and self-aware, and never out of touch with what it is. Adapting Mike Mignola's post-superhero retro-styled comic series Hellboy for the second time, writer-director Guillermo del Toro corrects some of the mistakes of the first Hellboy, makes a few mistakes of its own, picks itself up, keeps going. And, on the way, knocks the back of your eyeballs for a loop. [...]

Is Hellboy II all sound and fury, signifying nothing, or, worse, nerdiness? Quite possibly, but it's got the heart that the slick Wanted lacks, the brute you can root for that The Incredible Hulk didn't quite give us, and more geeky slapdash fun than the shiny-fast Iron Man and a better mix of effective story and special effects than Speed Racer -- and if Hellboy II signifies nothing, well, at least there's a hell of a lot of it. Like all sequels, Hellboy II's a bit overstuffed, but I can't also say what you would lose; the fat provides a lot of the flavor. And I never felt transported to another world or invested in the characters past their four-color surfaces, even as del Toro's sights and wonders put me in a lookitthat! state of nerd-vana. And the finale sets up places to go for the series, even if it doesn't conclusively make us crave that; as much as del Toro's the only man for that hypothetical job, I'd rather see him making his own films, which is part of why I'm so unenthused by the prospect of his version of The Hobbit. I don't know if I need a Hellboy III, but Hellboy II feels like a summertime comic-book movie that doesn't want, or need, to be a blockbuster movie and instead simply and sincerely succeeds as a great matinee.

Zemanta Pixie


Posted by Orrin Judd at June 30, 2008 11:24 AM

I am totally looking forward to seeing this film. And I loved the first one.

Posted by: Twn at June 30, 2008 12:06 PM

Twn said it all.

Posted by: Patrick H at June 30, 2008 1:00 PM

When I was a kid (1970's), I loved comic books. I am not into them today, I have grown in some areas of my life (I'm sure my wife would disagree).

In so far as movies go, I like the idea of superhero movies; however, the execution of Marvel and DC comic superheroes on the big screen has been a disaster. For example, the Batman movies (Micheal Keaton to Georgie Boy Clooney to Val Kilmer) were horrendous. Although the Spiderman movies haven't been terrible, I think they are vastly overrated. I recently saw on DVD the Batman Returns and I thought that it was rather good.

That brings me to Hellboy (or as I like to tell my pre-teen girls, Heckboy). I guess Hellboy began in the 1990's and is a new comic. I really like the first Hellboy movie and I thought Ron Perlman did a great job (I think he is a pretty good actor).

After seeing the latest Indiana Jones movie, I need to see at least one good new movie this summer, perhaps it will be Hellboy II. I've been renting all the Kurosawa samurai movies, so at least I'm seeing some good movies this summer.

Posted by: pchuck at June 30, 2008 1:23 PM

pchuck, the first Hellboy comic came out in 1994. It is not published continuously. Instead, stories are done as separate mini-series, usually 6 issues in length, but sometimes as few as two and there have been several one shots and 5 page back up stories. The franchise has grown so that in addition to Hellboy, there are separate titles for the BPRD, individual members like Abe Sapien and now even the pulp hero Lobster Johnson.

For the past year, there's been near an issue every month if you count all the titles (not typical, during the '90s when Mignola both wrote and drew, you might get one series every other year.) All of them are written, or at least plotted by creator Mike Mignola although unfortunately he no longer draws the issues.

Hellboy has his origins as a quasi super hero, but the titles are definitely part of the horror genre, not superheroic. Mignola is able to blend many different influences very well. So he can do Grimm fairy tales, Lovecraftian horror, Victorian ghost stories, folktales, pulp adventure, and modern horror, but they all fit.

If you like the movies, you may want to rent the animated DVD's which are also very fun. But the comics themselves though can be very dark. The BPRD title, which has become the main driver of the setting, is involved with events which are clearly associated with armageddon. You may want to start with some of the earlier trade paperbacks, some of which are carried by libraries. Seed of Destruction was the first, followed by Wake the Devil which deals with a vampire hunt. The Right Hand of Doom and The Chained Coffin & Others are collections of shorter tales some of which are very fun.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at July 1, 2008 12:53 PM
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