Sequels have a rough deal... if they're not as good as the original they get slammed, if they go in a different direction from the original they can get slammed, and if every little thing isn't just how you remember it from the first movie... well, you get the idea.
I'm not sure how I feel about Hellboy II: The Golden Army given that it definitely falls into the latter two categories. And I'm still undecided about how it fits into the first category.
I like the first Hellboy movie, I do... it's not rocket science, but it's very enjoyable and some good old action packed fun (and I watched it again on Sunday).
So like I said, I'm not sure about the sequel.
It's enjoyable, don't get me wrong... but while the first one feels more "comic booky" this one really has all the stamps of a Guillermo del Toro movie. The first one had that flavour in spots, but this one seems to pull out all the stops... if I had to compare it to the del Toro movies I've seen, I would say that it would sit alongside Pan's Labyrinth quite comfortably... it's not as intense, but the fantasy stuff is probably on a par.
The plots for many of these "comic book" movies are never particularly brain teasers, you always know who's going to triumph in the end (and sometimes you're fairly sure you know how they're going to do it) since their name is usually the movie title, so what's more important is that there are some good moments along the way. And there are... one that springs to mind is a bout of drunken singing.
There was just something about this movie that felt more removed from reality than the last one... whether it's because they delve more into a mythical world that runs alongside (and underneath) the real world. And yes, I realise the first movie had clockwork assassins and immortal Russians and tentacle things, but it felt more "grounded" than this movie somehow.
Maybe it also feels less "action" than the first one... which is weird, because when I stop and think about it there are probably as many action/fight scenes in both movies, it just doesn't feel as "actiony"...
It is a beautiful looking movie though... there's a scene towards the beginning that actually takes place inside an derelict shopping mall, but I had to remind myself that that was what it was, because it could not look more like a strange, exotic palace.
As far as the cast goes, it's pretty much the same roll call as last time (with a couple of notable exceptions)... Ron Perlman is great under a ton of latex as always... Selma Blair is still irritating, but not quite so wimpy this time around... Jeffrey Tambor proves that there was a reason he was in the first movie in small doses... and Luke Goss pulls off another del Toro villain with quite a bit of style (and still manages to be sexy and weird all at the same time once again)...
But I still have something of a crush on Doug Jones as Abe Sapien (yeah, I know it's twisted, but he's all fishlike and graceful and stuff). Perhaps not as much this time around, the character is slightly less mysterious and gets more screen time... added to the fact that Jones gets to voice the character himself in this movie, whereas last time David Hyde Pierce did the voice duties (and perhaps a little bit of where my crush came in... it was the perfect voice for the character). That's not to say that Jones doesn't do a good job, he's fairly spot on, but it's kinda not the same (not that I blame him).
The movie does spend a bit of time setting up a possible third movie, and given where we're left at the end of this one... but I have to say that it's a movie I would quite like to see...
And while I'm still not sure if it's better than the first one, I think it manages to hold it's own.
yani's rating: 7 tooth faeries out of 10