Showing posts with label SELMA BLAIR. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SELMA BLAIR. Show all posts

Friday, August 29, 2008


Another in the string of comic book movies released this summer, Hellboy 2 had my interested piqued the moment I heard it had begun shooting. I loved the first film, not only for its fidelity to the source material but also for the wonderful, stylized world that it created. It was a story of loss, redemption and unrequited love that had a deeply human center to all of its characters, no matter how bizarre their outer appearance.

Hellboy 2 begins with the same cast and a much higher budget, but strangely does nothing to reintroduce these characters and their inter-personal relationships. Much of the angst the created the conflict of the first film has been replaced with a theme of undying love and devotion, wound in and around a convoluted plot of the man-made versus the natural, or in this case, the magical.

The sub-titular “Golden Army” is introduced in a magnificent prologue, told as a bedtime story to an adolescent Hellboy. Much like the CGI Hellboy “baby” in the first film, this attempt to show Hellboy at a more innocent time in his growth is off-putting at best and il-conceived. However, the entirely CG rendered fable is stylized to remind of Harryhausen stop-motion and works wonderfully, setting up the main conflict in the plot and the threat of the Golden Army. Unfortunately the film never pays off the setup satisfyingly.

Essentially, an ages old war between the land of faire (elves, trolls, dwarves) lead to the initial decimation of faire. The Elven king had the dwarves create the golden army, and it laid waste to the human population. Overwrought with guilt, the elven king agreed to a peace accord with humanity, and locked away the army, with man promising to stay in the cities and leave the forests to the faire.

Centuries pass, and mankind continues to expand and encroach on nature, destroying in order to develop. The agreement has long been lost to human memory and the son of the immortal faire king challenges for the thrown, in order to begin the war anew.

This is the over-reaching driving force of the film, stopping the golden army. Unfortunately it is burdened by many themes that are strong enough to be the main plot. Hellboy seeks to step from the shadows and gain acceptance in the human world, driving a wedge between him and his girlfriend Liz. She considers them all freaks, though she is the only one that looks human, and wishes her love and acceptance were enough for him. This Liz is a radically different character from the introverted, conflicted woman afraid of herself to a powerful pro-active ass-kicker. The change is so radical it is as if Selma Blair is playing an entirely different character and it feels shoe-horned into the plot. A second prevailing theme is the fall of nature against humanity, and how that all that is special and magical about the world is being exterminated, that the dreams and nightmares of man are being expunged. Again this in and off itself is a theme that could have drive then entire movie, but this mishmash of purpose leads to some spectacular set-pieces but a drunken staggered pacing and lack of clarity.

The climax undercuts the symbolism of man against nature as it takes place in the ancient forge where the golden army, creature of metal gears and pipes, driven by magic (and apparently geo-thermics) lie dormant. Nature embraces technology in order to prevail over man as the army is activated.

Unfortunately the massive spectacle hinted at in the prologue is left mostly off-screen as the army is briefly battled, but then ignored as the final battle will be between Hellboy and the Prince for control of the army. The ending is essentially a literal deus ex machina.

One can only anticipate a longer director’s cut to be released on DVD as this film feels like it has been truncated, but in all the wrong places.