Shiny Shelf

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

By Mark Clapham on 13 December 2008

Having failed to mention Guillermo Del Toro’s second ‘Hellboy’ movie on its cinematic release, we can’t let it’s debut on DVD drift too far into the past without comment – and indeed endorsement.

‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army’ is fantastic in both senses of the word. Having established the film versions of Mike Mignola’s characters in the first movie, Del Toro broadens his canvas in this follow-up with a film that has more action, more imagination, more whimsical humour.

Del Toro’s main shift is the deepening of the fantasy elements, taking the sense of a fragile, ornate otherworld from his far more serious ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and adapting it to the more robust environment of a big summer action film. There are some striking images, settings and characters, with a great sense of craft and design – a couple of set-pieces measure 2.6 Mos Eisleys in terms of the busy, living detail squeezed on screen.

If the first movie was a little safe, carefully setting up its characters and concepts, the sequel is positively reckless – there’s slapstick, singing and silliness mixed in with moments which aim to be taken seriously, and Del Toro gets away with those shifts in tone. The movie also has the most beautifully delivered bit of expository back story ever – I’m not saying how they do it, but you’ll know it when you see it.

‘Hellboy II’ is a real charmer, as witty and imaginative a summer movie as you’re ever likely to get. You don’t need to have seen the first film – the concept is recapped neatly at the start of this one – and as such it’s highly recommended to all newcomers as well as those familiar with the character. Then again, as well as the usual one-disc, two-disc, and blu ray options you can buy a very nice looking steelbook with both ‘Hellboy’ movies together, so that’s an option as well.

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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