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Hellboy II: The Golden Army My Reviews 22 SEP 2008

Hellboy IIDespite my protestations of being deathly sick once again (tell me that sleeping for six straight hours on a Sunday afternoon from 10:00 to 16:00 is healthy), Chantelle hauled me out and shoved me in the car and off we drove to Bellville to catch the Friday 20:15 Tygervalley premiere of Hellboy II: The Golden Army with Mr Brown.

Now admittedly Mr Brown and myself have been more than eager to catch this follow up to the raucously fun 2004 Hellboy, so much so that we had already booked our tickets much earlier in the week in order to secure the best seats in the house, for a movie showing that we were just sure was going to be jam packed.

It wasn’t.

Damn, they really aren’t lying when they say that the cinema industry is in serious trouble – I don’t know guys, maybe it has something to do with that ridiculous sum of money you charge for a box of popcorn you moegies!

Anyway, we met up with Terrance at Tygervalley (amazingly on time for a change) and after I pre-apologised for the incessant coughing that would be sure to annoy the crap out of everyone around me, we entered the darkened room and located our seats, with our Spar-purchased sweeties successfully smuggled in under the cover of one very dark handbag.

Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with Hellboy at all, basically it tells the story of a demonic boy that was rescued and raised by humans and now fights for us under the cover of secrecy and for the BPRD, the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. Essentially invulnerable, rather strong and with a large stone hand known as the Hand of Doom, this unflappable, nonchalant and cocky ‘hero’ seeks little more than recognition and acceptance – thoughing knowing that you are prophesized to destroy the world one day certainly doesn’t help.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army is directed by Guillermo del Toro (who also directed Hellboy’s first outing on the big screen) and stars Ron Perlman as Hellboy, Selma Blair as Liz Sherman and Doug Jones as Abe Sapien, all of which return to reprise their original roles. Luke Goss gets tasked with playing the ultra cool villain, Prince Nauada ‘Silverlance’.

The story revolves around an ancient pact between the humans and the mythical creatures led by the elves, a pact which has steadily brought nothing by shame to the ever dwindling mythical creatures over the past centuries. However, the outcast prince, Nauada ‘Silverlance’, can no longer just stand by and watch his people die out, reduced to living beneath the ground and wherever they can find place to hide from the ever-increasing human population and so returns to the elven council, intent of wresting power from his aging father and declare all out war on the human race. But to secure their success, Prince Nuada will need the three pieces of an ancient crown that controls the mythical, unstoppable and most feared above all, the dreaded mechanical Golden Army.

One piece lies in the hands of the humans, one with his father and one with his twin sister… and fearsomely skilled Nuada will stop at nothing to retrieve those pieces!

Of course, blatant skirmishes into the human world won’t go unnoticed for long and soon the BPRD is on the case, though the increasingly cocky Hellboy is becoming more and more uncontrollable, much to the chagrin of both Liz (who has her own secret to hide), and his BPRD handler, Agent Manning. So much so that it is time to call on a new mysterious agent who may just be enough to bring Hellboy back in line.

It’s just too bad that Hellboy does not exactly get on with Germans. At all.

I don’t know. On a technical and directorial level, Hellboy II is nothing short of a masterpiece, with a fantastic mix of live action and special effects that seamlessly melds the fantastic and the mundane, bringing to life a number of creatures and abilities the like of which may never have been seen in such detail and authenticity before.

Oh and the fight scenes. The brilliantly choreographed, fantastically executed fight scenes. Words cannot begin to describe just how fantastic these are pulled off!

All the actors give stunning, 100% performances and the story is littered with the caustic wit and sarcasm that makes Hellboy, well Hellboy. However, I do have a bit of a complaint, and that is to me the story came across very unfocused and all over the place, perhaps because it was trying to squeeze in to much in to small a space of time, leading to a film that feels rather boring and fairly lengthy in places. And on that note, I also feel that the pacing of the movie doesn’t come across quite right either, in fact suffering very much from the flaws that detracted so much for me from the otherwise brilliantly done Batman: The Dark Knight a little earlier this year.

Nevertheless, if you are a fan of Hellboy or a fan of fantastic fighting and action sequences or just like superhero movies in general, then Hellboy certainly won’t disappoint. Visually fantastic and a lengthy adventure to boot, fans will certainly not be disappointed and it is pretty easy to see that Hellboy III will most certainly come our way one day, probably a whole lot sooner than what we think!

Note: Ster Kinekor didn’t make themselves look any better by losing sound three quarters of the way in, ruining an important moment and then not bothering to even rewind to show us what we missed! Yup, yup, yup. Piracy will continue to dominate if you screw us around like this guys!

However, on a completely different footnote, even better than Hellboy II was the trailer for the upcoming Alan Moore’s Watchmen. If you know anything at all about comics and graphic novels in general, then you will surely be salivating at the prospect of one of the greatest stories ever told in the comic book medium finally making its way to the big screen – in seemingly bloody awesomeness that defies all description! :)

Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hellboy_2

Hellboy: Blood and Iron My Reviews 06 JUL 2008

Hellboy Blood and IronA long time ago, a much younger Professor Broom banded together with the local Transylvanian constabulary and brought down the infamous Erzsebet Ondrushko, a vampiress who bathed in the blood of young women and was a loyal follower of Hecate, Goddess of the Underworld.

Of course, as vampires go, permanently getting rid of them is never a sure thing and when the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD) is called in for a routine haunting in the Hamptons, Long Island, Professor Broom gets a sinister premonition and ends up taking top BPRD agents, Hellboy, Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien along for the ride.

Unfortunately for Hellboy though, as per usual, this isn’t going to just be another walk in the park job for him. Even if it isn’t Erzsebet that is causing all the ruckus, then there is another, more powerful figure watching from the shadows, poised to entice the Demon back to where he belongs… even if his true destiny includes the bringing forth of Armageddon itself!

Hellboy: Blood and Iron is a 2007 direct to DVD animated movie, the second movie from the Hellboy Animated franchise (based on Mike Mignola’s seminal comic book series, Hellboy) and follows on from the surprisingly good Hellboy: Sword of Storms movie that was released back in 2006. It is once again written and directed by veteran Disney alumni, Tad Stones, with some help of the legendary Mike Mignola of course, and as with the last outing, all the stars from the 2004 live-action movie return to voice their respective characters, namely Ron Perlman as Hellboy, Selma Blair as Liz Sherman and Doug Jones as Abe Sapien.

This time around it is vampire lore that gets used as the story’s main vehicle which unfortunately immediately limits the story to the set and accepted vampire genre guidelines. We have stakes, sunlight and the ever present holy water, all of which leaves very much a taste of been there, done that in one’s mouth when watching this movie. As with Sword of Storms, Tad again goes for the forking storyline approach, except he tries to shake it up a little by inserting frequent flashbacks in reverse order which shows a younger Professor Broom in action and aims on expanding the current storyline a little bit.

Unfortunately, this forking of the main storyline and the frequent flashback material takes a lot of the flow of the story away and it often feels as if you are trying to watch three or four different movies all at once – and not one of them have anything to do with another! Despite this weakened story, we do get quite a few action sequences to keep us enthralled, and as ever, Hellboy’s frequent quips and one-liners are enough to justify the movie all on its own – though you have to be a Hellboy fan to enjoy it of course.

Honestly, it is not the strongest of storylines and because of the lack of proper flow, this is one movie that ends up not feeling like much of a movie at all – rather just a single longish cartoon is what you are left with. Still, it carries all the elements necessary to make it a good and proper Hellboy story, and as such it will appeal to all those already a fan of our cranky red devil.

Visually, Blood and Iron looks a lot more common than what Sword of Storms did. True it still uses that clean, now fairly widespread animated style that balances simplicity and detail just right and makes for good looking animation which is not overly stylish, but it is in the colouring that if falls a little flat. No special effort to make it stand out, no special effects to speak of, and in truth, the backgrounds and colouring are just another point to add to that feeling of this simply being a lengthened episode of the usual animated series.

Aurally though, Hellboy immediately raises itself a notch by using the same actors that voiced the characters in the live-action movie, making for a great tie in with the rest of the Hellboy ‘universe’. As it is, all the voice actors do a superb job and together with some great sound effects make for a more than decent listening session. Christopher Drake also makes a welcome return as series composer and provides some great material, leaving us with a score that blends in perfectly with the rest of the movie.

Looking at it as a whole, while Hellboy: Blood and Iron is a competently produced and animated movie, it simply doesn’t seem to have enough newness or substance to let it stand out as a movie as such, and ends up pretty much feeling more like an extended episode than anything else. It feels as if the production house tried to play it as safe as possible and not bring anything spectacular to the table, leaving us with what can unfortunately only be described as a mediocre outing. Sure it has all the charm, humour and elements that you expect from a normal Hellboy outing, but this certainly isn’t the strongest of entries into what can be quite an entertaining universe to dwell in at times.

Rent it only if you are a Hellboy fan and happen to like watching Saturday morning cartoons all morning long.

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Related Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0817910/