May 12, 2010

24 FPS Top 100: No. 100

100: Hellboy II: The Golden Army [2008]
Dir: Guillermo Del Toro

Why is it on the list?
I’m not known for my love of recent blockbusters, but Hellboy II is an honourable exception to pretty much every rule of the genre. Unjustly overshadowed on release by the comprehensively overrated The Dark Knight, Del Toro’s sequel to his rather pedestrian initial Hellboy movie doesn’t live in such deep darkness as the Batman film, but it’s also not merely frivolous. Working much more organically now with Mike Mignola’s characters, Del Toro paints an epic tale of a war between creatures of myth now endangering the human world.

The film’s impact grows with every passing scene, and Del Toro does stunning work both in broad action based strokes and in subtle emotional shadings, drawing winning and moving performances from his whole cast, especially the central trio of Ron Perlman, Selma Blair (who, delivering the film’s quietly devastating emotional climax, made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up) and Doug Jones.

It is, like all of Del Toro’s work, gorgeous to behold, and looks unlike any other director’s work, but what’s really striking is how varied, but also how strongly defined, a world he depicts here. It’s a film rich in detail, never more so than in the troll market and angel of death scenes, which are among the most striking things Del Toro has ever put on film. The masterstroke is the finely balanced tone of the film, it manages to go from broad comedy to punchy action to deeply felt emotion with gear changes always being smooth and easy.

Standout Scenes

The Angel of Death
: Perhaps Del Toro’s most beautiful creation ever, taking centre stage in a scene that raises the stakes of the film to near apocalyptic levels and provides a stunning emotional pay off.

The Troll Market: A world within a world, packed with weird and wonderful (practical) characters.

The action scenes: The fights are excellent, with a strong contrast between the hulking force of Perlman’s Hellboy and the speed and grace of Luke Goss’ villain.

Favourite Lines [SPOILERS]
Johann Krauss: Nice baby.
Baby: I'm not a baby. I'm a tumor.

Hellboy: Liz...
Liz Sherman: Don't try to talk.
Hellboy: No, you need to hear this. I know what's important. It's you. I can turn my back on the world, all of it... as long as you stay with me.
Liz Sherman: I'll stay with you. You're the best man I know.
Hellboy: [smiles] Man...

Angel of Death: So, child, make the choice. The world, or him?
Liz Sherman: Him.
Angel of Death: The time will come, and you, my dear, will suffer more than anyone.
Liz Sherman: I'll deal with it. Now save him.

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1 comment:

  1. Well that's a surprise.

    I thought the first Hellboy was enjoyable but rather average and whilst I have the sequel on DVD I have yet to watch it, 'Troll market' sounds great.