Birth of the Demon Part 4 (Hellboy: the Golden Army, 2008)

Hellboy_Golden_Army_PosterDel Toro’s follow up introduces the most vicious tooth fairies you have ever seen.

An Elven Prince has decided that it is time for the magical world to rise up against humanity, breaking an ancient pact. He seeks the Golden Army, an ancient legion of un-living and unstoppable soldiers.

An elven princess (and twin sister to the prince) interferes and enlists the help of Hellboy and the Bureau of Paranormal Research.

This results in the team at the Bureau having to dive deep into a world of magic and wonder. Hellboy finds himself torn between the protection of the human world and the callous disregard of the lives of magical creatures.  For Hellboy, this is personified in his relationship with Liz. He struggles with his insecurities, though, thankfully in this film, they left out Agent Myers, so it is not dragged down by that character.  Instead, Hellboy struggles to see himself as more a man than monster. One of the things I liked in both films is this notion that Hellboy is not a slave to his heritage.  His father believed in his ability to be a good man above a destructive monster, and in this film, Liz takes that role from Broome.

For Abe, it is deeply personal as he falls in love with the Elven Princess. There also is a lot of Bureaucratic interference, not just from Jeffrey Tambor’s Tom Manning, but from the (no longer human) Johann Krauss.  Voiced by Seth McFarlane, Krauss is actually a very entertaining foil for Hellboy for much of the film.

This time around Del Toro fully embraces the whimsy and myth.  The character designs or wonderful and grotesque, often at the same time (though the Elves are simply beautiful and angelic).

Perlman, Blair and Jones have a really solid chemistry and it delivers a believable close connection between these three characters who feel like they are always on the outside of the world they are sworn to protect.  It is especially nice to see Jones getting to provide his own voice, getting to give a fully realized performance.  He keeps the gentle tone, keeping this from feeling like a huge departure from the first film.

Hellboy: the Golden Army is much stronger than the first film in pretty much every way.  The Golden Army holds up under repeated viewings and is a great film that has a lot of fun with its concept.

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