A weird and wonderful action-fantasy sequel. 4/5 stars
When the original Hellboy came out in 2004, Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro was a cult figure best known for the arthouse horror movies Cronos and The Devil's Backbone. Since then he had picked up an Oscar nomination for his magnificent fantasy Pan's Labyrinth – he later won for The Shape of Water – and earned the right to indulge himself in this lavishly mounted sequel.
And indulge himself Del Toro certainly does: filling each scene with teeming hordes of the weirdest, wildest, slimiest monsters that his prodigious imagination can conjure up. The plot has the demonic superhero Hellboy (Ron Perlman), his amphibious buddy Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and fiery girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair) trying to stop a disgruntled underworld prince (Luke Goss) from declaring war on the human race with an army of unstoppable mechanical warriors.
What distinguishes this from other comic book fantasies is Del Toro's obvious love for his misshapen monstrosities, which have an otherworldly beauty that it's hard to tear your eyes from: a lengthy battle between Hellboy and giant tentacled plant creature through the streets of New York culminates in a wholly unexpected and quite lovely denouement that sends a shiver up your spine. In Del Toro's rich topsy-turvy universe, the monsters rule and are often the most human characters on the screen.
A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.
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