Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Year Released: 2008
Rating: 2.0

Part two of the Hellboy franchise once again has the cigar-chewing, Tecate-drinking Satanic brute (Ron Perlman) matched against a ghostly warrior with aspirations to resurrect a robotic army and take over the human world (it's never clear why these movie baddies want to take over the world - they must not watch the news or go out in public much, as they'd quickly realize we, quite frankly, aren't worth the effort and already good at dispatching ourselves). The picture is simple in terms of dialogue, plot and character development (the big revelation: the superheroes feel sad at being called 'freaks') but the set design is something else altogether: on the DVD, there's an extra where director Del Toro takes the viewer through the Troll Market set, which is so full of tiny details (maps on door handles, miles of cables strung from the buildings, an alphabet was made up specifically for the Troll characters, various sandals of many sizes stacked up, pipes everywhere) it's jaw-dropping. But that's kind of the problem: no doubt hours were spent on the visual design of the picture and the sets and the details of the sets, and that set takes up only about (don't quote me on this, I didn't time it) ten minutes of screen-time as the camera whirs past these things that most people in the audience won't ever notice, yet the aspects of the movie that truly matter - the things that make it memorable - are glossed over. Yes, you can 'see' the 72 million dollar budget on screen - I especially like the design for the Johann Krauss character, a spectre contained in a suit - but that isn't a high compliment.