Another bulked-up superhero returns, accompanied by an endless parade of freaks and creepy-crawlies, to fight an otherworldly army.
Another reluctant superhero cometh. Hellboy is certainly more gung-ho than, say, Hancock, but that's not saying much. He's the average Joe of comic-book behemoths, and in "Hellboy II: The Golden Army," he looks as if he'd rather be kicking back than battling beasties.
Despite its comic-book trappings – it's based on the Dark Horse comic books created by Mike Mignola – "Hellboy II," even more so than its predecessor, "Hellboy," resembles nothing so much as an art film phantasmagoria.
This should not be surprising since the director of the series is Guillermo del Toro, best known among cinéastes for "Pan's Labyrinth," a sinister fairy tale set in Fascist Spain that won the 2006 Oscar for best foreign film. He's also noted for such high-style Hollywood bloodbaths as "Blade II." In other words, he's an auteur who likes to have it both ways.
In "Hellboy II," del Toro, who co-scripted with Mignola, attempts to weld the bam-pow studio mind-set to a more expressive artistic sensibility. The result is like "Pan's Labyrinth" on steroids. This is not entirely intended as a compliment. For one thing, "Pan's Labyrinth" is a movie that, for all its flavor, doesn't hold up as a masterpiece. In retrospect it resembles a del Toro freak show amped up with sociopolitical smarts.
"Hellboy II" doesn't take itself nearly as seriously but, like its predecessor, overdoses on big galumphing goblins and trolls and creepy-crawlies. Since many of these uglies are inventively designed, starting with Hellboy himself, the film is far from a washout. But del Toro doesn't quite know when to call a halt to the pageant. It's been said that you don't know what is enough until you know what is more than enough. "Hellboy II" is more than enough.