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Hellboy 2 -- some thoughts.

David J Prokopetz

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I loved the first movie, I thought it was great. This one is just that much better. The first one was a movie with Hellboy in it, this one is a Hellboy movie.
I think this illustrates my problem with a lot of comic book adaptations - or any adaptation of a strongly character-driven piece, really. The movie version is almost invariably less a "[character name here] movie" and more a "movie with [character name here] in it".

Let's hope Hellboy 2 bucks the trend.


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David J Prokopetz said:
Let's hope Hellboy 2 bucks the trend.
This summer? I think there's a new trend.

When your worst superhero movie of the past three months is still relatively fun and fundamentally character-driven (and let's face it, even if he'd been a cameo, the movie would have ultimately become about Will Smith's character), I think it bodes pretty well for the next two flicks on the dock. And commercially, it looks like Hellboy 2 is going to surf on a wave of good will toward superhero movies in the summer of '08.

Now I really liked the first Hellboy movie, but I loved the Hellboy comics, particularly the short form ones. I read them to my girlfriend at the time, as bedtime stories. Del Toro got to make a fairly good movie with Hellboy in it, though he also had to make a fairly pedestrian movie about Men in Black that we'd already seen many times before.

What this movie appears to do is, like Iron Man, rapidly bring Movie Hellboy (which had to start from a "conventional movie assumptions" place) into What Makes Hellboy Special territory: people know him and don't fear him, he's casual and workmanlike about monster-fighting, he's an honorary human who takes that identity seriously. I think it's important to tell us what makes Hellboy special.

Favreau did it with aplomb. Leterrier more or less got it right with the Hulk. Del Toro is so good - I just can not wait for friday.


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I enjoyed the first film enough to want to see this, period. But I'm with others here - the visuals in the preview sold me on the movie twice over. I am really excited for it, and even a moderately awful story will have a tough time negating the fantastic visual effects enough to get a thumbs down from me.


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Now I really liked the first Hellboy movie, but I loved the Hellboy comics, particularly the short form ones.
The recent story "Makoma" from the collection The Troll Witch and other Stories really impressed me.

For that matter "The Troll Witch" was good too.
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I think that this is maybe one of those things where the one you start with is the one you're inclined to favor. I came at it from the opposite angle, starting with the comics and being excited about the movie, but somewhat disappointed by a lot of the changes they made.
Mmmmm. I dunno. I haven't read the comics, but I could tell that Hellboy 1 had a lot of potential but failed to live up to it.



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That whole drawing is great, but Dr. Zoidberg as Lobster Johnson is inspired brilliance.
Indeed! It was in the free comic book day Hellboy comic. I was going to scan it and use it as my desktop.

I just got back from seeing the Midnight showing, and as I sit back and reflect, I have mixed feelings on the subject. I'm going try and mark them down and keep them spoiler free, but be aware that there are probably going to be some spoilers below.

All in all, it was a great movie. It was big, bombastic, and very beautiful. The costumes and set design were brilliant, as were most of the monsters. The acting was again great as well (I firmly believe that Hellboy was the role Ron Pearlman was born to play). Just as a movie alone it was beautiful and did everything it needed to do quite well.

That's part of my problem, really. I've loved the comics for a long time and it took me just a little while to realize that the comic universe and the movie universe aren't the same thing. This wasn't a straight up adaptation and I feel that some of the changes that were made were for both good and ill. First, the good stuff.

Things I Loved
The interplay between Abe and Hellboy was just brilliant and spot on. There were parts in the movie that really sold that they're friends and stick together. A drunken sing-along was one of the funniest moments in the movie. They got that part spot-on and if it didn't necessarily happen in the comic, it felt like it could have happened.

The main antagonist, Prince Nuada, was really, really credible and just likable enough that he wasn't cliche. I found myself almost rooting for him at times, because he was really competent and quite the badass. He made me want to stat out an Elven Ranger or Fighter in the worst way, and that's saying something considering what I usually think about elves.

Johan was a nice addition, even if I think that they took a long time to really find what he should be doing. Visually he was spot on and imagined just brilliantly, so that was good. There is a scene in a lock room that just had me and my wife in stitches and really made me bring him back around. I think I'd like to see him more in the later movies. There was one bit near the end of the movie that really made him a credible ally and made me go "cooooool!"

The troll market; my god, someone gave Del Toro a lot of money to make a fun film and I can definitely see where he spent it! This market was just pure fun and really made me think of all the things I liked about Hellboy. Between this and the final set piece for the last battle were just a pure joy to watch and they'll really stand up to repeated viewings. Just a great piece of work, really.

Things I Was Displeased About
Now, I said earlier that the two operate in different universes. Well, sorry to say that I think this movie is even a bit more different than the first one from the comics. There was a lot of great stuff in the movie, but some of it I wasn't too big on.

First of all, they really ramped up the romance portion of this movie. We get not one, but two romance storylines, neither of which I thought were really needed or all that enjoyable, really. I'm going to spoiler the next bit because I consider it a heavy spoiler for the movie, so please don't read it if you don't want to be spoiled. Suffice it to say that I think the next two points could have been dropped and it would have been a better movie for it.

Spoilers ahead! I mean it! I talk about things in the movie! You have been warned!
Spoiler: Show
The first one with Liz and Hellboy does tangentially sort of call on the comics in a vague way and does continue from the first book. That wouldn't have bothered me so much if they hadn't have made Liz pregnant. That was just so out of left field and felt so unnecessary that it somewhat displeased me. Number one how did it happen and number two was it really needed? It almost felt like something that some Hollywood executive said needed to be in there and neither Mignola nor Del Toro said no. This was one of the thing things that just didn't sit right with me.

Spoiler: Show
The one between Abe and the Princess was just...so predictable. On one hand it does sort of call in some stuff that happened in BPRD with a totally different monster type, but mostly it seemed a bit forced and I didn't quite dig it. Add to that the fact that you knew the girl was going to die in the end and I just didn't like it all that much.

There was a bit in the opening sequence (that Kai Tave put so well that I'll post it here) that reminded me a lot more of Men In Black than hellboy, but ti was minor enough that I can sort of forgive it. Yet I did expect better.

The other major thing I'm also going to spoiler because I think it's pretty central to the plot and I don't want to give it away. I'm not sure how to say it without spoiling people, so I'll just spoiler it below. Please be aware that I do consider this a spoiler.

Spoiler: Show
Yes, Hellboy goes public pretty darn quickly, which I did love a lot. It does happen within like the first thirty minutes of the movie and the manner in which it happens was kind of fun. Yet the big problem with it isn't that he was outed, it's that the public hated him! They called him ugly, one woman was screaming about him stealing her baby, the whole nine yards.

Now, thematically I can see why they chose to do it that way. It resonated with the Prince's stance of "us against them," but I really feel like it was the thing that most diverted from the comics. I liked that Hellboy was just considered this working class sort of guy that folks would play cards with or have a beer with. I'm hoping that the third movie (if there is one) will reverse this pretty quickly, but that was kind of a big thing. Them being in secret I can handle better than him being public but hated. It just doesn't sit right with me. But I can understand why they did it for the movie.

Final Thoughts
All in all, it was a great movie. I really enjoyed it and there were scenes that had me laughing, which I think really fits the Hellboy vibe. The acting is great even if the script might have needed a bit of work and some trimming. I think they probably could have cut about 20 minutes of the film and it would have been a lot tighter and more enjoyable.

I think I'd give it a very solid B as a Hellboy movie, but an A for a "superhero movie."
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