I'm out here in LA to cover television, but with a rare night off yesterday, I slipped down to the neighborhood multiplex to catch "Hellboy II: The Golden Army." Some brief, not-too-spoilery, thoughts on it (you've already seen how busy my day is) coming up just as soon as I crank up the Manilow...
I liked but didn't love Guillermo Del Toro's first "Hellboy" movie. Ron Pearlman brought a perfect amount of earthy sarcasm to the title role, and there were a lot of amazing things to look at, but it felt too busy -- like Del Toro wanted to include so many concepts from the comic books and from his own imagination that he didn't have enough time to focus on the storytelling.
"Hellboy II" follows the pattern. There was no shortage of amazing things to look at -- I was particularly fond of the plant monster -- and if Hellboy himself didn't have quite as many funny moments as in the original, the Seth MacFarlane-voiced Johann Strauss -- relentlessly, hilariously German -- more than made up for that.
But there were only a few sequences in the movie where I felt fully-engaged by the story and characters, as opposed to just impressed by the craft and imagination on display. The drunken lite-FM singalong was really the only part where Hellboy made me laugh, the narrative felt very lackadaisical, and the villain made almost no impression. (The movie also badly needed a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" moment where the bad guy did all of his showy but pointless flips and twirls and jumps and then Hellboy either shot him or punched him in the face.)
As with the first one, there are enough good and creative things going on that I'm glad I saw it, and on a big screen, but I'm still waiting for Del Toro to make a movie with these characters that's firing on all cylinders.
What did everybody else think?