Specials [2000]

Genre: Action, Comedy, Fantasy
The feverish Hellboy II: The Golden Army is a very busy sequel that might have looked unhinged in the hands of a less visionary director than Guillermo del Toro. Ron Perlman returns as Hellboy, aka "Red," the Dark Horse Comics demon-hero with roots in the mythical world but personal ties in the human realm. Still working, as he was in Hellboy, for a secret department of the federal government that deals (as in "Men In Black") with forces of the fantastic, Red and his colleagues take on a royal elf (Luke Goss) determined to smash a longtime truce between mankind and the forces of magic. Meanwhile, Red's relationship with girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair), who can burst into flames at will, is going through a rocky stage observed by Red's fishy friend Abe (Doug Jones), himself struck by love in this film. Del Toro brilliantly integrates the ordinary and extraordinary, diving into an extended scene set in a troll market barely hidden behind the fa├žade of typical city streets. He also unleashes a forest monster that devastates an urban neighborhood, but then--interestingly--brings a luminous beauty to the same area as the creature (an "elemental") succumbs to a terrible death. Del Toro's art direction proves masterful, too, in a climactic battle set in a clockworks-like stronghold tucked away in rugged Irish landscape. But it's really the juxtaposition of visual marvels with not-so-unusual relationship issues that gives Hellboy II a certain jaunty appeal hard to find in other superhero movies. --Tom Keogh

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