Hell Week: 'Hellboy' is back and a new 'Journey'
Guillermo del Toro, who took his inventive creatures to a truly scary place in the disturbing Pan's Labyrinth, is back in hell town. And in this case, hell is a more gentle landscape, one of imagination where a select group of monsters are on our side despite the numerous flaws of the human race.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army is not a sequel that soars to new heights, but it does slip into a nice summer-movie comfort zone and delivers a story that seems inspired by both the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the bar scene from Star Wars.
That lovable grump, the crime fighter Hellboy (Ron Perlman), has been a bad demon of late. Instead of keeping his acts of heroism on the down-low, as is required by his ultra-secret government organization, the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, he has been wanting some love from the people. His lovers' spat with Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), has, in large part, fueled his desire for hero worship.
Now, however, Hellboy must ignore his personal life and get back to work. The elf Prince Nuala (Luke Goss) is sick of living in a secret world underground while humans rule the topside of the planet. He wants to unleash the Golden Army, indestructible robots, to rid the planet of the humans. Hellboy will try to stop him.
Director del Toro, who also co-wrote the screenplay with the comic's author, Mike Mignola, has a real genius for creating distinctive creatures. He provides a whole new definition for the term "tooth fairy" (flying monsters that consume human teeth first), a giant, deadly plant, and an epic battle between Hellboy and the Golden Army of the title that's as titanic as you'd expect.
All the details, however, would be meaningless without Ron Perlman delivering the heroics with an equal measure of tough-guy bravado and the charming, very human desire for love and happiness.
Hellboy II delivers the thrills with a gentle underside.
|Journey to the Center of the Earth|
While Hellboy is looking to keep the monsters where they belong, below the surface, Journey to the Center of the Earth features human adventurers who want to discover the wonders that inhabit that world below. This flick is strictly kids' stuff, but with the 3D enticement, it makes for an enjoyable, lightweight good time. If you're looking for a goofy ambiance, you can't do much better than Brendan Fraser, who proved with his two Mummy movies that he does this sort of thing with the supreme silliness needed to pull it off.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army **1/2
Directed by Guillermo del Toro; rated PG-13
Journey to the Center of the Earth **1/2
Directed by Eric Brevig; rated PG
To read more about movies and other topics covered by movie critic Lori Hoffman under her blog alias Moviejunkie, visit http://blogs.atlanticcityweekly.com/
The Dark Knight Writer-director Christopher Nolan (Memento) revived the Batman franchise with Batman Begins thanks to a strong story and brilliant casting. The returning cast includes Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman, joined by Batman newbies the late Heath Ledger as the Joker, Aaron Eckhart and Maggie Gyllenhaal.