Hellboy II: The Golden Army, main posterFinally, I write a movie review on its opening weekend instead of two weeks late – I know, right? Anyway, I – along with a handful of friends – went and saw Hellboy II: The Golden Army Friday night (July 11). Keep in mind that I haven’t seen the first one – it was on FX Thursday night (the 10th), but I missed it. However, the friends I went with said that there really weren’t any confusing tie-ins with the first movie.

Now, to start – this movie was pretty good. The characters and relationships were strong well-defined; the plot was creative and immersive; and the visual effects were all good – although that really wasn’t unexpected. And finally, to get into the plot summary – yes, as with all my movie reviews, this contains spoilers. Don’t read them if you won’t want to spoil the movie.

When the movie starts, we see a little back story – how Hellboy came to be a member of the human world, things like that. Most notably, a scene from his childhood, where his father figure, Professor Trevor ‘Broom’ Bruttenholm (John Hurt) tells the young Hellboy (Montse RibĂ©) the story of the Golden Army.

This story says that, when the world was still young, all creatures lived together, in harmony – demons, elves, goblins, and humans. The problem was, man was created with a hole in his heart that no manner of possession or power could fill – greed. As a result, the humans initiated a long, painful war between themselves and the other races. Countless lives were taken – until finally, the goblins came to the king of the elves with a proposal. They could create an unstoppable army – seventy times seventy (4900 for my less math-inclined readers) indestructible metal soldiers, forged of gold.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army, poster 2The elf king accepted their offer; and so they created the army, and along with it a crown. A crown which gave the wearer the power to command the army with complete obedience, with one exception; if anybody were to challenge the wearer’s authority, the challenge must be met, and the winner would gain the right to bear the crown.

So the king puts on the crown and, unchallenged, commands the Golden Army to destroy the human combatants. He watches in horror as the remorseless soldiers slaughter their challengers; and, once the war was over, he split the crown into three parts; two stayed with the elves, while one went with the humans.

Fast forward to today. We come into the elven Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) practicing his technique with his weapon, a short bladed pole that extends to a full spear at his will, in a dry sewer chamber. He is obviously incredibly skilled. Then his friend Wink (operated by Brian Steele) – a troll, I believe – walks in. Nuada, indicating two large boxes, tells Wink about how he “just bought them” and he “hasn’t fed them yet”. Then he tells Wink that “he’ll go up first, and to follow him quietly” – and the camera pans upward through a vertical sewer tunnel and a manhole.

Now, we cut over to an auction of precious art – a couple items are sold for obscene amounts of money, then the piece of the crown (whose origin is unknown, according to the auctioneer) goes up for sale. The lights flicker out and the computer screens all turn to static; the auctioneer says to remain calm, as the power outage is most likely only temporary. But then the Prince walks in, along with Wink, who is carrying those two boxes from before.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army, poster 3Nuada informs everybody that he will be taking the crown piece; and so he does. Then he tells them all that they are about to be reminded why they once feared the dark – and he opens the boxes, freeing whatever is inside – all we can tell is that there are a large number of small creatures in there. Then, the screen goes dark and we simply hear screaming.

And now, cut over to our introduction with the main character – Hellboy, referred to by other characters mainly as Red (and played by Ron Perlman). Red is an agent in a top-secret government bureau devoted to keeping the paranormal under control, and a secret from the general public. However, he doesn’t like being kept a secret – and his supervisor, Tom Manning (Jeffrey Tambor), does not like it – but he’s not a very strong-willed guy.

So one of the other agents, and Red’s buddy, Abe Sapien (Doug Jones), leads Tom down to the apartment that Red shares with his girlfriend, Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) – and they find Red being thrown out (literally) by Liz. Red tells Abe and Tom to be careful, that Liz is “on fire” – and when Red goes back inside, that turns out to be quite true. Apparently, Liz is a pyromancer.

And apparently, what they were arguing about was, basically, Red – his ridiculous number of cats; his cleaning habits, or lack thereof; his attitude towards, well, everything. Then, when Tom starts trying to talk to Red about how he needs to stop getting “on-camera” time in the general public, Red basically ignores him; this works for Red because Tom is afraid of him.

However, as it turns out, Tom also came to brief them on a situation they have to go clean up – the auction. He informs them of what the bureau does know, which isn’t very much, and they move out to go take care of it. Tom even bribes Red with Cuban cigars to remain incognito. When the scene transitions over to the city street, we see Tom stating to the press that there was a “gas bubble”, and that FBI agents under his command are inside taking care of the situation.

While inside, we learn that the little creatures are known as tooth fairies – they feed primarily on calcium, and all they really do is eat, then eat some more. Eventually, they find a couple of the creatures, and one of the human agents mentions how it’s cute, as it sits there eating a tooth that it got from one of the people at the auction – that it killed.

Then all Hell breaks loose. The little fuckers start swarming out of the walls; they kill the two or three human agents that are on the mission. Liz starts doing her pyromancy thing, and Red moves toward a window – which she specifically says to stay away from, but he doesn’t. Then she causes an explosion – literally – which kills all the little demons and blows Red out the window.

Naturally, the press starts freaking out – asking all sorts of questions, etc. Long story short, they get back to the bureau compound…thing, and Tom starts giving him a lecture. Naturally, Red really isn’t listening, so Tom tells him he brought in a new superior for Red – a German specialist named Johann Krauss (played by James Dodd and John Alexander, with voice by Seth MacFarlane – yes, the guy who makes Family Guy and American Dad, check out his IMDB page). Meanwhile, Abe and Liz are talking about Red – and, when Abe touches Liz’s stomach, he finds out that she’s pregnant – which is also news to her. This is a recurring issue throughout the movie, but Red doesn’t find out until much, much later.

Krauss is a highly skilled, highly regimented agent, who “really understands the chain of command”, according to Tom. And, as we find Krauss is actually a ghost – contained in a mechanical suit. Naturally, Krauss and Red butt heads quite a bit – Krauss does everything very by-the-book, while Red is basically the epitome of unorthodox – they’re polar opposites. Anyway, they have a meeting, and Krauss informs them all that they need to find the troll market, something that they all say has never been done, and Krauss responds that that is because they haven’t been teamed with him. They also mention that the symbol on the box is the elven royal seal – but it’s only used in times of war.

At some point during all this (I can’t recall exactly when) the scene cuts over to the elven royal chamber, where Prince Nuada is (against his will) stripped of his weapon by the Chamberlain (also played by Doug Jones) – it is not until his sister, Princess Nuala (Anna Walton) insists that he gives it up that he finally does. Then, he enters the chamber – and goes before King Balor (Roy Dotrice) and their council, stating that they should wage war on the humans, to reclaim the world that is rightfully theirs. The king is surprised, stating that this would be breaking an ancient treaty between all the races; but the prince says that, in keeping the outside world to themselves, the humans themselves are breaking the treaty.

King Balor asks Nuada if this is truly how he feels, to which he responds that it is. Both the king and Princess Nuala are saddened, as the king is forced to sentence Nuada to death for this. Nuada asks his sister if he agrees with her king’s decision, and she says that she does. So the guards attempt to subdue Nuada, but fail – he takes a sword from one and uses it to fight until he steals another sword, then he brings them all down in a very impressive display of dual-wielding. Until, finally, he reaches the king’s throne – he assassinates the king, and takes his piece of the Golden Crown. Now he has two of them – he turns around to tell Nuala to give him hers, but she’s not in the chamber – she is fleeing.

And now, back to our heroes – Krauss brings om three sets of goggles that can pierce the illusion that trolls and other magical creatures and objects project around themselves. They use these to reveal a troll underneath the Brooklyn (I think, anyway) bridge in New York City, who (quite unwillingly) leads them to the entrance to the market. When they get there, the door is sealed by a very cryptic puzzle. Red’s answer is to pound the shit out of the troll until she lets them in; Krauss, however, being a ghost, can permeate the mechanism of the puzzle, and he quickly solves it to open the door.

Once inside, Krauss tells them to keep radio communications to a minimum in order to avoid being conspicuous. They wander around, trying to find the elf who released the tooth fairies – naturally, we know that it was Prince Nuada, but they do not, gogo dramatic irony – until Abe spots a heavily-cloaked elf with the same seal on a wristband. He follows her, until she slips into a small shop at the end of an alley – where we find out that it’s Princess Nuala. When the store owner realizes this, he gives her a map left by her father. Then, Abe walks in – and she asks why he’s been following her.

He says that he hasn’t, but she knows otherwise. She asks his name, and he tells her – Abraham Sapien – but she says that there is no such name. So she asks for his hand, and he touches hers with his – and then, both being telepathic, she understands that he isn’t lying, and what his intentions are. Then, Nuada drops in – and Abe tells her to run, while he handles Nuada. So she does, but Nuada’s pet troll, Wink, drops in.

Very shortly, Red makes it to the fight – and engages Wink. They throw each other around and cause a lot of destruction in the market, but eventually, Red ends up killing Wink. This infuriates Nuada, who throws some sort of a glowing green seed in front of him, while Nuala pleads for him not to. The seed eventually seeks out water, and grows to giant proportions – as it turns out, that little seed was an Elemental; a Forest God. Red saves an endangered baby from a minivan, fights, and eventually defeats the Elemental by shooting its weak point, the head (critical hit~), but not before Nuada manages to make him question his place in the human world. Nuada is aided by the way the public reacts to Red saving their lives – not very favorably. After the Elemental is killed, plants begin sprouting all over the city streets and buildings – it’s really rather remarkable. After the area is cleaned up, they all make their way back to the compound, with Nuala.

While at the compound, Nuala reads some poetry, and her and Abe spark a bit of a romance – it seems a bit fake though, so it’s not really worth mentioning beyond this one sentence. Nuala also reveals that, in her belt, she carries the final piece of the crown – the only thing left stopping Nuada from activating the Golden Army and waging an apocalyptic war on mankind. When Abe tells her that she is safe in the compound, due to its location being top secret, she tells him that, because they are twins, her and her brother share a bond – a connection – and, because she knows its location, he does as well.

Later on, in what appears to be a locker room, we see Abe drinking some beer that he keeps in his locker. Krauss walks in, and they start going at it – Krauss telling him that his downfall is his temper, and that he can’t take criticism. So Red punches him, destroying the glass dome that keeps Krauss’s ectoplasm inside his suit. He slowly leaks out and appears to dissipate, and Red starts to get nervous, thinking he killed him. However, Krauss did not dissipate – he possessed the lockers, much like he did with the puzzle to get into the troll market earlier, so he starts opening them, hitting Red repeatedly until satisfied, when he leaves the lockers and walks away in his (apparently) natural ethereal form. The whole scene is pretty funny.

Naturally, having just had his pride and ego hurt, Red continues drinking, and he brings some over to Abe’s chamber. Red tells him to drink, and he tries to decline, to no avail – but Red won’t hear it. Scene change to Nuala, still in the library – she says to herself “he’s here” – so she rushes to place the crown piece in the poetry book she had been reading earlier, and throw the map she got from that shopkeeper in the fire. Then she turns around, and there he is – so she pushes the emergency button and everybody rushes to the library, including Abe and Red, both still drunk.

They walk in and find that Nuada has the princess captive, at knifepoint – he presses it into her cheek, cutting her, and starts to bleed himself, exemplifying the bond between them. So, Abe and Red engage him in combat. Naturally, Abe gets his ass handed to him. Red, however, does pretty well – but ultimately loses when Nuada stabs him in the chest with his spear, which apparently has an enchantment where it can leave the blade in a victim and grow another. So he leaves a blade in Red’s chest, right over his heart, and tells everybody that if they want to save Red, and if Abe wants to see Nuala again, to bring him the crown piece.

Next, we see Abe and Liz in an infirmary room with Red on the table – but every time Abe tries to get close enough to the blade to pull it out, it moves closer to his heart. Another scene change; Abe is in the library with a team of people, searching the books for the crown piece, when he recalls the poem book Nuala was reading from – he looks in it, and lo and behold, it’s in there. But rather than reporting it to the other agents, he steals it. Then he goes to find Liz, and the two of them decide to steal a bureau plane and go confront Nuada – but he doesn’t tell her he has the crown piece.

So they go to take a plane, and Krauss catches them. He asks them if they have clearance to take that plane, which they do not. So Liz goes off on him – saying how even if he was once human, he certainly is not anymore if he doesn’t understand their plight and let them take the plane. He thinks about this for a moment, and then ends up going along with it, even flying for them. When Liz asks him if he got clearance, he responds “SCREW THE CLEARANCE!” – and off they fly.

The next scene, we see them wandering through a hilly grassland in northern Ireland, in an outcropping of large boulders. They’re wondering how to get to where Nuada is hiding out, when a goblin with a cart (he has no legs; the cart is attached to his lower body) walks up to them – Liz asks for safe passage, but the goblin needs something in return. She offers him her “shiny belt buckle”, but he doesn’t have pants; she offers him “magical eyes”, but he says he already has binoculars. Then he spies the spear blade still in Red’s chest, and says he wants it – but Liz cries out, saying that they cannot remove it.

The goblin, however, wants the blade – and is willing to accept it as payment – so he blows a whistle, and the outcropping of rocks turns out to be a giant rock golem (or elemental, or something), and it stands up when the whistle blows, revealing a sort of doorway to an ancient city in its chest. As we find out, this was an ancient goblin city that is very clearly no longer populated – and the goblin they’re encountering is the one who designed and built the Golden Army, and that’s how he lost his legs.

Eventually, he leads them to a room with a demon-like being attached to the floor in the center of a circle – she has no eyes on her face, but has several on the underside of each wing. As we find out, this is the Angel of Death (yet another character played by Doug Jones), and she has been waiting for them – for she has come to claim Hellboy’s life. Liz pleads with her to save him; Death says that his destiny is to destroy the world, and makes Liz choose – the world, or Red. She chooses Red, and continues to plead for her to remove the blade – which she holds up, stating that it is already done, and she has done all she can – now Liz has to give him a reason to live.

She fades away, while the goblin yells so she doesn’t forget to give him the blade, which she leaves behind. Liz leans close to Red, and tells him that he’s going to be a father. He wakes up, surprised, and she confirms that she is pregnant. After a bit of romance, they remember that they need to take care of Nuada, so they walk to go meet him in what appears to be some sort of throne room. Along the way, the camera pans out and we can see the entire deactivated Golden Army – 4900 massive golden soldiers is a lot.

When they confront Nuada, Abe walks forward and, much to his companions’ dismay, throws the crown piece to him upon being promised Nuala’s release and their safe passage back home. Nuada puts them together and puts it on – thus activating his army, which he orders to kill Red and his companions. What a surprise, the villain went back on his word. So Red and Liz start going to town, and Krauss releases his ectoplasm from his suit so he can possess one of the soldiers, which turns blue while possessed.

They’re doing pretty well – they destroy several of them, and during the fight, Red says “industrible, my ass” – referring to the story that the Professor Bruttenholm told him at the beginning of the movie; he called them indestructible, and Red asked him what “industrible” meant. However, once they slow down and stop for a minute, the destroyed soldiers all put themselves back together. So, again remembering his childhood story, Red yells that he challenges Prince Nuala for his right to command the Golden Army. Nuala cries out that, being the son of “the Fallen One”, Red’s challenge must be answered.

Abe tells him that anything that happens to Nuada also happens to Nuala, and Red responds that he’s not going to kill him – although he is going to beat the shit out of him. So an epic battle between Nuada and Red ensues. Red uses all the humongous cogs in the throne room to his advantage, frequently disappearing behind one and reappearing from behind another. Nuada is still incredibly skilled, but Red isn’t drunk this time – and eventually, he gets the upper hand. Nuada pleads for Red to kill him, saying that if he isn’t killed, he will not stop – but Red refuses.

He takes the crown and, while his back is turned, Nuada pulls out a dagger and starts moving toward Red. He stops very suddenly, however, and starts bleeding from the chest – then the truth dawns on everybody, and we see the Princess, who stabbed herself through with her own dagger. Abe rushes to her side, but ultimately can only hold her hand and tell her how he feels until she passes – and turns to stone, just as her father did.

Nuada gives a typical end-of-the-villain speech, then suffers the same fate. Liz takes the crown from Red, and turns up the heat until it melts, falling to the ground as a harmless mass of gold. The army is all deactivated. It’s very fortunate that that’s how it turned out, if you ask me – they could have also simply been freed of all control and gone to wreak havoc on all living things.

They make their way outside, where some other bureau agents, including Tom, are trying to find their way inside. Tom begins to reprimand them for their behavior, but, much to his surprise, Red, Liz, and Abe all hand him their belts and inform him that they are resigning. He asks Krauss if they can do that, but Krauss simply insults him and walks off with the other three. While walking away, Hellboy talks about his future fatherhood and starts making plans for the baby – but Liz corrects him, holding up two fingers, indicating that she is having twins.

And that’s the movie. I started this review Friday night after I got home; that’s how long it took to write. I hope you enjoyed the plot summary as much as I enjoyed the movie – and if you haven’t seen it, I’d advise watching it if you were interested enough to read through this whole thing.