Thursday, November 13, 2008

HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY (Guillermo del Toro, 2008, USA) Sometimes the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the few…or the many. This is the fatal conundrum that the fiery tart Liz Sherman must confront; to sacrifice love for the world. But director Guillermo del Toro loses focus with an orgy of special effects and creatures; a troll-market (stolen from of Neil Gaiman’s NEVERWHERE), carnivorous tooth-faeries, a forest elemental (similar to PRINCESS MONONOKE) that stalks the ruined streets, a kung fu Elf, mechanical toy soldiers, and spinning-flipping-twirling fight scenes that make this movie seem like a pedantic video game. This visual feast contains empty calories, beneath this shiny veneer lurks a monster-mash of body parts ripped from the corpses of lesser films and jumbled together in a confusing and pedestrian mess. The film is just too busy with superficial effects that numb the brain, inane and embarrassing dialogue, and a plot that seems written by a fifteen-year-old Dungeons and Dragons freak. The soundtrack’s aural assault is a vibrato-knife that cuts the cochlea and severs the vestibule creating a narrative vertigo and the head-spinning kinetic editing is practically nausea inducing. The story becomes interesting when it slows down and embraces the characters and allows intimacy, but these moments are too few and become lost amid the turgid compositions. With the exception of Liz and Abe Sapien, the supporting cast is annoying and obtuse; the uninspired humorless personal conflicts fall flat and lifeless. This sequel enhances the negative elements of the first film while diminishing the positive character developments: del Toro forgets to tell us a unique story concerning people we care about. (C-)

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