There are certain movies that are such the result of a director’s unique vision that it would be impossible to imagine the same film as made by anybody else. Visionary director Guillermo Del Toro has crafted such a film in Hellboy 2. Even though the movie is an adaptation of a series of Graphic Novels by Mike Mignola, Del Toro has made this world his own. As his follow-up to Pan’s Labyrinth, he has created an extraordinarily beautiful fantasy disguised as a typical superhero/fantasy movie.
This movie is a feast for the senses, vastly superior to the surprisingly mundane original. That movie served a necessary function by establishing the main group of characters and the world they inhabit. While the story was huge, the movie felt small. Nothing is small in Hellboy 2. Del Toro assumes we’ve seen the original and he now invites us to explore the hidden details of this world.
The story of Hellboy 2 is nothing special. There is a semi-interesting backstory involving a war between humanity and the world of fantasy, the truce that was established, and the villain who wants to end that truce. However, none of this really matters. The story simply serves as a device to get our characters from one jaw-dropping location to another, and to introduce as many creatively beautiful creatures as possible. A particular highlight involves a trip to a “troll-market,” populated with all manner of creatures huge and small. I found myself frequently pausing the image in order to make sure I didn’t miss any of the details that go by so quickly.
While the DVD extras are interesting, they don’t really do justice to the film itself. For being such an imaginative movie, the documentaries on the creative process feel very pedestrian. I expected a higher degree of insight into the creative process, but it all proves very generic and not at all insightful. We see the creation of the worlds, but none of the excitement. There are the standard looks into pre-production, production, and post-production, as well as the standard art galleries. The best extra is a tour of the Troll-Market set. Del Toro hosts this segment, and just walks around explaining the layout of this sequence. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really showcase the creatures seen in this sequence, just the set itself.
Despite this, the DVD is definitely worth owning for the movie itself. Everything about Hellboy 2 is on a huge scale, and it is worth multiple viewings. Del Toro has proved that Pan’s Labyrinth was no fluke. He has a truly unique vision, and Hellboy 2 is a truly unique experience.