Electricity & Lust

Choice Thoughts on Hellboy 2

Posted in film by Sam Unsted on August 26, 2008

Although comparison of this film with The Dark Knight is entirely expected given the chronological closeness of the two and their places within the comic book genre, I don’t think the comparison really serves either film with any fairness.

The Dark Knight has been garnished with praise beyond belief and no doubt it is an outstanding film. But it’s by no means the be all and end all of comic book movies. It’s a beautifully-created mess of a film that is very good but exhausting given the bleak worldview, relentless thematic ideas and huge performance of Heath Ledger. It leaves a space for a film like Hellboy 2 to fill, a comic book movie that eschews the engagement with real crime and overtly political issues that The Dark Knight hits and rather provides a phantasmagorical fantasy story-book world in which an audience can exist fall.

Guillermo Del Toro’s previous film prior to Hellboy 2, Pan’s Labyrinth, is among the finest pieces of work created on this side of the millennium. One of its key charms is the imagination that he manages to bring to the piece, specifically to the set design and the monsters he creates as part of the fantasy world of the lead character. Although I would argue that perhaps Hellboy 2 goes one monster too far in its array of fantastical beasts, eventually becoming an veritable conveyor belt from Del Toro’s mind, the sheer wealth of design ideas here and the consistent ability to avoid getting bogged down with overarching themes and plot gives this film a lightness on its feet that makes it both charming and hugely enjoyable to watch. Maybe it’s somewhat hollow but I think to start walking into every comic movie post-The Dark Knight expecting to watch a coruscating deconstruction of superheroes and relentless ‘dark’ storytelling is both dangerous and unwarranted. Surely there is no one who really wants to see constantly dark comic book movies because at some point, there becomes a need for entertainment to burst through and for movies to make sure they understand their place as escapism. I loved The Dark Knight, but I don’t want to go into a Hellboy film an be engaged on issues of national security, surveillance and domestic terrorism.

Hellboy 2 is fun, funny and breezy, never taking itself too seriously and providing a great slice of entertaining escapist cinema with set design and imagination to rival anything around.

Read Cassam at Screenjabber’s thoughts on the film here.


One Response

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  1. OrangeCrush said, on September 9, 2008 at 12:39 am

    Amen to that!! I have heard quite a few comparisons in regards to these two films and quite frankly I think you hit the nail right on the head. They shouldnt even be compared as they are ultimately 2 VERY different types of super hero movies. The same thing could be said for comparing Iron Man and The Dark Knight although Iron Man did have some serious political issues reagarding weapons manufacturing and being held accountable for who you ultimately sell to. With that being said Iron Man was about as Dark as HellBoy 2 and you just shouldn’t compare these light hearted films to somethng as Dark and as serious as Batman The Dark Knight.

    Overall I think its been one of the best years yet for Super Hero movies. I think The Dark Knight, Hellboy 2, Iron Man, The Hulk and even Hancock were all excellent films. Then we have Heath Ledgers performance which will no doubt go down in history as one of the best villains ever portrayed on film. Super Hero films have become a staple of the industry in recent years, certainly moreso then ever before, and considering the quality of the films we are now seeing made in this genre, its no wonder why people are flocking to the theaters to see such films. They are some of the most entertaing films being made IMO, certainly from an action films standpoint.

    Anyways this is certainly not anything new and anyone who reads comics can tell you that this light hearted vs dark and serious thematic battle has been waged on the comic side for years now. Actually some of the different comic universes are so dark thet they make even the Dark Knight seem light hearted by comparison. With that being said they should exist independently from one another and making comparisons between the two is really just not a very good idea at all. There is a need for both kinds of films.

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