I can barely keep up with the mythology put forth by the "Hellboy" series, but I enjoyed the first film, and I enjoyed the new one. The best scene in "Hellboy II: The Golden Army," writer-director Guillermo Del Toro's sequel to his comic book adaptation "Hellboy," involves tooth fairies. These are not the sort of tooth fairies you want 'round your pillow at night. These tooth fairies eat teeth, and conjured by an underworld prince hellbent on taking over the planet, they provide cigar-chomping tough guy Hellboy and his team from the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense with some formidable opposition.
The tooth-fairy swarm scene reminds you just how inventive Del Toro is, and how, in the right hands, digital effects, creature design and directorial elan can work together to give you the best sort of willies. (Del Toro was the fantasist behind "Pan's Labyrinth.) It's as vivid as anything in the first "Hellboy."
The movie overall is engaging, though it's more cavalier regarding story and relentless in its action than its predecessor. Del Toro's script, based on the Mike Mignola comic book, focuses rather dutifully on Hellboy's domestic strife with girlfriend and pyro-tyro Liz ( Selma Blair, looking like a live-action version of Colette in "Ratatouille"). Ron Perlman is great to have around as Hellboy; as before, his oaky, mellow voice belies all manner of freakish rage and loner angst. I wish, though, he had more to do in his own sequel. Del Toro and his sterling team of designers sometimes make it hard on the actors to be noticed. Here, for example, by the time we get to the climactic battle between the forces of good and the underworld prince's mechanical golden army of doom, it's simply the largest and last in a long line of combat sequences.
But there is an awful lot to soak up here visually, and that counts for a good deal. The creature and makeup effects are by Mike Elizalde ("Men in Black"), who is a genius. The adversarial Prince Nuada (Luke Goss, good with a spear and a variety of blades) is appalled at how humankind has trashed the planet. He's Al Gore with unlimited mixed martial arts training, and as odd as it seems, "Hellboy II," "WALLE" and Werner Herzog's documentary "Encounters at the End of the World" are all saying the same thing. We'd better tend our garden more mindfully, or not even Hellboy will be able to save us.
See the trailer and find local showtimes for "Hellboy II: The Golden Army."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun