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An example of how films should be made.
on 28 March 2011
Hell Boy 2 is a tour de force of the mind and imagination of Guillermo Del Toro. Perhaps best known for his film Pans Labyrinth, he's a director who delights in dark fantasy and twisted beauty; something this film is awash with.
The story does a good job of following on from the original Hell Boy (also by Del Toro) but cleverly it manages to stay true to both of its original roots (the comic book and original film) whilst moving everything on, and giving us something new.
In this instalment of the Hell Boy franchise we're introduced to new characters who join the team and an equally memorable array of villains as was found in the first film - most notably perhaps Mr. Wink.
As you'd expect from Guillermo, the sets, costumes, scenery and creatures are both hideous and stunning in equal measure. We see leg less goblins, the angle of death, speaking tumours, and seed-like elementals, or forest gods, who in death explode to create new life covering vast areas of cities in flora and fauna.
Hell Boy 2, just as Hell Boy 1 was, is a visual masterpiece - but this time Guillermo has a bigger budget and the success of the first film behind him so, as amazing as the first film looked, everything is ramped up 10 fold here.
The extras on the Blu Ray revel that Del Toro had lots of ideas for creatures and monster in the first movie (most notably perhaps, Sammael; fans might remember him) but that due to budget restraints he simply couldn't do. However this time around he got use his ideas and bring them to life on screen.
Guillermo fans will recognise his work instantly anywhere, it's so stunning, original and distinctive. Yet for me it's the way he brings his creations to life and makes his films that make them so special. Nearly every monster we see is an actor in a costume. It's old school - there is very, very little CGI used here and that's what makes everything so amazing - on many levels. If you grew up watching film like Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and the myriad of 80s fantasy movies with props and monsters, that rather ironically make the realistic CGI creations look dead and souless in comparisson Hell Boy 2 is for you.
George Lucas take note: the fact that Del Toro chooses to use actors in costumes means, in his own words, 'every creature has a heart'. With actors inside them there's real emotion in each of them too, which makes them seem all the more real and alive when we seem them on screen. It means they can interact with the other actors and it's this, mixed with real, solid, hand built sets that makes Hell Boy 2 so special. The most spectacular example of this in the film is perhaps the Troll Market.
The Troll market is a living, breathing, vibrant pit of a place with winding streets and house and hundreds of 'REAL' creatures trading and going about their business. Human skins hang draped over market stall and beast sit smoking human hair from hookah pipes. Shot on location in an disused underground lime quarry its truly and magnificent example of the effort and detail Guillermo Del Toro puts into his films.
Those who doubt his dedication should watch the extras on the Blu Ray, which I'm happy to say is a transfer that does all the beautiful and ghastly scenery justice by looking sharp and detailed. They are some of the best I've ever seen on any Blu Ray - Nearly 4 hours of extra footage and documentaries will take you on a step by step through the creature creation process from concept, design, manufacture and make-up. It really is an interesting watch and I'm glad to say focusses on what this film is all about. The props, the creatures, the sets, and the fantastic fantasy mind of the genius that is Guillermo Del Toro. I could go on and on about this film but I'll leave it there and just say, I can't wait for hell boy 3.