Hellboy II: early footage review

At a special screening in London yesterday, Guillermo Del Toro introduced a brief look at some footage from the forthcoming Hellboy II. And here's what we thought...

Guillermo Del Toro’s original Hellboy (2004), based on Mike Mignola’s comic book, was what you would call a quiet blockbuster, garnering a devoted fanbase but slipping ever so slightly under the popular radar. As far as this writer was concerned, a sequel for HB and co was very welcome news indeed, particularly with man of the moment Del Toro back at the helm. And we in the Den were lucky enough to get a sneak peak at a scene from the sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

Introducing the scene, Del Toro assured us that it was far from finished, with a poor sound mix and unfinished effects. Even so, what we saw was pretty spectacular. Following a (literally) explosive argument between HB and Liz, the couple are investigating a seemingly abandoned building with the help of their demon ally, Abe Sapien. As HB makes matters worse with Liz by way of miscommunication on his radio, the group are attacked by a swarm of ‘Tooth Fairies’. The proceeding fight concludes in fiery fashion with one character plummeting from the high building.

Funny, tense and action packed, this is a lot of fun, and a good indication of the level of excitement we can expect from the sequel. Not only that, but it is clear that careful attention has once again been paid to the development of these unique characters. Mignola’s known involvement should have put fans’ minds at rest long ago, but it is obvious that Del Toro more than shares his enthusiasm for this universe.

Furthermore, the trailers have so far suggested that a lot of influence has been drawn from what Del Toro likes to call the ‘physical’ beings in Pan’s Labyrinth. This scene certainly confirms the similarities between the creatures in the two films – the Tooth Fairies are menacing little buggers, and reminiscent of the Del Toro critters we’ve seen before. Somehow, over the last five years, the director has been able to create his very own brand of fantasy. His creatures are extraordinary, and really stand apart from the usual, samey CG fare other blockbusters have recently been guilty of.

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According to Del Toro, thirty-two different beings have been created for Hellboy II. We can only wait with baited breath for the unveiling of his Golden Army…