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I can’t sleep. I’m drunk in love with HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY and it really is everything I could have wanted it to be. For years, Guillermo has been a wildly schizophrenic filmmaker – making brilliant intimate art genre films with CRONOS, DEVIL’S BACKBONE & PAN’S LABYRINTH… while also making Studio pictures that are… perhaps infused with approximately 45% of the potential glorious madness that Guillermo could have given them… MIMIC, BLADE II & the first HELLBOY. There’s a lot of reasons for that. For one, those films were made with studios that he had to fight with to get every percentage of what he wanted on screen. That said – even at the end – the films had a remarkable and exciting quality – but it just wasn’t everything it could be. HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY is the first big budget film by Guillermo Del Toro that for every second you can tell there’s this crazy fucking mad-mexican genius pouring tequila, squirt, sea salt and lime juice down your gullet, spinning your head, bouncing it 3 times off his belly and pushing you out of your chair at the end with a dazed euphoric high. He calls the process a Muppet or Moppet (I can’t quite tell) – but the cinematic equivalent is finally here. Now here’s the thing… HELLBOY II cost just $85 million – that’s $35 million less than SPEED RACER, that’s $55 million less than IRON MAN, that’s $65 million less than both HANCOCK and THE INCREDIBLE HULK, $100 million less than the latest Indy film, and $115 million less than THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN. And yet… it out does all of them in terms of entertainment, imagination, spectacle and just old fashioned fucking fun. This film is HUGE and MAGICAL! This isn’t STAR WARS – this isn’t anything that anyone has seen anything like before – and that’s fucking amazing. People seem to like to compare the Troll Market to the Cantina Scene from the original Star Wars – but it isn’t that at all. The Troll Market is a scene that will have your eyes dancing trying to catch all the detail. In the Cantina – it was played like a game of flashcards showing off each mask and costume sitting or standing in perfect individual lighting and framing. Guillermo has created a market where hundreds of things are going on. You ever been to a bustling marketplace – or stopped to look at something for a second only to have the person with you continue on – and you had to work hard to catch back up to them because it was so bustling? Well that feeling, that excitement is here – but there’s not a human in sight – these creatures are all going about their business – getting the supplies for their existence, their entertainment and it’s so fucking cool! They’re at all different scales too – but nothing stands completely out from the crowd… including Hellboy and Abe. You can follow what’s going on, because Guillermo keeps the CHAOS in the background and we follow our characters – it’s just – the background is so vibrant and alive and thrilling that you just want to step through it all… hell, I even pointed at one creature cuz it took my breath away – then caught myself… this is a movie… you don’t point at things, but the screen ceased to be a screen and felt like a wondrous window to hundreds of amazing things going on – be they costumed, creatures or computer generated – Just stunning. The ELEMENTAL sequence… Ya know, the action part of it – it’s outstanding, but the epilogue to the action… sweet Jesus. It truly is something astonishing. You know… there’s only one thing I can compare it to. When I was reading comics as a boy – I remember reading FANTASTIC FOUR in order. And what we’ve done with all these comic movies is watch and experience together – a whole mess of “issues” – but when I suddenly came to FF #48, 49 & 50. The original Galactus storyline… It felt like I could feel my imagination grow. I felt the same way when I read the Phoenix storyline. Along with THE WATCHMEN. It’s like when I saw that big ass statue move in JASON & THE ARGONAUTS… or when the T-1000 walked through some bars and his gun went klink… Or the time those dinosaurs grazed on those trees and John Williams’ music swelled… It was one of those sequences. One of those sequences that makes your eyes water with the sweet elixir of possibilities… of dreams and the wonder of what is playing before you. Guillermo has never done that to me before. But the aftermath of the Elemental sequence… it’s just the sort of thing that you’ve never thought to see before – and it’s not just to make you feel that way… but the characters that are living it to feel that way too. THAT’S THE KEY. It’s there to serve the story – imagine that? It’s there to motivate and to question motivations. It’s there to make us LOVE the fantastic and to be so amazing that characters like Hellboy, Abe, Liz and Johann… fantastic characters in their own right… characters that have seen things we people wouldn’t believe… this is one of those moments that once we’re all gone – ya might think back to as something that will go missing like teardrops in the rain. It’s just cinematic poetry. And my one problem moment of the film came after that scene. And I understand – the characters and the audience has to be brought back into the world we live in, that they live in. There has to be the contrast to compare with… and it left me feeling like I wanted to just have nothing to do with the real world ever again. I actually felt downright shame for humanity and anger. And I was feeling to good to feel that way. Like I said – I know I was supposed to feel that way, I just didn’t want to feel that way… not when I was so in love with the world I was in. Essentially though – Del Toro is explaining much of the same thematic ground as he did in PAN’S LABYRINTH – but more directly here. Both films deal with the line between Reality and Fantasy – but this film attempts to hold reality accountable for trying to stomp out fantasy… and Fantasy wants to fight back. They’re tired of hiding, just like our hero – and want their day in the sun. It’s a pity they feel they need bloody footprints to do it. Not that we see blood in this film. This is 100% kid safe. Nothing graphic at all – and the monsters and creatures are not so much the stuff of horror as they are of fantasy, so don’t worry about the young’uns – especially if you’ve given them proper doses of the fantastic. Guillermo has really done wonders with this film. Not only is it a film that plays seriously with Comic Book material – but doesn’t disappear into the trap of dull seriousness. Don’t take my word for it though…. Check it out for yourself. I’m hoping the film performs, because oddly… as silly an ending as it is, I just can’t wait to see exactly what is in Hellboy, Abe and Liz’s future. Of course it looks like we’ll have perhaps 6 or more years if we’re to see a sequel and completion to this trilogy – which Guillermo mentioned would bring back the Nazis and possibly Lobster Johnson as played by Bruce Campbell. That alone is reason to clone Guillermo.

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