Hellboy II: The Golden Army
For such an inelegant lug of a hero, Hellboy sure does inspire Guillermo del Toro to create some baroque and near-magical settings for him. Whether it's a degenerate bazaar that's half Diagon Alley and half Mos Eisley or Hellboy's beautifully rendered foes--from a monstrous forest god and tiny demonic "tooth fairies" to the titular army of Rube Goldberg killing machines--the sequel to del Toro's 2004 Hellboy may not live up to its predecessor's level of wit, but it more than matches the original's visual flair. Del Toro again affords plenty of space for Ron Perlman's dry, guileless comic delivery as the titular character, but Hellboy's one-liners and "flawed" character traits are very nearly subsumed in all the filigreed set dressings and CGI effects. The thing that made the first Hellboy such a joy was the way del Toro balanced the questionable personality of a funny and brave but generally unlikable character with the idea that there's a transcendent, invisible world where good and evil fight right underneath our noses. That idea is sharpened to the point of silliness in Hellboy II, but it hardly matters, as del Toro delivers a movie that breezily manages to be as funny and humane as Iron Man but with far more visual imagination.