Guillermo del Toro is the perfect director to bring the characters and events of Mike Mignola's horror comic Hellboy to the big screen, and manages here in the sequel to the mostly satisfying Hellboy
to create a fully realized and seamless vision of a fantastic underworld that overlaps with the everyday. Del Toro's unique sensibility, that combines a strong sense of whimsy and a keen eye for the macabre, matches precisely the story of an orphaned demon from Hell, raised by a kind-hearted gentleman who happens also to be an expert on the occult. Hellboy, as played by Ron Perlman, is one of the coolest fantasy heroes ever brought to the big screen; he's tough as nails with a heart of gold, both brutish and tender, the kind of guy who'd single-handedly destroy a monolithic monster, and save a kitty with the other hand.
Here Hellboy, or "Red" as he is known to his friends, has to deal with a rogue elf prince, who plans to eliminate humanity, because of its callous indifference to the magic and wonder of the world. At the same time Red's trying to figure out his girlfriend, a human torch played by Selma Blair (in my mind, her best role -- she's never looked better nor seemed so at ease in a role), and deal with the obnoxious authorities who want to impose rules on a force of nature. A scene where Hellboy and buddy Abe-sapian commiserate and get drunk to Barry Manilow's "Can't Smile Without You" is pitch perfect hilarious - yet the demons and monsters are inventive and scary and the swordplay, effects, and action is intense and thrilling throughout. While it may lack some of the profundity and depth of some of the greatest fantasy, you'd be hard pressed to find a fantasy thriller that is more flat out entertaining than this one, at least for those with a geek sensibility like me.