Over the last few years Guillermo Del Toro has been building up a real reputation as one of the most visually interesting directors around and for some it appears that he has suddenly arrived but he has been making films for over ten years.  His early films like ‘Devils Backbone’ and ‘Cronos’ were foreign language horrow films that got great reviews but weren’t seen by many. His first break into Hollywood was the monster flick ‘Mimic’, whih did okay business but was his cut was messed around by the studios.  His next foray into Hollywood was the sequel to ‘Blade’, a film that almost out did it’s predecessor and suddenly people started to take notice. The film that really got him noticed though was 2006’s ‘Pans Labyrinth’, a fantasy film about a girl stuck between the horrors of the spanish civil war and a fantasy world full of weird creatures.  It was loved by nearly all the critics and shockingly lost out in the best Foreign film catergory at the Oscars.  before this masterpiece though he made another film that didn’t do a huge amount of business but was pretty well liked, that film was Hellboy, a great little comic book movie with great characters and a lot of humour. Unfortunately the film studion wern’t as sure about the characters popularity so the budget wasn’t massive which held the film back a bit. Now with the success of Pan’s Labyrinth and the upcoming Hobbit movies studios are willing to let guillermo have free reign and it shows in Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

   it’s all change at the The department of Paranormal investigations, after Professor Brooms death Hellboy has lost his mentor, but has now got hsi relationship back on with the Pyrokinetic Liz, though when they have an arguement it’s pretty explosive. Myers has also gone, sent of to Alasaka, so in his place thay have sent Johann Krauss and cloud of gas in a suit, really!  This time they are trying to save the world from Luke goss’s Prince Nuada, who wants to break a ancient agreement between the creatures and the humans that has seen them live seperate lives not bothering each other. To do this he needs three pieces of a cown which when worn gives him control of the majestic Golden Army.  The snag in his plan is that his sister has one piece and refuses to give it to him and heads of to Department for help, but can they really stop him?

   The first thing you will notice in this film is the style. Del Toro has really gone to town with his notebookand created some amazing visuals. This is almost an art house blockbuster, the attention to detail is immense, and anyone who saw Pan’s Labyrinth will see the crossover between the two films.  One thing that Del Toro does well is practical effects and the array of monsters in the film is amazing, and they are nearly all suits. The scene in the monster market is jaw dropping, it’s the kind of scene you will want to watch again on Blu Ray and freeze to take it all in.  He also manages to even make fairies scary.  If this doesn’t win any Oscars for art and costumes I will be shocked.  One scene that shows how daring Del Toro can be, is the scene where a young Hellboy is being told the story of the Golden Army, and rather than have the story be seen in flashabck with actors, he does it with a marionette style which just works so well.

  A few members of the original cast are back, Ron pearlman, obviously returns as Hellboy and really no one else could be, he has nade this character his own and this time we get a lot more of him which is great.  Selam Blair returns as Liz Sherman, Hellboys better half and this time her character is more fleshed out.  Doug Jones returns as Abe Sapien except this time he gets to voice him as well as do the physical acting, he also does the body work for a few other characters as well. Jeffery Tambour is back as Manning, Hellboys frustrated boss who is trying to keep him secret from the world but keeps finding clips of him on Youtube.  Ex Bros man Luke Goss makes his second Del Toro film appearance after Blade II, as the Prince Nuala and surprisingly isn’t bad at all.

  This film does that rare thing of being better than it’s original, and it’s mainly down to Del Toro being let free with his imagination. Also the story is better and the script is funnier as well, there is a scene where a drunk Hellboy and Abe sing along to Barry Manilow, that was one of the funniest scenes in a film all year. If you loved the first film, like I did, then you definitely have to see this, even if you dodn’t see the first film go and check this one out just to give your eyes a real visual feast. my immediate though coming out of the cinema after watching this was, I really can’t wait to see what he will do with the Hobbit. Rating 8/10