Last Friday RT visited a post-production house tucked away in Soho, London where Guillermo del Toro happens to be hard at work frantically editing his blockbuster sequel Hellboy II: The Golden Army. He graciously offered to personally screen us several brand new sequences from the film, with instructions to tell the world what we saw. So here goes, though remember, although we weren’t screened anything particularly spoilerish, there’s plenty of information within, so if you want your Hellboy fresh then click away now…
Int. Army Base, New Mexico – Night
First up, a pre-credit prologue sequence in which an 11 year-old Hellboy is in his pyjamas, brushing his massive teeth. The tyke playing him – apparently in heavy prosthetics – looks freakishly similar to Ron Perlman. In steps dad, Professor Bloom (played by a rakish looking John Hurt), who begins telling him the story of the titular Golden Army…
Cut to an animated sequence – modelled on puppet theatre – depicting a mythical battle between Magical Beings – lead by King Balor – and Man, all of whom are represented by Mike Mignola-esque stylised marionettes. Eager to win the war, the king enlists the help of master goblin blacksmiths to build an army of powerful mechanical soldiers – the titular Golden Army. However, after seeing the sinister metallic goons mercilessly butcher mankind, he has a change of heart, and brokers a truce with the humans. His son – Prince Nuada – looks on, clearly unhappy with the peaceful arrangement. Cut back to mini-Hellboy who, as he’s tucked in to bed, says, “It’s just a story, right, Pops?”
“Well my son,” replies Professor Bloom, “I’m sure you’ll find out…”
The use of puppet figures felt like an original and characteristically leftfield way to show this mythical, fantastical time – though del Toro told us the decision originally stemmed from budgetary concerns about shooting the entire prologue practically – and it’s the first of several sequences we saw with the director’s distinctive handprints stamped all over them, and with reverential nods to Hellboy creator Mike Minola’s signature style.
Int. Blackwood Building – Night
Del Toro left the footage rolling, showing us a fiery, intense CG animated credit sequence, with the camera zooming through cogs and other arcane machinery – presumably the inards of the bullion-bound warriors of the title. The pounding opening music then cuts abruptly and we’re now outside an auction house with a scene that introduces some of the villains of the piece. A plum-voiced auctioneer is going about his business flogging ancient artefacts when he – and the stiff-necked buyers – are interrupted by the not-inconsiderable sight of Luke Goss’s ashen-faced baddie faced Prince Nuada, holding a ruddy great spear.
After berating the frightened onlookers for their modern, decadent complacency, he announces he’s after one of the lots on sale. Behind them the door then bursts open, and the camera focuses on a huge metal hand on the floor attached to a chain. The chain is winched backwards, and as the camera pans back, we see the appendage belongs to Nuada’s fearsome henchman Wink. We won’t reveal any more, as the artefact in question is the story’s key narrative drive, but Goss’s look and performance – with the actor not looking dissimilar from his days in ’80s boy band Bros – suggests a classic, slightly tragic, but still perversely evil new nemesis for Hellboy and his team.
Continue on to the next page for more exclusive concept art from Hellboy II!
Int. B.R.P.D. Medical Bay – Night
After a brief exchange of Spanish with editor Bernat Vilaplana, del Toro switched to a later scene that gives an insight into not only one of the other new characters – and a new addition to the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Development – protoplasmic mystic Johann (voiced by Family Guy‘s Seth MacFarlane), but also the dark, quirky sense of humour running through the film. The gang are searching for clues about the culprit of the auction house heist and have captured one of Prince Nuada’s magical beasties.
Displaying the kind of brilliantly insane logic commonplace in the movie, Johann decides to use his ectoplasmic powers to revive a ‘tooth fairy’ – a small winged beast who doesn’t leave you money for your discarded incisors, but instead viciously eats his way through your body, beginning – naturally – with your teeth. The critter lets slip that he remembers the sounds of a Troll Market whilst the rest of the BPRD look on puzzled, and then promptly coughs, splutters and dies again. We thought he looked quite cute.
Ext. East Brooklyn Bridge – Night
The crew then tool themselves with special “Schufftein glasses” that enable them to detect supernatural beings disguising themselves as humans (as trolls are wont to do) and go off in search of the Market. They approach a bent-over old lady near the Brooklyn Bridge whose collection of cats tips them off that she may be a troll – they’re delicious to trolls, naturally – and she leads them to the Market’s entrance, but then refuses to give them the combination to the ornate gates.
Her usefulness expended, Hellboy – true-to-character – smacks her in the face, sending her flying and prompting an hysterical laugh from del Toro who told us he adores Hellboy’s idiosyncrasies. They eventually enter the Troll Market, and we’re given a Tatooine cantina-from-Star Wars-on-acid-like glimpse into the mystical denizens of Hellboy’s supernatural world, with the director’s camera swooping past some of the most inventive, expressive and downright weird creature designs we’ve ever seen. The scene, as with the other sequences we were shown, was teeming with the kind of beastialogical detail the director hinted at with his work on Cronos, Mimic and Pan’s Labyrinth.
Int. Golden Army Chamber – Night
BIG Spoiler Alert
Our final slice of sneak peakery was a hugely impressive action sequence towards the end of the film that highlighted the huge scope of the movie compared to the first instalment. We are now in a huge hall, with the team in the centre of the room surrounded by, you’ve guessed-it, the Golden Army. Yep, Prince Nuada has managed to revive the legion, and the nefarious scion has ordered them to crush the B.R.P.D. team.
What follows is a raucous, frenetic and kinetically shot set-piece, with the director’s roving camera swooping and darting around our heroes as they try to avoid a metallic pummelling. Hellboy himself is at the centre of the action, with the demonic dauphin jumping from robot to robot, firing his pistol into their unprotected innards and doing his best to stay alive. We also see Johann find another novel use for his ectoplasmic ways, employing his multi-purpose ether to turn one of the golden soldiers against the others. As the action rolls on, the camera pans out, showing more and more conscripts in Nuada’s army awakening from their glowing red cocoons.
At this point we ran out of time, but were left in do doubt that Hellboy II: The Golden Army, will be a visually breathtaking, quirky, funny and distinctly individual film. The clips were dense, with del Toro’s signature directorial style, teeming with horror, comic and mythical references that sets the film apart from this summer’s other big budget blockbusters. The humour and characteristic banter from the first film remain intact, but with the scope expanded and the action ramped up this time around. Here’s hoping the finished film will be as awesome as this footage suggests!
For more exclusive artwork from Hellboy II, click here to head to our sister site IGN Movies.