I thoroughly enjoyed Hellboy I but don't think it was that big a hit when it originally came out. I appreciated it more after I saw Pan's Labyrinth and realized that Guillermo Del Toro was the director for both. I also watched the extra scenes on the Pan's Labyrinth DVD so watched the director's interviews and some of the extras as to how the creatures were created. I really looked forward to seeing Hellboy II. Hellboy II I think was released during an unfortunate time in the summer after the huge hit Ironman and right before the phenom of the summer, The Dark Knight. It is not a slasher film and it is not your normal superhero film so I can see it being overlooked by regular movie goers.
I personally liked the film. There are a lot of subplots and layers and character developement in the film, lots of complexities and Del Toro manages to craft all of them into a cohesive whole. There is the basic good guys vs bad guys plot. There is a truce between greedy man and the elves and the Prince of Elve is basically pissed because human don't even remember it and have destroyed the forests and he wants to unleash the Golden Army on the world and destroy human kind. I totally luv'd Prince Nuada/Luke Goss. I like it when even the villan is multilayered. His henchman, Mr. Wink is also his friend. He loves his father and his sister (some viewers thought there was a bit more there) but he will hurt them to further his future plans. I really liked when he asked Hellboy what he will do in regards to the elemental. "if you don't command you must obey".
Big Red also had his moments; rescuing the baby and holding it his tail. Yes the tail is prehensile. Red trying to live with girlfriend Liz. Wanting to be loved by everyone, but hey this is New York and you are a big red demon with horns and a tail and a bad temper. One of the most hilarious moments is Red's fight with his boss, the gas man and a bank of lockers. That was funny. Red tries to be the big dumb jock who likes his TV and beer and yet the situations in the world and his relationships are forcing him to think, to stretch outside of his comfort zone and it is quiet painfull and funny. It is to die for to watch Red and Abe get drunk and sing Barry Manilow.
I like how the film shows that faery is not Disney's Tinkerbell, it is Hellboy's Tooth Fairy. Believe me you will think twice about the Tooth Fairy after you see this film. Much of the folklore here is based on Celtic sources and it is nice to see the finale supposedly based in Ireland. (Actually filmed in Hungary and the Czech Republic). It is a beautifully crafted film and well worth the ticket price. Enjoy!