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Hellboy II: The Golden Army is a 2008 American supernatural superhero film based on the fictional Dark Horse Comics character Hellboy, starring Ron Perlman. The movie was written and directed by Guillermo del Toro and is a sequel to the 2004 film Hellboy, which del Toro also directed. Perlman reprises his role as the eponymous character. The film was commercially released on July 11, 2008 in the United States and Canada by Universal Pictures.
In Christmas of 1955, an 11-year-old Hellboy is told a bedtime story by his adoptive father, Trevor Broom, involving an ancient war between man and magical creatures, started by man's greed. After years of battle and defeat of the magical creatures' forces, the master of the goblin blacksmiths offers to build an indestructible mechanical army for the elven King Balor. Influenced by his son Prince Nuada, Balor orders the building of this Golden Army. The humans are devastated by the Golden Army, which mercilessly destroys them. Balor is ridden with guilt, and forms a truce with the humans: Man will keep his cities and the magical creatures will keep their forests. Nuada does not agree with the truce, and leaves in exile. The magical crown controlling the army is broken into three pieces, one piece going to the humans and the other two kept by the elves.
In the present, Nuada declares war on the humans. He collects the first piece of the crown from an auction, killing everyone at the site by unleashing tooth fairies, and kills his father for the second piece of the crown. His twin sister, Princess Nuala, escapes with the final piece. Meanwhile, Hellboy is having issues with his girlfriend Liz, and trouble accepting that their organization, the B.P.R.D., must remain undercover. While investigating the auction massacre, Hellboy allows himself to be revealed to the world. In the commotion, Abe Sapien discovers that Liz is pregnant. Furious about the public unveiling, the Bureau's superiors send a new B.P.R.D. agent, the ectoplasmic medium Johann Krauss, to take command. With Krauss in charge, the team tracks the tooth fairies to the troll market, an enormous merchant city hidden under the Brooklyn Bridge, to search for clues. Abe stumbles onto Nuala, who has obtained a map leading to the Golden Army, and quickly falls in love with her. She is brought under B.P.R.D. protection following an attack by Nuada's sidekick, the troll Wink, and an elemental forest god, both of which Hellboy kills. During the elemental fight, Hellboy is questioned by Nuada whether it is right to fight for the humans when he too is considered a monster.
Nuada tracks his sister to B.P.R.D. headquarters using their magical bond, which causes them to share wounds and read each other's thoughts. Sensing her brother's arrival, Nuala unsuccessfully tries to destroy the map and hides the final piece of the crown within one of Abe's books. Nuada kidnaps his sister and critically wounds Hellboy with his spear. Unable to remove the spear shard, Liz, Abe and Krauss take Hellboy to the location of the Golden Army in The Giants Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. They encounter a Bethmoora goblin who brings them before the Angel of Death, who has been awaiting their arrival. Though warned that Hellboy will doom humanity if he lives, and that she will suffer the most from it, Liz pleads for Hellboy's life. The Angel removes the shard from Hellboy's chest and tells Liz to give him a reason to live. She reveals to Hellboy that he is going to be a father, and he recovers.
The goblin leads the team to the resting place of the Golden Army, where Nuada awaits them. In exchange for Nuala, Abe gives him the last piece of the crown. With the crown reformed, Nuada awakens the Golden Army, ordering them to kill the team. The group is unable to defeat the soldiers as they magically repair themselves. Hellboy challenges Nuada for the right to the crown, and Nuada is forced to accept, since Hellboy's father was a Prince of Sheol. Hellboy defeats Nuada and spares his life, but Nuada tries stabbing him. Nuala commits suicide to stop her brother: the dying Nuada tells Hellboy he will have to choose whether humanity or the magical beings must die. Abe psychically tells Nuala his feelings for her before she and her brother die. Liz melts the crown, deactivating the Golden Army. As the team leaves the underground compound, Tom Manning reprimands them. Hellboy, Liz and Abe resign from the B.P.R.D. Hellboy contemplates his future life with Liz and their baby. Liz corrects him, saying "babies", surprising him with the fact that she is pregnant with twins.
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- Ron Perlman as Hellboy: An immensely powerful demon who works for the government organization Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.). Guillermo del Toro described the character's dilemma in the sequel, "[He] has always fought on the side of humans, but this [destruction of fantasy] pushes his buttons to reconsider." In the sequel, Hellboy is armed with an enormous new gun called "The Big Baby", which fires flare-like bullets. Montse Ribé plays a young version of Hellboy in an opening flashback.
- Selma Blair as Liz Sherman: A pyrokinetic member of BPRD and Hellboy's girlfriend. Blair described her character as more engaging in the sequel, "In the first one she was afraid to take a step. She was completely a zombie, not wanting to own up to her power and having the memory of what she'd created in her life... I was really eager to come and play Liz with a little more vibrancy." Blair also had short hair for her role, avoiding long hair from her portrayal in the first film, which she felt "brought her face down". The actress emphasized Liz Sherman's growth in the sequel, "She's looking to the future much more, and things are happening in this one that she has to buck up... I think you're dealing with a lot knowing this young girl that we last saw as very damaged, and now she's with this guy, and all these people around her, I think, we've really had to step up a strength, and a confidence in her so that I don't look like the little baby kid sister tagging along."
- Doug Jones as Abe Sapien: An aquatic empath who works for BPRD with Hellboy. Jones said of his return to the role after the first film, "He's been an absolute treat for me to play this time. He's written with so many different colours and levels and there's a love interest... And his buddy time with Hellboy is more concrete and his brother/sister time with Liz is even better." Jones believed that Abe Sapien became "the brains, the intellect of the team" while Hellboy protects his character because he is still "kind of innocent". The actor pointed to his character's adolescence with love, "His love life is something that's never been tapped into before... So just like a 13-year-old with his first crush, this is how you're going to see Abe this time. A portion of him. Will this affect his decision-making powers?" Unlike the first movie, where Abe's voice was dubbed by David Hyde Pierce, Doug Jones provided the voice himself. In addition to Abe, Jones also portrayed two more characters in the film.
- Angel of Death: A female angel with androgynous characteristics. Jones explained his portrayal, "The script refers to the angel as a her and that's what I do. I think she has feminine qualities, but she's not totally a woman either. And that's okay. I like characters that keep you guessing."
- Chamberlain: The door keeper for King Balor. The creature is long, gangly, eight feet tall and wears silk and velvet robes. It also has long, spindly fingers, which filmmakers mobilized with servos and which Jones wore as extensions of his own hands.
- John Alexander and James Dodd as Johann Krauss: Krauss is a German psychic whose ectoplasmic being is contained in a suit after a botched séance. Originally, filmmakers planned to create a computer-generated version of the glass fishbowl helmet, but with the cost being prohibitive, they created an actual helmet. To ensure the invisibility of the actor's head under the glass, perspective and mirror tricks were used. The helmet was controlled by two puppeteers, so the heavy contraption had to be shared between Alexander and Dodd. John Alexander also plays:
- Bethmoora Goblin: A legless goblin who helps Hellboy and the team find the Angel of Death. He is the master goblin smith who forged the Golden Army.
- Seth MacFarlane voices Johann Krauss: MacFarlane took over voicing duties from Thomas Kretschmann, after del Toro decided that Kretschmann's voice and the mechanical sound FX to Johann's suit did not mesh well.
- Luke Goss as Prince Nuada: King Balor's son and a martial arts expert of extraordinary proficiency. Goss was previously cast as mutant vampire Jared Nomak in del Toro's 2002 film Blade II, and the director approached the actor to be cast in Hellboy II. The only other actor considered for the part was Charlie Hunnam. Goss trained with action director and former-Jackie Chan Stunt Team member, Brad Allan, learning sword and spear skills for six to seven months for his role. He and Anna Walton also learned ancient Gaelic from a dialog coach for their lines. Goss did not perceive Nuada as evil, explaining, "It's issues, his people, he's part of what he truly believes. I don't think, really, he's so deluded... [He] is driven by an ethic that was instilled by the person he has problems [with; that is,] his father, and inevitably, that leads into the conflict with him and Hellboy." Goss also noted that his character admired and revered his twin sister, portrayed by Anna Walton. He said of the prince and the princess, "There is an incestuous relationship that's not maybe overly obvious to everybody, but some people hopefully will pick up on the fact, certainly from my direction towards her."
- Anna Walton as Princess Nuala: King Balor's daughter and Nuada's twin sister. She is described as "very light" while Nuada is "very dark", creating a yin and yang dynamic. She elaborated on the incestuous tones between her character and Prince Nuada, "He's the dark side and she's the light side and they're pulled apart and pulled back together again, and she's trying to get away because she knows there is something she has to do. He can't let that go and they can't really do anything without each other so it's a really interesting thing." Her character also forms a relationship with Abe Sapien, and Walton noted their similarities, "They are both slightly lost souls and they understand each other." Walton spoke of her character's sense of purpose, "She feels very strongly about what she has to do in the film, and then her absolute connection and love for the Earth and what we are given. That's what she's here to protect... Her relationship with her brother, and how he is almost a part of her but she has to break away and will do whatever it takes to stop him from achieving what he wants to achieve, which is the mass destruction of mankind."
- Jeffrey Tambor as Tom Manning: Head of the B.P.R.D., he has a slightly antagonistic relationship with Hellboy.
- John Hurt as Trevor Bruttenholm: Hellboy's adoptive father, he is seen in the beginning of the film telling young Hellboy the story of the Golden Army.
- Brian Steele as Mr. Wink: A giant cave troll who was originally conceived by Guillermo del Toro. Wink was sculpted by Mario Torres, and the costume was worn by Brian Steele. In the film, Wink's right arm has a giant metal fist. The fist was designed by filmmakers to be made of heavy plastic to stay light enough for motors to operate the mechanical fingers. The fist could also be physically detached and used as a projectile without any computer-generated imagery used. Several of Mike Mignola's comics characters wield similar mechanical fists on chains, including the Kriegaffes used by Herman von Klempt. Likewise, Mr. Wink has an old wound on the left side of his face that has closed one of his eyes. Del Toro said that he named Mr. Wink after Selma Blair's one-eyed dog (which Blair confirms in a commentary track for the DVD release). Steele also portrays:
- Cathedral Head: Another troll, the owner of a map shop who gives Princess Nuala the hidden map
- Fragglewump: A monstrous Scottish troll that masquerades as a sweet old lady and feeds on kittens.
- Cronie Troll: A spice shop owner who gets in an argument with Hellboy in the troll market.
- Roy Dotrice as King Balor: The one-armed king of Elfland. All of his dialogue is in Gaelic.