Being a big fan of Hellboy’s previous film outing and of the various comics, Hellboy II: The Golden Army was a highly anticipated movies on my list. Could writer/director Guillermo Del Toro survive a change in studios? Could he give us something better than the first film and help ensure a third film? Luckily Del Toro was able to whether the change, but delivering something better is a different story all together.

Hellboy 2 gives us an all new original story from Del Toro with help from Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. The story begins with the tale of an age-old truce between the supernatural world and humans that came about due to King Balor’s use of the unstoppable Golden Army, clockwork machines that cannot be destroyed. The Army was so fierce that after their first use King Balor swears to never use them again and splits the crown that controls into three parts. Two of the pieces remain with the elves, but one piece is given to the humans. Balor’s son, Prince Nuada, played by Luke Goss, is against the truce and goes into self who exile until the day he feels his people will need him to lead them to victory.

Back at the B.P.R.D. we find that Hellboy, played by Ron Perlman, and Liz Sherman, played by Selma Blair, are a more intimate item than last time but they’ve hit a bump in the road of their relationship. We soon find out that Liz is pregnant and is hiding her pregnancy from Hellboy because she’s unsure as to how good of a father he’d be. Liz will have to put any doubts she may have to the side since the team is tasked to investigate an occurrence in downtown Manhattan where Prince Nuada has returned to the surface world and unleashed a horde of nasty creatures known as tooth fairies on an full auction-house. The tooth fairies are only a distraction as Nuada’s real goal is to steal humanity’s piece of the crown that controls the Golden Army.

Having overthrown his father as King of the Elves, Nuada needs one more piece of the crown to gain control of the Golden Army. A piece that his sister, Princess Nuala, played by Anna Walton, possesses. Taken the position of her fathers side, the princess knows that her brother cannot have the final piece so she goes into hiding where she crosses paths with B.P.R.D. agent Abe Sapien, played by Doug Jones. From there the princess is given protection within the B.P.R.D., but she knows she’s not safe since her brother shares a psychic bond with her and can easily find her.

It’s safe to say that the outcome is pretty obvious, Hellboy and company swoop in to save the day. To think otherwise would be naive. Still, the story itself is pretty satisfying taking into account its originality. Unfortunately, there is some clunky dialogue at times that can bog the story down a bit and it will make you wonder if you’re really watching a Hellboy movie. Some of the dialogue coming from the characters seems so out of place that it became disappointing at times listening to them speak.

The acting is top notch, Perlman plays the perfect Hellboy and Doug Jones does his usual excellent job portraying Abe Sapien, and this time he gets to voice the character as well. We’re also introduced to Johann Krauss in the film, and he’s voiced by Family Guy’s own Seth McFarlane. The rest of the cast does an excellent job as well. The visual effects are absolutely brilliant, but at this point that’s to be expected when watching a Del Toro movie. He’s one of the few directors that still feels that actual costumes and prosthetics work better in a movie and he’s absolutely spot on. He various characters look alive and real, making you believe that the elves, goblins and other fantasy creatures are real. Del Toro believes that cgi should compliment a movie, not be inundated by it. Take note Mr. Lucas.

Overall, Hellboy II is your typical summer popcorn flick. It’s got laughs, action, and a story that’s easy to follow. Unfortunately it falls a bit flat compared to the first film. Still, this isn’t a movie that should be avoided.