Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Rated 4.0

Mike Mignola’s crime-fighting comic book creations—a sort of road-company X-Men—are back: Hellboy Red (Ron Perlman), fire starter Liz (Selma Blair), Aquaman Abe (Doug Jones) and their querulous handler Manning (Jeffrey Tambor) from the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. Director Guillermo del Toro’s script has them taking on an elf prince (Luke Goss) who is fomenting a war between humanity and the world of fantastical creatures. For all the apocalyptic trappings of the story—and del Toro’s customary penchant for ghastly insects, impossible creatures and gleaming clockwork machines—the movie is surprisingly lighthearted, often very funny (especially in a drunken duet by Perlman and Jones to Barry Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You”), and it moves with the virile grace of a prizefighter.