It starts out with a LOTR-esque story, which I kind of felt was a sign of lack of creativity on the writers part but it was still good. I have never read the actual comic, or excuse me, graphic novel(s) but according to the Christianity Today review it is a bit different. Here is an excerpt from the article:
"In the original Hellboy, the villains were adversaries like demons, Nazis, gods of chaos, assassins and necromancers—characters understood to be evil more or less by nature or by definition, like orcs, vampires or witches. Hellboy II shifts from this kind of mythic good-vs-evil storytelling to something more like classical mythology, with variously flawed characters on all sides.
Except for an occasional cross or rosary, the vestigial Christian influence from Hellboy is virtually gone here. In its place is something a lot like a work of pagan imagination, at times partially reminiscent of the worlds of Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki, with his ambiguous antagonists and animistic spirit-creatures."
The CT review goes on to discuss how good & evil is not always black & white. Some really good people do really bad things & sometimes bad people do really good things. Also, sometimes people do good things with bad intentions or bad things for what they believe are good reasons. Life is not easy & this movie does demonstrate that to a point. It doesn't dwell on it. It is more of a "background noise" that most viewers will not pay much attention to.
I also agree with the CT review that the character development in both this one & the prequel is lacking. You start to get a look in on it in this film but it often feels like we were thrown into the middle of a story without really knowing who these characters really are, why they do what they do, & what is their main motivation.
It is obvious there will be more Hellboy's to come & by the prophesy from The Angel of Death. Which, as most prophesies from The Angel of Death goes, does not seem to be a happy one.
There are a couple of more things in the movie I would discuss but I don't want to ruin the movie for anyone. The CT article did have some discussion questions at the end, which is their usual format, that I will post at the end of this. So, if you see the movie, you might want to just consider these questions to help you to better critique the movie. I know what you are thinking, "I go to the movies for fun & to escape reality for a few hours. It's just a movie, I know what I believe, I don't need to over-analyze everything in life. I don't want to take homework to a movie. Kristy, you are taking life a little too seriously, just relax, enjoy the movie." I usually watch movies that way too, but I am trying to take a different approach. I want to start critically analyzing the things (movies, shows, books, music, etc...) that I expose myself to. We do not realize what an effect media has on our morality & the way we view life.
Last fall, I was watching entirely too much TV. I liked so many of the new shows but I started really paying attention to what I subjecting my unconscious mind to & realized that it probably wasn't the "true," "noble," "right," "pure," "lovely," "admirable," "excellent," or "praiseworthy" things that the Bible instructs use to dwell on. (Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. -- Philippians 4:8) The Bible also instructs us to "Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil." (I Thessalonians 5:21-22).
So, I decided to purge my TiVo recording list. The only shows I left were Jericho, Heroes, The Office, Psych, & Monk (I also record some cooking shows, some fitness shows, some Brit Coms, & some PBS shows but most of those are not regular shows, they just play one or two every once in a while so I didn't count those; I was only counting the mainstream regular shows). Even though these shows may not also fit with in those verses they do have some redeemable qualities & compared to what is on TV today & what I was watching before, these are down right wholesome entertainment. Even though purging my playlist was difficult at first, I do not miss even one of those shows. The whole experience taught me than I need to be more attentive to what I am watching, reading, & listening to because, even though I did not notice it, those shows were affecting my though life, they way I viewed certain moral issues, & made me question many of my basic beliefs.
I don't mean to preach but I would suggest that you pay attention to what you subject yourself to. Some people are more impressionable than others & I am one of them so I have to be vigilant. I certainly did not mean to make this near as long as it has turned out but I got on a soapbox I guess.
Hellboy II Discussion Questions (from CT article):
1. How problematic is the notion of a "good demon" in a comic-book story? Consider the notion of a "good witch" like Glinda in The Wizard of Oz. How are they these the same? How are they different?
2. What might it mean to say that man was "created with a hole in his heart"? Is there more than one way to interpret this statement? In what sense might it be true? In what sense might it be false?
3. What does pregnancy mean for an unmarried couple? What should such a couple do? How is it different for a married couple?
4. Can you imagine being offered a choice like the one the Angel of Death offers Liz? Do you think her choice is defensible or not? Why or why not? What do you think you would do?