Hellboy II: The Golden Army (12A)

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The Independent Culture

Guillermo del Toro serves up another witchy brew of ghouls, guns and gizmos as his demon-hero Hellboy (Ron Perlman) endures both a media backlash and a relationship wobble with his pyrotechnic sweetheart Liz (Selma Blair).

Duty calls when a ruthless underworld leader, Prince Nuada (Luke Goss), tries to summon a dormant army of golden warriors that will annihilate humanity, or something, echoing a rather similar plot point from last week's Mummy threequel.

Del Toro's visual invention is beyond doubt, and his range of reference – Barry Manilow, Vivaldi and Tennyson – more eclectic than the average blockbuster. Perlman's cantankerous superhero is a winner, too, and one can imagine a whole generation of kids who will learn to greet every moment of adversity with Hellboy's deadpan signature, "Crap".

All the same, this isn't a patch on the phantsamagoric splendour of Pan's Labyrinth, over-egging every set-piece and outstaying its welcome by at least half an hour.