Australian Council on Children and the Media

Hellboy II - The Golden Army

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Not suitable under 12, PG to 15 (Violence, disturbing scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Hellboy II - The Golden Army
  • a review of Hellboy II - The Golden Army completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 28 August 2008.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence, disturbing scenes and themes
Children aged 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and themes.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Hellboy II - The Golden Army
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Fantasy violence
Length 119 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Hellboy II begins with a flashback to the Christmas of 1955, where we see a twelve-year-old Hellboy being told a bedtime story by his adoptive father Professor Trevor Bruttenholm (John Hurt). The story tells of a war between humans and mythical creatures such as Elves and Goblins. In an effort to defeat the humans, a Goblin devised and built an army of indestructible golden robot-like warriors, which were controlled by a golden crown worn by Balor (Roy Dotrice) King of the Elves. Balor was so appalled by the destruction inflicted upon the humans by the Golden Army that he forged a truce with the humans; the humans would keep to the cities and non-humans to the forests. The King’s son Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) did not agree with the truce and went into exile and to prevent the Golden Army from ever rising again, the golden crown was broken into three pieces with one piece kept by King Balor, one piece given to the humans, one piece given to Princes Nuala (Anna Walton), Prince Nuada’s twin sister.
The film cuts to present day where Prince Nuada has returned from exile with the intent of reclaiming the golden crown and awakening the Golden Army. To reclaim the piece held by the humans, Prince Nuada raids an auction house with an army of “Tooth Fairies”, killing all present, and then kills his father the King to reclaim the second piece, while Princess Nuala escapes with the third piece.
The Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD) is determined to track down those responsible for the attack on the auction house. Hellboy, also known as Red (Ron Perlman), his girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair), Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) a psychic fishman, and Johann Krauss (voice of Seth MacFarlane) a “special agent” who exists in a containment suit as gaseous ectoplasm, join forces to find Prince Nuada while Princess Nuala is taken to BPRD headquarters for protection. When Prince Nuada attacks BPRD headquarters, kidnaps his sister, finds out the location of the Golden Army and wounds Hellboy with a magical spear, the battle begins in earnest.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

The supernatural; destruction of the human species

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Hellboy II contains frequent stylised action and fantasy violence Examples include:

  • Prince Nuada attacks a large group of humans at an auction house, decapitating one person (actual decapitation not depicted). Two men are thrown through a window and octopus-like creatures are hurled at people and become attached to their victim’s faces.
  • During an argument between Hellboy and Liz a large steel door is ripped off its hinges and propelled through the air followed by Hellboy who lands on the ground with blackened smoking clothing.
  • When Hellboy, Liz, Abe and Johann enter the auction room following a “tooth fairy” attack they find a totally destroyed room with no survivors only a reddish, blackish goo covering the floor, which we are told is tooth fairy excrement. We are also told that the tooth fairies eat people and go for people’s teeth first. Hellboy and the others are attacked by a large swarm of tooth fairies. Hellboy squashes one tooth fairy; we see the Fairy squashed and goo. Tooth fairies totally engulf a man’s body and appear to be eating the man’s head. Tooth fairies attack Abe, bitting his arm. We see Hellboy and the other shoot several of the tooth fairies and we see Hellboy covered with tooth fairies. A large stone statue crashes through a wall, squashing dozens of tooth fairies. Tooth fairies climb into a man’s clothing with the man screaming and rolling down stairs. Liz uses her pyrokenetic powers to create a fire-explosion that destroys all the tooth fairies and simultaneously blows Hellboy through a window with Hellboy falling a couple of stories to the ground to land on the roof of a police car.
  • When Prince Nuada confronts his father the King a fight erupts, with Nuada decapitating one guard (we see some blood splatter) and impaling another through the stomach with his sword. He stabs his father through the chest with his sword. We also see a large cave troll (Mr. Wink), who has a metal mace replacing his right hand, smashing people over the head.  
  • When Hellboy and the team visit the Troll Market we images of an old lady with several kittens. We are told that the old lady is really a female troll and that she eats the kittens for food. We see the old lady’s mouth change shape as she goes to put a kitten into her mouth, but the lady is disturbed before she can accomplish the task. Hellboy tells the old woman that he will rip her heart out. He punches her in the face sending her flying through the air.
  • At the Troll Market, Hellboy interrogates a male troll holding a baby. Hellboy punches the troll holding the baby in the face. We are told that the troll baby is not a baby, but a tumour.
  • When Abe corners Princess Nuala in the troll market she holds a knife to his throat. Mr. Wink hits Abe over the head with his mace hand and then throws Abe through a wall. Mr. Wink’s mace-like hand ejects from his arm and propels through the air to smash Hellboy in the face, throwing Hellboy through the air. Hellboy repeatedly punches Mr. Wink in the stomach and Hellboy and Mr. Wink repeatedly punch each other in the face. Mr. Wink knocks Hellboy through a stone bridge (we see a small amount of blood on Hellboy’s nose). Hellboy continues punching Mr. Wink until Mr. Wink is lying unconscious on the ground. Mr. Wink gets up and ejects his mace-hand which propels itself through the air, but instead of the mace-hand hitting Hellboy, it gets stuck in a giant mulching machine. The machine drags Mr.Wink in, crushing him to death.
  • Prince Nuada lets loose a giant man-eating plant with tentacles that erupts up through the road sending cars flying in all directions. The creature picks up cars and throw them around like toys. One car is thrown into the path of a helicopter cause the helicopter to crash and explode in flames. Hellboy saves a baby from a car, and then carrying the baby in his tail, scales a building to escape.
  • During one scene inside of BPRD headquarters, we see numerous monster-like creatures wrestling with humans and throwing them around.   
  • Hellboy punches Johan in the helmet causing the helmet to break and gas to escape. The gas then takes form and attacks Hellboy hitting Hellboy in the head and face with locker doors.
  • We see Prince Nuada wiping blood off his sword with a number of bodies (BPRD guards) lying dead on the ground around him. Prince Nuada cuts his sister’s cheek with a sword and holds a spear to Hellboy’s throat. Nuada hurls Hellboy through the air causing Hellboy to crash into furniture. Nuada spears Hellboy in the chest with the tip of the spear breaking off and remaining in Hellboy’s chest. Later, we see Hellboy lying on an examination table with a silver shard of metal protruding from his chest.
  • Hellboy, Liz, Abe and Johann battle with the droid-like warriors of the Golden Army. We see Johann as vapour enter the metal body of one of the golden warriors and then pull the metal warrior apart. Hellboy uses an arm from a golden warrior as a weapon to smash other warriors. The ground is littered with metal warrior parts which beginning to put themselves back together as the golden warriors repair themselves.
  • In the final battle, Hellboy challenges Prince Nuada to a fight. Throughout the fight we see numerous high-speed stylised kicks, punches, jumps and twirls inter-woven with lightening quick sword and spear play with many near misses as Nuada repeatedly attempts to spear Hellboy. At times we see Hellboy disappear into the spinning cogs of gigantic machinery only to reappear unhurt from another part of the giant machine. Nuada receives a cut to his arm and we see an identical cut spontaneously appear on Nuala’s arm. After an extended fight, Hellboy manages to restrain Nuada by holding a sword blade to his throat.
  • Nuada, holding a dagger, moves towards Hellboy in a manner suggesting that he is about to stab Hellboy in the back, but suddenly stops short with shock. We see Princess Nuala holding a dagger she has just plunged into her chest (we see a brown stain appearing on the front of Nuala’s dress). Nuala falls to the ground and both Nuada and Nuala die and turn to stone. 

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Hellboy II is full of mythical creatures and beasts specifically designed to have a scary appearance. In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are a number of scenes and images in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Hellboy/Red is a demonic red skinned creature with two large cut-off horns protruding from his head, a tail and a large fist that appears as if made of stone. 
  •  Mr. Wink is a Cave Troll the size of two men with hair-like spikes sticking out all over his back, and very large tusks protruding from his lower jaw. Instead of having a right hand, he has a metal mace capable of shooting out like a leashed weapon to strike his enemies. Mr. Wink makes animal-like grunts and growls.
  • The metal warriors of the Golden Army appear as giant golden eggs when inert. But when awoken they fold out to resemble a very large terminator-like droids with bladed arms and a bright internal glow that radiated out from the droid’s body and face.   
  • Both Prince Nuada and Princess Nuala have an appearance that may scare or disturb younger children. Both have very pale white skin a little corpse-like in appearance with large dark eyes that have pale yellow animal-like pupils and long straight platinum coloured hair. They both have horizontal scar-like lines running across their face giving their faces a divided, segmented appearance. King Balor had a similar appearance, but also has large antler styled horns coming out of the top of his head. By film’s end we see all three turn to stone and crumble after dying.  
  • The film contains images of octopus-like creatures that attached themselves to the faces of human victims with the human running around in terror trying to pull the creature from their face.
  • Abe has greenish blue colouring, dark fish-like eyes, gills protruding from his neck and fins protruding from the sides of arms.
  • In BPRD headquarters we see images of all manner of monster-like creatures some resembled cow-like creatures with tentacles with mouths full of fangs.
  • Liz is able to cause her body to become engulfed in flames giving her the appearance of being on fire.
  • The film contains images of “tooth fairies” who appear initially as small cute crab-like creatures with wings. However, when feeding the tooth fairies take on a much more scary, threatening appearance revealing rows of large razor-sharp teeth. They attack their victims as a large group somewhat like a swarm or flying Piranhas.
  • Johann Krauss exists as an ectoplasmic being contained within a sealed suit. The suit has a class fishbowl-like helmet with swirling smoke inside. The helmet has vents on the top, which continuously vent gasses from the helmet. At one stage Johann leaves his containment suit and we see Johann existing as a ghost-like fog. At times, Johann uses gaseous tendrils to enter the bodies of others and possess them. We see thin strands of smoke leaving Johann’s suit and enter the nose of his victim. 
  • The scene at the Troll market contains images of many scary looking mythical beasts and creatures. One troll-like creature has a baby protruding from his side; we are told that the bay is not a baby but a tumour.
  • One scene contains images of a giant man eating plant with long branch-like tentacles and an orchid-like flower for a head.
  • Images from early 20th century horror films including a 1930’s version of Frankenstein and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
  • The Angel of Death is a large, looming, winged creature with skeletal fingers, sharp teeth, and a bony protrusion covering its eyes. The creature has dozens of creepy looking eyes covering its wings.                
  • A tooth fairy lying on an examination table vomits a blood-like substance as it dies.
  • After a battle, the ground is littered with metal warrior parts which begin to put themselves back together as the golden warriors repair themselves.
  • One scene contains images of a baby trapped in a car that is in the path of a man-eating plant. Hellboy rescues the baby , using his tail to carry it. We see Hellboy, who is being chased by the plant jumping from building to building while holding the baby, with Hellboy and baby being thrown through the air at one stage.
  • An old woman picks up a kitten and holds it up to her mouth. Her mouth begins to change, becoming larger and more like a predator. It looks as if the old woman is about to eat the kitten, but when interrupted the old woman’s mouth returning to normal and she put down the kitten. We also see images of the old lady through special glasses that transforms the old lady’s appearance to that of a brutish troll.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by scenes described above.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by scenes described above.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Most children in this age group should be able to cope with the scenes described above.

Product placement

The film contained some product placement. Examples include.

  • Red/Hellboy is depicted in several scenes drinking brand named canned beer.
  • Cuban cigars are featured in a couple of scenes.
  • Hellboy is depicted eating brand named candy bars in a couple of scenes. 

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • We hear Abe and Liz taking about Liz being pregnant. We hear Liz telling Hellboy that she is pregnant and latter hear Liz tell Hellboy that she is having twins. 

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Liz kisses Hellboy on the forehead.
  • Liz performs a pregnancy test several times.
  • A large stone fertility statue has an extended stomach and breasts.
  • Liz kneels on a bed wearing a tank top and underwear.   

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Several scenes contain images of Hellboy drinking canned beer. We see a locker, belonging to Hellboy, full of cans of beer.
  • In one scene Hellboy and Abe drink beer over an extended period with the two becoming intoxicated as a result. Both slur their words and sing sad love songs.
  • In several scenes through out the film we see Hellboy smoking large fat cigars. Hellboy’s boss uses Cuban cigars as an enticement and in one scene Hellboy becomes disturbed and violent when a cigar he is smoking is damaged. 

Coarse language

Hellboy II contains some infrequent low-level coarse language, putdowns and name-calling. Example include:

  • “Jesus it stinks in here” “pissed me off.” “Crap.” “You Freak.” “Royal arseness.” “Screw the clearance.” ‘O my god.” “my arse.” “Slippery bastard.”    
  • In one scene, Johann, who has a thick German accent makes a statement that sounds very much like, “Fuck you,” but is not. Hellboy comments on this.

In a nutshell

Hellboy II - The Golden Army the sequel to the 2004 film Hellboy, is an action fantasy adventure targeted at older adolescents and adults. The film depicts a world full of magic, fantasy and horror with many supernatural and demonic creatures. Hellboy is a reluctant hero who often feels like an unwanted freak and is judged by the public by his appearance rather than what he does.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Rather than being a mindless follower, Hellboy continuously questions/evaluates the rightness of his actions and how his actions effect others.
  • Self-sacrifice: Princess Nuala sacrifices her own life to prevent her brother from killing Hellboy. 

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with older children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • the moral dilemma of committing a crime and risking the destruction of humanity to save a single life
  • the attitude of people towards Hellboy and the others who are different

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