Hellboy II: The Art of the Movie is the actual shooting script of the new Hellboy movie, plus pictures, concept art and stills from the actual movie. Now, you might think that reading the script would destroy any reason to see the movie, but this isn't so. In fact, the whole thing just whets your appetite to see more, as the pictures only give hints as to what is to come.
It's a little hard to review an artbook, but I'll try. Basically, this movie gives us something the fans have wanted to see for years... young Hellboy. I was hoping as soon as I saw the picture, that they'd show us a quick scene of Hellboy getting introduced to pancakes, but that was in the original comic (As the short story, "Pancakes", naturally) and would have probably detracted from the main movie. However, one page of the comic is reproduced in this book, and it made me grin anyway.
For those of you who haven't seen the first movie, read the comics, seen the animated features (all of which have their own separate style and continuities, according to the word of God, i.e. Mike Mignola) or read the books, Hellboy is the son of Satan and a human woman, taken to Hell after gestating in her body for years. He is also Anung Un Rama, the one fated to destroy the world, but due to a summoning mishap by the Nazis, Hellboy was found and adopted by Dr. Bruttenholm (pronounced Broom) and raised to fight supernatural menaces. Though he tries to be just a normal guy, that's pretty difficult when you're seven feet tall, have horns growing out of your head (that he breaks off and files down) and are red as a fire hydrant. Not to mention that stone-covered hand he has on his right side.
Hellboy works for the B.P.R.D., the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, who try to keep the world safe from the monstrous creatures, depraved ancient societies and other menaces that would take it over and remake it from their twisted perspective. Hellboy works with Liz Sherman, a firestarter who is immune to her own flames (and maybe all fire... it's hard to tell sometimes), and Abe Sapien, a fishlike creature found under a southern hospital with only a single note on the tube containing him, and that was the date of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, from which Abe got his first name. Sapien because he is obviously intelligent (more so than many of the humans he works with, actually).
This movie will introduce another character from the B.P.R.D., Johann Krauss, a former medium whose body was destroyed during a seance (due to a supernatural catastrophe the B.P.R.D. was dealing with. He wasn't the only one affected.) and he now inhabits a special containment suit to make sure his ectoplasmic body doesn't dissipate. He still has his mediumistic powers, but his "body" such as it is, is just translucent stuff that no longer looks human. Or, as the movie puts it, he has "a nice, open face". Literally!
In any case, the movie presents us with a story based on Celtic myth, but as usual, with a twist. The King is named Balor, and might be supposed to be the original King Balor defeated by the Tuatha De Dann or he might be just named after him. His two children, a son and a daughter, are Nuada and Nuala, twins. The Prince rebels when it appears that the humans have broken the contract made ages ago by the humans and the elves. He wants to retrieve the crown that controls the goblin-constructed golden army and use it against the humans to make them fear and respect the elves once more.
I can't say more without giving away the entire plot, but the movie looks like it's going to be great, and the designs are incredible, with that dark "Mignola feel" that made me so enamoured of the comic book. I may not buy the book, but it will make me go see the movie.