Midnight showing fools! I went early so I could spoil it for all of you! CAUSE I'M A SPOILER!
I'm lying. No spoiler. My folks did this to me with every Star Trek episode. I never wanted to watch and they'd always go, "No, you gotta see this one. This is the one where Kirk dies." And of course I had to watch. I had to find out if the toupee was really the father of all those tribbles.
I can't wholly remember the first Hellboy. I only remember not being too impressed with it and that Pittsburgh got mentioned. And I'm only marginally familiar with the "Mignolaverse." So I can't say how it compares to the first or how it measures up to the comic. I can say it was fun, an okay selection of action and comedy, but not a mix. There's the story we've seen in the ads--the ancient kingdom of Bethmora is rising against the human race and the BPRD has to stop it. The back story for the kingdom is related in an opening sequence that looks fantastic. CGI armies of little wooden soldiers--marionette-style little wooden soldiers. If I could see a movie that just looked like that I'd be thrilled.
There's a second story though. One that's not in the ads and it's a more domestic one. Hellboy's chaffing at having to stay hidden, there's stress in his relationship with Liz and now he's got a German giving him orders. The story touches on the standard Hellboy themes of destiny, choice and where his allegiances truly lie, and while those elements tie it thematically to the Bethmora story, they don't really. There's this weird supernatural almost-sit-com thing going on and then there's the monster busting. The timing is almost right to bring them together, but not quite. Both are good in and of themselves though. The funny is funny and the exciting is exciting.
And the visuals are spectacular. They were teasing us in the trailers. Del Toro is constructing truly surrealistic visions. One monster, unfortunately, looks like Chaos from Sonic Adventure, and another, a little messenger thing, looks like a reject from the Star Wars universe, but even they don't look bad. They just don't look as twisted and inventive as the other creatures.
Overall it was a lot of fun. The audience helped a lot. This is quality midnight movie fare. If you can't see it with a theater full of freaks, at least see it with a crowd. I don't think it'll hold up to thoughtful reflection so go when you'll be pleasantly distracted.