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HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY

Creatures Of Hellboy's World
"I have always loved movies where the star is the monster. That has branded my view of art and storytelling all my life,” says del Toro. The director demonstrates this devotion to monsters of all shapes and sizes in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. "In the first movie, we did big, big creatures,” he says. "One thing I wanted to explore this time was what would happen if the first attack came from tiny creatures that are actually cute.”

Hence, the tooth fairies were born. Dainty and almost Tinkerbell-like, the fairies have little else in common with their spritely namesake; they have an insatiable appetite for calcium and are happiest when eating through human flesh to get to it. "Guillermo outdid himself on the cuteness scale with the tooth fairies, but they're nasty little things,” says Selma Blair.

Solution Studios created an animatronic tooth fairy for a scene in the B.P.R.D.'s medical bay in which Johann reanimates the fairy, but the full-scale infestation of the burrowing predators in the auction house fell to Mike Wassel's visual effects team. He would seamlessly create the swarm that attacked the B.P.R.D. after the carnivores had already eaten through a number of auction guests earlier in the evening. Wassel's crew would need to make it appear as if Hellboy, Liz and Abe were frantically gunning and flaming through the nest of fairies.

Wassel's group also created the plantlike Elemental creature, which stands more than 70' tall after water activates its properties. Interestingly, the Elemental "seed” comes from Nuada's grenade; the weapon shoots out magical Elemental spores that, after touching water, sprout into a forest and will choke anything in their way to achieve the goal of reforestation. Originally used by elves to grow an ecosystem, it's been eons since one has been activated.

Solution also designed the juggernaut Golden Army soldiers, which play onscreen as 16'-tall mechanical robots that morph from an egglike state to full militia. This Golden Army has been dormant since Balor put them to rest, but it has been silently waiting for a new wearer of the crown to command them. Del Toro asked his artists for an enormous chamber that could house the hundreds of golden eggs. The stunning designs were brought to life at Solution.

Prosthetic creatures abound in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. With more than two dozen of them on set over the course of the shoot, the Hellboy II creature department was one of the production's largest. Spectral Motion from Los Angeles took charge of 15 characters. Solution Studios, Creature Effects and Euroart Studios from the U.K., DDT from Spain and Filmefex from Hungary also made contributions to the horde of trolls, goblins and creatures of the night.

"This is the most massively scaled film I've ever worked on,” says Mike Elizalde, founder of Spectral Motion. "It's been challenging, but also rewarding because of the cleverness and relevance to the story that each character has.”

Spectral Motion's many achievements include Wink, the Prince's lumbering sidekick and a match for Hellboy in brute strength. He is portrayed by actor Brian Steele, who is 6'7” tall as Steele, but 7'5” as the drooling beast. The Wink suit, an animatronic masterpiece, weighs 130 pounds. Coupled with Steele's body mass, the suit was stunning that he could maneuver, much less walk, as long as he was able in the suit. Wink's facial expressions and the movements of his weaponlike hand (with built-in mace) were controlled via radio by puppeteers.

"The finish, the quality, the mechanics, the articulation, the personality that these prosthetic characters have been given is incredible. The first time we all saw Wink, we couldn't believe it. The whole set just stopped and assembled around him; it was spellbinding,” lauds executive producer Chris Symes.

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