Just came back from seeing it. I'd rate it Above Average.
It was a very entertaining movie -- a huge improvement over the enjoyable but mediocre first film. The pacing is a bit erratic and lethargic at times, but halfway through it is salvaged by some truly ingenious character moments that enrich the film tenfold.
The film is comparable to Tim Burton's Batman Returns
in the sense that it fully embraces its eccentric sensibility of its director, Guillermo del Toro. The first film was sort of partially del Toro, partially studio comic-book popcorn fluff, but Hellboy II
is all del Toro. From the opening sequence to the final frame, it unabashedly has all of the normal del Toro staples: amazing creature designs, a vibrant production design, stunning visuals and a truly electric world. Anyone who has doubts about del Toro's take on the Hobbit universe should fret not after seeing this film.
I also loved how casual this film felt. After the first movie introduced the universe, del Toro now feels fully comfortable exploring it a bit more. Whereas Agent Meyers was our gateway into the universe in the first film, Hellboy and Abe Sapien (who gets much more screentime this time around) are basically regular guys in make-up. Speaking of Abe Sapien, while I loved his role in the film, I missed David Hyde Pierce's voice. Doug Jones wasn't bad, but I was so accustomed to Pierce's vocals that it took me some time to adjust, and retrospectively, while Jones has grown on me, I still think del Toro should have kept Pierce if only for continuity purposes.
Danny Elfman's score was a bit absent, but still noticeably Elfman-esque (especially with the choir). Johann Kraus was a fantastic addition and a memorable character, and supporting roles like Jeffrey Tambor's Manning added to the plot verses taking away from it. The villain storyline was a tad weak and underwhelming (and overly convenient for the plot).
Overall, I'd say it was an entertaining, fun comic-book movie that improves upon its predecessor like a sequel should. It definitely ranks up there, but some pacing and plot problems hold it from being truly fantastic.