It was hell to pay at the box office this weekend as Universal Pictures' "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" captured the top spot in its debut.

The sequel to the 2004 film featuring Ron Perlman and Selma Blair knocked off "Hancock" with $35.8 million over the last three days.

The film begins with Hellboy as a child being read a story by his adoptive father (John Hurt), which tells of an ancient warfare between humans and monsters.

The Golden Army was formed and they were a major influence in the battle.

Apparently a truce was made, and the humans got the cities and monsters took to the forest.

A magical crown that was used to rule the Golden Army was divided into three pieces and strategically set about.

However, that never sat well with Prince Nuada (Luke Gross), who looks to put the pieces of the crown back together and awaken the Golden Army.

Standing in the Prince's way is his own sister, Princess Nuala (Anna Walton).

Soon enough, Hellboy (Ron Perlman), his fire-inducing gal pal Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), fish-man Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and Johann Kraus (voice of Seth MacFarlane) band together to keep the Golden Army from being awoken.

There is some underlying tension between Hellboy and Liz, as she isn't thrilled with the attention he likes when exposed to the real world. She's keeping a secret from him that only Abe knows about and is keeping confidential.

For once we have a sequel that's actually better than the original, as "Hellboy II" definitely rocks and keeps your attention.

A huge amount of credit goes to the direction and imagination of Guillermo del Toro, whose previous work includes the wonderful "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Blade II." I can't wait to see his future work in "Doctor Strange" and "The Hobbit."

You can tell it's del Toro's doing throughout the Troll Market scene, as the various odd-shaped monsters that appear are too many to fully enjoy.

The ongoing romance between Hellboy and Liz is pretty hilarious, and another romance is included for our amusement, as well. In fact, there is actually a musical duet between Hellboy and his lovelorn pal that should have audiences either laughing or singing along.

Perlman is in his glory as Hellboy, as he is strong and rebellious almost to a fault, but he manages to get the job done.

Gross' Prince Nuada is definitely evil, yet methodical in his ways. He has an eerie connection with his sister, Princess Nuala, which wasn't fully explained in the film.

One of the more unsung heroes at the box office this summer, "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" was definitely infernally hot this weekend with three out of four stars.

"Hellboy II: The Golden Army" is rated PG-13 for sequences of science-fiction action and violence, and some language. Running time is two hours.

Last week's No. 1 film, Sony Pictures' "Hancock," flew to No. 2 with $33 million -- its two-week total soaring to $165 million.

Disney/Pixar's "WALL-E" ventures from No. 2 to No. 4 while adding $18.5 million to its three week total of $162.7 million.

Warner Bros. "Get Smart" is still smart with moviegoers despite slipping two spaces to No. 6 this weekend with $7.1 million. The Steve Carrell comedy has taken in $111.4 million over the past month.

Tumbling from the top five to No. 8 is Paramount Pictures' "Kung Fu Panda" with $4.3 million. With a six-week total of $202.1 million, "Kung Fu Panda" is the third film in 2008 to top the $200 million mark, along with "Iron Man" and "Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull."

For more information and show times, contact Regal Cinemas Marketplace 24, 180 Mill Rd., Oaks, at 610-666-6697.

Dennis J. Wright can be reached at dwright@phoenixvillenews.com.

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