on 20 February 2014
HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY  [Limited Edition SteelBook] [Blu-ray] Believe It Or Not He’s The Good Guy!
The fate of mankind hangs in the balance when a ruthless Prince awakens an unstoppable army of creatures and wages war with the human world. It's up to Hellboy and his team of paranormal outcasts to face off with the forces of darkness in the ultimate battle of good versus evil.
From the visionary director Guillermo del Toro of `Pan's Labyrinth,' ‘HELLBOY II: The Golden Army' takes you into fantastical worlds with imaginative creatures and thrilling fight sequences unlike anything you've ever seen before.
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: Academy Award®: Nominated: Best Makeup and Hairstyling for Mike Elizalde and Thomas Floutz. Screen Actors Guild Awards: Nominated: Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture for Bradley James Allan, Mark Chapmanm, Bonnie Morgan, Andrew Owen, Michael Weis and Peng Zhang. Saturn Award: Won: Best Horror Film for Universal Studios. Nominated: Best Make-Up for Mike Elizalde. Nominated: Best Special Effects for Mike Wassel, Adrian De Wet, Andrew Chapman and Eamonn Butler. Empire Award: Nominated: Best Sci-Fi Fantasy Superhero for Universal Studios.
Cast: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, John Alexander, James Dodd, Seth MacFarlane, Luke Goss, Anna Walton, Jeffrey Tambor, John Hurt, Brian Steele, Andrew Hefler, Iván Kamarás, Mike Kelly, Jeremy Zimmermann, Santiago Segura, Roy Dotrice, Aidan Cook, Montse Ribé, Matthew O'Toole, Jamie Wilson, Clive Llewellyn, Sándor Svigelj, Brian Herring, Pálma Pásztor, Szonja Oroszlán, Michael Mehlmann, Todd Williams, Beatrice Zentai, Richard Rifkin, Guillermo del Toro (uncredited), Tim Larsen (uncredited), Gavin McKenzie (uncredited) and Julia Papp (uncredited)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Producers: Chris Symes, John Swallow, Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Mike Mignola and Mike Richardson
Screenplay: Guillermo del Toro and Mike Mignola (story)
Composer: Danny Elfman
Cinematography: Guillermo Navarro
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English: 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English: Dolby Digital, French: DTS-HD, Italian: DTS-HD, German: DTS-HD and Japanese: 5.1 DTS-HD
Subtitles: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Japanese
Running Time: 114 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Universal Pictures
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: Throughout his career, Guillermo del Toro has regularly alternated between small, personal projects and big studio pictures. He followed his debut feature 'CRONOS' (a strange, intimate twist on vampire mythology) with the horror thriller 'MIMIC.' From there, he travelled to Spain for 'The Devil's Backbone' and then returned to Hollywood for 'Blade II.' The director's obsessions with dark fairy tales, fantastical monsters, and clockwork mechanical gizmos were a perfect fit for Mike Mignola's cult comic book about a grumpy demon hell spawn with a fondness for candy bars and big guns. The 2004 film adaptation of 'HELLBOY' was witty, inventive, action-packed, and very entertaining.
Unfortunately, the studio SONY found it difficult to market a film in which the hero basically looks like the bastard son of Satan. The picture did only mediocre box office business, but found more of an audience on the DVD format. Cut to a few years later and Guillermo del Toro was riding high on the success of 'Pan's Labyrinth.' A new studio Universal, decided to pick up the 'HELLBOY' rights and capitalise on the director's ascending fortunes, tailoring the promotional campaign for 'HELLBOY II: The Golden Army' almost exclusively around Guillermo del Toro's reputation.
Most of the major players from the original have returned for the sequel, including Ron Perlman as the big red demon, Selma Blair as his hot-tempered girlfriend, and Jeffrey Tambor as their dim-witted boss at the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence. Even John Hurt makes a cameo flashback as Hellboy's kindly adopted father. Doug Jones continues in the fish-man suit as Abe Sapien, this time providing the voice himself (David Hyde Pierce performed vocal duties with the first film). Missing entirely is Rupert Evans as Agent Myers, his character dismissed in a single line of dialogue. Newly introduced is by-the-book Agent Johann Krauss [Seth MacFarlane], a vaporous apparition, contained in a walking pressurised suit.
The plot of 'HELLBOY II: The Golden Army' posits that numerous races of mystical creatures, like fairies, trolls, goblins, and more, have been living beneath the human world for millennia, abiding by an ancient truce to stay out of our way. Fed up with this complacency, the exiled Prince Nuada returns to seize his Elven father's throne and reactivate the long-dormant Golden Army, a fearsome force of thousands of indestructible mechanical warriors. To do that, he needs the three pieces of the Golden Crown. The first piece is easily stolen from a human auction house, and the second can be wrested from his father's hands. However, his twin sister Princess Nuala absconds with the final piece to the protection of Hellboy and the instantly-smitten Abe.
As a film, 'HELLBOY: The Golden Army' has a much grander scale than the first 'HELLBOY.' Although modestly budgeted by summer blockbuster standards, the film features some astoundingly elaborate production design that would make even Terry Gilliam blush, and countless mind-bending monstrous creations ripped from the deepest recesses of Mike Mignola's and Guillermo del Toro's imaginations. The action scenes are well choreographed and the film has no shortage of visual effects, highlighted by an impressive city street battle between HB and a giant "Elemental" forest god.
Plenty of Guillermo del Toro's visual genius is on display in 'HELLBOY II: The Golden Army,' but the story doesn't support it adequately. The film performed about the same as the first theatrically, not quite earning back its entire budget. As before, it will probably fare better on home video. There's much of interest to watch and savour in the film, but on the whole the picture is frankly a little dull and is certainly not one of the director's stronger works.
Blu-ray Video Quality – Back when SONY produced the first 'HELLBOY' on Blu-ray in 2007, it had razor sharp details and rich colours were near-reference quality for the format. Universal's release of the sequel is very similar in most regards, if slightly less impressive in direct comparison. The 1080p encoded transfer is presented in the films theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio, just like the original. The robust colours, including Guillermo del Toro's use of amber hues, vibrant blues, and deep red tones, are reproduced vividly. The contrast range extends to inky blacks, though shadow detail is at times a bit obscure. At its best, the picture has extraordinary sharpness and detail. Close-up shots of HB's skin reveal exemplary texture. However, image clarity is not always consistent. Medium and wide shots are generally less impressive and look a little filtered. The film also has an abundance of CGI effects that are disappointingly soft and blurry for a film of this budget, especially the Golden Army robots themselves. Make no mistake 'HELLBOY: The Golden Army' is a fine-looking Blu-ray disc. It just doesn't quite hit the same heights as its predecessor. I re-watched the original 'HELLBOY' immediately afterwards and found it noticeably sharper and more consistent in appearance. On the other hand, the sequel has no problems with colour banding, which is an improvement in its favour.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, it might seem deserving of our highest possible score. Certainly, the sound mix has hyper-aggressive surround activity from all four discrete rear channels and some punishing bass. Sound effects are sharply recorded and dialogue is always perfectly intelligible. But that doesn't really tell the whole story. It's a very good audio track, but something is missing. The soundtrack starts loud and just gets louder as it goes but unlike the outstanding sound design of Guillermo del Toro's 'Pan's Labyrinth,' but 'HELLBOY: The Golden Army' lacks some finesse. The mix is all about power, with little room for subtlety or nuance. The surprisingly bland score by Danny Elfman rarely exhibits much warmth. While the channels throb almost constantly, the low end is not very refined. Perhaps most distractingly, the dubbing is poorly integrated into the sound mix. Lip sync may be adequate, but voices sound very disconnected from the visuals. Overall 'HELLBOY: The Golden Army' has a really excellent good audio soundtrack that most viewers will find very satisfying.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Beautiful designed Artwork inside the Limited Edition SteelBook case.
Audio Commentary: Commentary with Director Guillermo del Toro: The director is well versed in the art of the audio commentary. He delivers an intelligent, engaging discussion of his artistic intentions, his influences, his fetishes, and the themes and symbolism in the film.
Audio Commentary: Commentary with Cast Members Jeffrey Tambor, Selma Blair and Luke Goss: In stark contrast to the director's commentary is this superficial chat between members of the supporting cast. Ron Perlman is conspicuously absent. Selma Blair is particularly annoying. She actually starts the track by recommending that viewers listen to Guillermo del Toro's commentary instead. I wholeheartedly and totally agree.
Special Feature: Comic Book Builder: Create your own ‘HELLBOY II' comic book! Just select your favourite frames from the move. The Comic Book Builder will take the image and transform it into comic book art. Add text from a list of ‘HELLBOY II' phrases, select cover, and BLAM! Your comic is complete.
U-Control: I found Universal Pictures U-Control interface very irritating. In this one, you can watch the film with four possible options: pop-up Concept Art, a picture-in-picture scene.
Finally, ‘HELLBOY II: The Golden Army' is a very entertaining film that accomplishes everything a good sequel requires. It enhances the characters on a psychological level, introduces one or two new primaries, features bigger and bolder sets, more intense action, and introduces a formidable opponent for the heroes to battle. Most importantly, the film sees the return of director Guillermo del Toro, whose impressive vision and eye-catching directorial style once again lend vigour, vitality, beauty, and grace of the ‘HELLBOY' film franchise. It should come as no surprise that Universal Pictures Blu-ray release of ‘HELLBOY II: The Golden Army' is phenomenal. With an incredibly detailed and film-like transfer that shows just what Blu-ray video is capable of presenting, and the 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is awesome. ‘HELLBOY II: The Golden Army' is a fine representation of what Blu-ray is all about. Fans of the film and/or its director will not be disappointed and home theatre enthusiasts looking to add the latest and greatest in video and audio presentations to their collections need pick this one up immediately. ‘HELLBOY II: The Golden Army' and this of course a great companion to the first ‘HELLBOY' Limited Edition SteelBook Blu-ray and is totally brilliant and it has gone pride of place in my ever increasing Limited Edition SteelBook Blu-ray Collections. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom