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Dark Horse Comics' popular cult superhero Hellboy makes the leap from the comic book pages to the big screen in this fantasy action adventure. In the final days of World War II, the Nazis attempt to use black magic to aid their dying cause. The Allies raid the camp where the ceremony is taking place, but not before a demon - Hellboy (Ron Perlman) - has already been conjured. Joining the Allied forces, Hellboy eventually grows to adulthood under the supervision of his adopted 'father', Professor Broom (John Hurt), serving the cause of good rather than evil. When the powerful and evil Nazi wizard who unleashed Hellboy suddenly reappears in modern times, he discovers that Hellboy is now working as a paranormal investigator at a secret U.S. government agency dedicated to protecting humanity from the forces of darkness. Now, Hellboy must fight to prevent the destruction of mankind.
In the ongoing deluge of comic-book adaptations, Hellboy ranks well above average. Having turned down an offer to helm Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in favor of bringing Hellboy's origin story to the big screen, the gifted Mexican director Guillermo del Toro compensates for the excesses of Blade II with a moodily effective, consistently entertaining action-packed fantasy, beginning in 1944 when the mad monk Rasputin--in cahoots with occult-buff Hitler and his Nazi thugs--opens a transdimensional portal through which a baby demon emerges, capable of destroying the world with his powers. Instead, the aptly named Hellboy is raised by the benevolent Prof. Bloom, founder of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, whose allied forces enlist the adult Hellboy (Ron Perlman, perfectly cast) to battle evil at every turn. While nursing a melancholy love for the comely firestarter Liz (Selma Blair), Hellboy files his demonic horns ("to fit in," says Bloom) and wreaks havoc on the bad guys. The action is occasionally routine (the movie suffers when compared to the similar X-Men blockbusters), but del Toro and Perlman have honored Mike Mignola's original Dark Horse comics with a lavish and loyal interpretation, retaining the amusing and sympathetic quirks of character that made the comic-book Hellboy a pop-culture original. He's red as a lobster, puffs stogies like Groucho Marx, and fights the good fight with a kind but troubled heart. What's not to like? --Jeff Shannon
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Hellboy is a true classic and was followed up by a sequel that is every bit as good. Its well worth watching.
From visionary writer/director Guillermo del Toro (director of ‘Blade II’ and ‘The Devil's Backbone’) comes Hellboy, a supernatural action adventure based on Mike Mignola's popular Dark Horse Comics series of the same name. Born in the flames of hell and brought to Earth as an infant to perpetrate evil, Hellboy [Ron Perlman] was rescued from sinister forces by the benevolent Dr. Broom [John Hurt], who raised him to be a hero. In Dr. Broom's secret Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defence, `Hellboy' creates an unlikely family consisting of the telepathic "Mer-Man" Abe Sapien [Doug Jones] and Liz Sherman [Selma Blair], the woman he loves who can control fire. Hidden from the very society that they protect, they stand as the key line of defence against an evil madman who seeks to reclaim ‘HELLBOY' to the dark side and use his powers to destroy mankind.
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: 2005 Saturn Awards: Win: Best Make-Up. Nominated: Best Fantasy Film. Nominated: Best Special Edition DVD Release.
Cast: Ron Perlman, John Hurt, Selma Blair, Rupert Evans, Karel Roden, Jeffrey Tambor, Doug Jones, Brian Steele, Ladislav Beran, Biddy Hodson, Corey Johnson, Corey Johnson, Kevin Trainor, Brian Caspe, James Babson, Stephen Fisher, Garth Cooper, Angus MacInnes, Jim Howick, Mark Taylor, Tara Hugo, Richard Haas, Andrea Miltner, Jo Eastwood, Charles Grisham, Jan Holicek, Jeremy Zimmermann, Monty L. Simons, Pavel Cajzl, William Hoyland, Bob Sherman, Ellen Savaria, Petr Sekanina, Ales Kosnar, Winter Ave Zoli, Santiago Segura, Albert Moy, Guillermo del Toro (uncredited), David Hyde Pierce (uncredited), Todd Kramer (uncredited), Michael Lindsay (uncredited), Mike Mignola (uncredited) and Helene Wilson (uncredited)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Producers: Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Mike Richardson and Patrick J. Palmer
Screenplay: Guillermo del Toro, Peter Briggs and Mike Mignola (comic books)
Composer: Marco Beltrami
Cinematography: Guillermo Navarro
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English: 5.1 LPCM [uncompressed], English: 5.1 DTS-HD, Spanish: 5.1 LPCM [uncompressed] and Spanish: 5.1 DTS-HD
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish and Hindi
Running Time: 122 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: SONY Pictures Home Entertainment
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: Marvel Comics and DC Comics have been in a war for superhero dominance in the comics industry for decades, crushing every other company that's sprouted in their shadow and every company, that is, except for Dark Horse Comics. Born into the world of independent publishing in 1986, Dark Horse focused exclusively on fantasy and science fiction, offering an appealing alternative to fans of the superhero genre. But it was the stark art and tales of Mike Mignola's ‘HELLBOY' that first helped the publisher gain critical strength and legitimacy in the world of comics.
In 2004, Academy Award-winning Mexican director Guillermo del Toro of 'Blade II' and 'Pan's Labyrinth,' released his filmed adaptation of 'HELLBOY' to theatres worldwide. Great timing and the director's widely publicised love of Mike Mignola's work made the film possible. ‘HELLBOY' was considered to be totally “unfilmable” property. But showcasing an incredible practical makeup and prosthetics application on its two lead characters, the film impressed with its visual impact and surprisingly won the support of mainstream film critics.
The film's plot sounds way more complicated than it ends up being. A young demon is accidentally summoned to Earth during a bizarre Nazi ritual at the height of World War II. When the Allies intervene and stop the Nazis' bid for world destruction, the creature is "adopted" by Professor Trevor Bruttenholm [John Hurt] and raised in the United States. Years later, the red-skinned demon is full grown and answers to the name Hellboy [Ron Perlman]. He and the professor are agents of the B.P.R.D. a secret government taskforce that combats dark forces across the world, along with an aquatic genius named Abe Sapien [Doug Jones] and a reclusive fire starter named Liz Sherman [Selma Blair].
This supernatural strike-team is called to arms to combat the recently-resurrected Rasputin [Karel Roden] a sorcerer who was killed during the ritual that brought Hellboy to Earth decades ago. The evil madman is determined to finish the ceremony started by the Nazis and wake ancient and dangerous beings from a deep slumber. Using his enormous stone hand, carved with mysterious runes, Hellboy must combat an assassin named Kronen, stop an army of creepy beasties, and bring an end to Rasputin's bid for world domination.
Sure the story sounds campy when you write it down, but the beauty of Guillermo del Toro's 'HELLBOY' is that it actually feels quite grounded in the real world. Hellboy is a working class stiff with a blue collar swagger and as a hero, he genuinely feels fresh and different. His banter and dissatisfaction with life is endearing, making it all the more easily to sympathise and root for a giant red guy with a tail. Film fans will appreciate the witty dialogue, exciting action beats, and dark humour sprinkled throughout the story. Comic fans, meanwhile, will appreciate the faithful representation of Mike Mignola's character, the darkness of the imagery, and the folklore weaved throughout the film.
There are some problems, but most of them can be chalked up to taste. Comic fans will certainly have an easier time navigating the strange world of 'HELLBOY' it has its own rules and a system of reality that may make it slightly daunting to newcomers. The story is packed with subplots, side characters, and minor details that some will love and others will find tiresome and convoluted. Luckily, Guillermo del Toro handles potentially laughable imagery with such realism and weight that it keeps unintentional snickers to a minimum. The performances, especially Ron Perlman's droll delivery. are stellar and everyone is clearly invested in their character. The only weak spot is Selma Blair who seems unable to convincingly emote, but at least it matches her character's reclusive nature.
This Blu-ray edition presents the unrated Director's Cut of the, which includes more than ten minutes of scenes that were removed from the theatrical version. This additional footage gives 'HELLBOY' a bit more room to breathe, but it doesn't add anything of significance other than some amusing character interactions. All in all, 'HELLBOY' isn't the greatest comic-to-film adaptation out there, but it may well be the most unique. A fun romp through a sinister underbelly of the occult, most people will probably have a good time giving this one a shot.
Blu-ray Video Quality – ‘HELLBOY' is, quite simply, a fantastic addition to the Blu-ray format. Like most of the recent Sony's 1080p brilliant encoded image, this is yet another first-class example of how a film transfer should be done. The wonderfully saturated colour palette of the film is vivid and never blooms, fine detail is exceptional and the picture is completely free of any distracting artefacts. Many of the scenes in the latter half of the film occur in snowy conditions and feature a character that is soaked, from head to toe, in blood. I was amazed at how this Blu-ray encode handled the extremes of bright crimson without ever blooming or bleeding into the white areas of the picture. This is another prime example of how high definition content that is well encoded can display extremely challenging material with relative ease. ‘HELLBOY' qualifies not only as absolute demo material, but also as being extremely faithful to its theatrical presentation.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – In addition to the fantastic video presentation, ‘HELLBOY' features an immaculate 5.1 LPCM [uncompressed] soundtrack. This really is an outstanding track with an immensely enveloping special ambience and impressive surround usage. While I've never been in an actual gunfight, I can only imagine that bullets flying past my head would sound pretty much like they do in ‘HELLBOY.' There are many diverse settings in the film, from subway tunnels, museums and city streets to cemeteries and giant aquariums, that all spring to life with wonderful expressiveness. I was particularly impressed and awed by the ‘HELLBOY' huge soundstage and its tight, accurate and deep bass. Once again, Sony displays their industry leading commitment to presenting outstanding uncompressed sound on Blu-ray.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Audio Commentary: Commentary with Guillermo del Toro: Guillermo Del Toro gives a scene-specific commentary that's exclusive to the director's cut. I could listen to this guy all day. A good portion of the commentary is spent discussing all the influences that led Guillermo del Toro to `Hellboy' with things as far ranging as pulp comics, Jorge Luis Borges, and Sherlock Holmes. He talks at length about Mike Mignola and his work, and how it was to work with Mike Mignola. Of course he also talks about Ron Perlman, Tambor, and the rest of the cast. He speaks nonstop from opening credits to the beginning of the end credits, and he is endlessly interesting.
Special Feature: Hellboy: Seeds of Creation [2:23:08] This documentary is about everything ‘HELLBOY.' Starts with Mike Mignola talking about the genesis of the comic, and goes all the way through to the theatrical premiere. On the way, we see make-up tests, creature designs and models, on the set footage, and more. The documentary goes into almost every detail of the production, although there isn't much rhyme or reason to the way the information is delivered. One minute they may be talking about doing wire work, and the next about CGI effects, and the next about how great it is to work with John Hurt. Still, the lack of segmentation keeps things interesting, because you don't know what you'll be seeing next. Essential viewing for any Hellboy fan.
Special Feature: Deleted Scenes with Director Commentary: Three scenes, two of which appear in a shortened form in the director's cut. There is a very short sequence showing Ilsa and Kroenen's trek to revive Rasputin, then a scene where Meyers brings Liza back, and finally the scene where Rasputin receives the stone that features in the film's climax. Del Toro provides optional commentary for all three. The scenes include Breaking the Ice Wall [0:30]; Cab Ride [1:24]; Russian Warehouse [2:33], Rasputin and Isla meet the Russian general at the Topockba Military Base.
Special Feature: Visual Effects How-To's [2:54] A look at several of the larger visual effects shots. Slightly redundant after we got a lot of this information from "Seeds of Creation," but there are still things here not shown in the other documentary.
Special Feature: Make-Up and Lighting Tests with Audio Commentary with Guillermo del Toro [7:21] Guillermo del Toro gives commentary to several make-up tests done to figure out how to best light ‘HELLBOY’ for maximum effect. Many of the tests were shown in "Seeds of Creation," but Del Toro's commentary sheds new light on them.
Special Feature: A Quick Guide To Understanding Comics with Scott McCloud [12:00] Probably the pre-eminent scholar in the comic book field, Scott McCloud gives a crash course on comics as an art form. Scott McCloud imparts a lot of interesting information without becoming boring or feeling rushed. Definitely essential viewing here.
Coming To Blu-ray: Trailers for what is coming out on the Blu-ray Format.
Trailer: Ghost Rider: I suppose Sony figured promoting ‘Ghost Rider’ made sense, seeing as how it's another movie made from a comic, but the big difference is that ‘HELLBOY' is a study in how to adapt comics well, whereas ‘Ghost Rider’ is an embarrassment in every possible way.
Finally, I was convinced, before seeing the film, that ‘HELLBOY' would be wasted on me. I didn't know the story and though it all looked a bit silly. I couldn't have been more wrong! This is an inventive and exciting film that is deliciously entertaining. The Blu-ray edition is remarkable with reference picture quality and a soundtrack that is every bit as impressive. The supplementary section of the disc is nicely presented in standard definition, with plenty of features to satisfy the needs of the most ardent fan and the most clueless newcomer. ‘HELLBOY' is one hell of a great addition to the ever-growing library of must-own Blu-ray releases. Even though I have not been a big comic book fan, this ‘HELLBOY' franchise really shows why this comic book hero is so popular and this film really brings this comic book character to fruition and now I am a massive fan of this genre and I wonder if there will be any more of these ‘HELLBOY' films in the future, I hope so, especially with the very imaginative director Guillermo del Toro who certainly knows how to make the comic book hero come to life and it has been a great honour to add this beautiful designed Limited Edition SteelBook to my ever increasing SteeBook Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
This film which was released on Blu-ray in 2007 on a region free 50GB disc which has been encoded using MPEG-4 codec in full 1080p resolution in the original cinema aspect ratio of 1.85, comparing the region 1 DVD version of this movie I had against this UK released Blu-ray, the HD transfer shows it has a greater colour palette than the DVD this release also has a better range of hues and blacks which are deeper and of greater variation.
The real star of this release is the uncompressed PCM 5.1 audio which when played against Dolby Digital 5.1 version, the PCM soundtrack brings the whole audio playback to life with better all round sound performance, with easier to understand dialogue, a wider soundstage to the music and the bigger sound to the gunfire, hand to hand combat and speaker shaking explosions have an even more satisfying bass sound.
There are also audio tracks on this disc in Spanish PCM 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1.
There are also subtitles for the hard of hearing in English, Hindi and Spanish, there is also a director's commentary and the special features are in standard definition and follow the same contents as the double DVD released earlier a great addition to any action fan's Blu-ray collection.
However, buyers please note, this is the DIRECTORS CUT of the film, not the theatrical version.
This is no problem , except why then are there three `deleted scenes` amongst the extra features, when those scenes (whilst deleted from the theatrical release) are now IN the directors cut of the movie! They even the have `Directors Commentary` from the DVD release where Guillermo Del Toro talks about how they will be included in the Directors Cut when it comes out.
It's also a shame that there are so many special features from the 2 disc DVD that didn't make it onto here (although the 2 and half hour 'making of' documentary may fulfil a lot of people's needs in this department!).