As the Nazis are beaten back and defeated at every turn, their forces begin to dwindle and the chance of victory is slim. A plan is needed if a final wave of attacks is to be forged, otherwise a surrender is more in order. So the Nazis turn to black magic master Grigory Rasputin (Karel Roden), who plans to open a portal into another dimension and set loose the Ogdru Jahad, the Seven Gods of Chaos. If this action is completed, the world would be thrust into suffering and servitude, in a tidal wave of violence and brutality. But just in time, American forces raid the location of the ritual and the portal is closed in time. Well, sort of. A baby demon managed to sneak through the portal, but he is scooped up and taken by the American forces. The imp is called Hellboy and taken to paranormal research facilities, where more can be learned of his powers. Decades later, Rasputin emerges once again and has new plans to bring the end of the world closer. But the world has a hero that can stand up to the forces of evil and that hero is Hellboy (Ron Perlman). He is now grown and able to use his immense powers for good, as well as for romance, as evidenced by his love interest, the pyrokenetic Liz (Selma Blair). But can even Hellboy and his crew stop Rasputin this time, or will the world fall into darkness?
The world of comic books has been raided by movie producers, with all kinds of famous comic book stars exploding onto the silver screen. But I doubt anyone expected Dark Horse’s unusual hero Hellboy to star in his own epic adventure, let alone one that made decent bank and left audiences primed for a sequel. Guillermo del Toro (Blade II, The Devil’s Backbone) took an obscure comic book and turned it into a wild, over the top action picture that retains all the humor, tone, and depth of the original source material. I am sure some folks will find fault with the adaptation, but I though this movie was quite faithful to the comic book. Ron Perlman was the ideal choice to take on the title role, while the rest of the cast is also terrific. You’ll see Selma Blair, John Hurt, and Jeffrey Tambor, all in fun, well crafted roles. But the performances take a backseat to the visuals, as Hellboy shines with incredible cinematography, wild special effects, and some wicked makeup effects. The budget was well spent in this case, as you can see almost every last cent up on the screen. Hellboy is the kind of movie that you can tell was fun to make, the actors seem into it and the production team nailed the bullseye. This new three disc edition sports the much awaited director’s cut, plus a slew of supplements, old and new, so fans will jump at the chance to nab this release.
If an actor can be destined for a role, then without a doubt, Ron Perlman was destined to be cast in this role. I remember when the project was announced, before any casting decisions had been made, the internet was abuzz with rumors on who would play Hellboy. Of course, most folks were sure the studio would demand a high profile, bankable star, but we all knew that would doom the movie. The name most mentioned as the best choice was Perlman, who wound up scoring the role, after both the director and the comic book’s creator agreed he was the natural choice. I mean, if you look at the comic books, the character even looks like Perlman, as if the artist knew all along that the film would be produced with him in the role. But it isn’t just the look, as Perlman pulls out all the stops in a no holds barred performance. Even under countless hours of makeup, Perlman shines and cuts loose in a wild, enthusiastic effort. I can’t even imagine anyone else in this role, as Perlman is a perfect choice in all respects. Other films with Perlman include Enemy at the Gates, Star Trek: Nemesis, Alien: Resurrection, The Last Supper, The City of Lost Children, Cronos, and Romeo is Bleeding. The cast also includes Selma Blair (Cruel Intentions, Legally Blonde), Jeffrey Tambor (My Boss’s Daughter, How the Grinch Stole Christmas), and John Hurt (The Osterman Weekend, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin).
Video: How does it look?
“Hellboy” is presented in a very nice-looking 1.85:1 HD AVC transfer that really gives new life to the movie. I watched this movie with my girlfriend on her 32″ TV in standard definition. I then re-watched this movie again when I got home on my system and, truthfully, it’s like watching another movie. Everything is so much sharper, more detailed. Not to mention the sound, but we’ll get into that later. The colors are very saturated in this film and with the main star being bright red; well let’s just say that it’s a very unique look. Some of the darker scenes looked to have the slightest bit of noise in the blacker than black sections, but nothing too bad. Overall, I felt the transfer was top notch and I don’t think viewers will be let down in the least.
Audio: How does it sound?
Again, I watched a few scenes in the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 track and then re-watched those scenes (and the rest of the movie) in the PCM uncompressed audio. I mean, it’s a night and day difference here folks. The uncompressed audio track rocks and especially during some of the ending fight sequences between Hellboy and the various creatures that await him. Dialogue is very clean and natural as we’d expect. Surrounds make their presence known very early on and pretty much stay active throughout the entire film. Anyone wanting a robust audio experience here is certainly in for a treat.
Supplements: What are the extras?
There were two different versions of “Hellboy” on standard DVD, a fairly straight forward offering containing a variety of supplements and a much more robust three disc edition that pretty much had all you could ever want to know about the movie. Unfortunately, this Blu-ray release of “Hellboy” does contain the Director’s Cut of the movie but not nearly the amount of supplements that were contained in the three disc edition. We start off with the audio commentary from Guillermo Del Toro who gives us plenty of information in his thick accent. Some of the information is a bit redundant as it’s repeated on the six-part documentary (ported over from the three disc set) which runs about two and a half hours. This documentary is pretty all-inclusive and probably worth the price of admission right there. Also shown are some deleted scenes with some optional commentary, some make up and lighting tests with Ron Pearlman (dressed as Hellboy) and some Video FX “How To’s”. Lastly, we get Hellboy comic book creator Scott McCloud’s take on how to understand comics. While this version doesn’t have all the features of the three disc set, the superior audio and video are a real treat and the six part documentary makes this an easy recommendation for fans of the movie.