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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Supernatural > Demons > Nazi > Hellboy – Director’s Cut (Blu-ray)

Hellboy – Director’s Cut (Blu-ray)


Picture: B+     Sound: B+     Extras: B-     Film: B



The highly profitable cycle of Superhero genre films have been dominated by the two dominant comic book producers: DC and Marvel.  However, they alone do not share the genre and some interesting films outside of their huge outfits have surfaced as the genre sees no end in sight.  Besides the mixed Spawn film, the unfortunate Constantine, interesting Ghost Rider and Guillermo Del Toro’s first film of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy comprise a subcycle in Superhero films of those where the hero is connected to Satan somehow.  Hellboy (2004) is the best of the subcycle yet.


Ron Pearlman does it again, this time on the button in the title role, as the young demon the Nazis bring into the mortal world as the fascists tamper with the supernatural.  He is saved from them, only to grow up and fight them, their evil and similar evil.  In this film, the first scene involves a brutal encounter with the Nazis and a wind-up killer robot henchman Kroenen (a very effective Ladislav Beran) who disappears after the initial battle.  Besides some Hellboy history via an amusing montage, the story kicks in and never stops.


Though Del Toro’s screenplay has some minor lapses (based on a story by Del Toro and Peter Briggs), the film is very consistent and in this longer cut, works best.  There are other interesting characters here too, like Abe Sapien (voiced by David Hyde Pierce, embodied by Doug Jones) who is psychic and ultra-intelligent.  John Hurt is very effective as Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm, Selma Blair is more than just “the girl” as Liz Sherman, Jeffrey Tambor delivers as Tom Manning and Karel Roden is properly villainous as Grigori Rasputin.


The film did not do well initially, but like the first Blade (which Del Toro did an almost self-contained sequel to) was fortunately rediscovered on home video and is a key Blu-ray release for Sony and the format.  The film is so different that some might not be able to get into it, but Hellboy impresses and do not be surprised if the character slowly just keeps gaining more and more momentum.  With some of the more popular big budget Superhero films not keeping audiences happy, the solid script is matched by its acting, visuals and action instead of being only about visuals and action.  As a result, a sequel is on the way.



The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image may have some obvious digital work in parts, but the cinematography by Director of Photography Guillermo Navarro, A.S.C., is very good, atmospheric, effective and consistent in bringing the world of the characters to life.  Sure, some color is downplayed, but it is far more thought out and clever, while some of the uses of color are superior.  This is far more obvious here in this Blu-ray edition than the DVD-Videos Sony previously issued.  Some shots are demo material.  The same Dolby Digital 5.1 from that DVD is here too, but neither can take on the English and even German PCM 16/48 5.1 mix the Blu-ray offers exclusively.  This is one of Marco Beltrami’s most interesting scores and when you ad the sound design with the unique design opportunities the film offers, it puts the mix up there with the best Superhero genre multi-channel films.


Extras are not as numerous as the 2-Disc Special Edition DVD, but you still get one of the two audio commentary tracks with Del Toro, the 2.5 hour Hellboy: The Seeds Of Creation documentary, three deleted scenes with optional Del Toro commentary, make up & lighting tests, Scott McCloud’s Guide to Understanding Comics and VFX How-To’s – a look at the film’s visual effects.


Diehard fans will hold on to the DVD set for now, while others will want to see the animated features until the sequel arrives.  We have reviewed the first animated DVD release Sword Of Storms, which you can read more about at this link:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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