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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Supernatural > Demons > Fantasy > Comic Book > Hellboy II - The Golden Army (2008/Universal Blu-ray + DVD-Video)

Hellboy II - The Golden Army (2008/Universal Blu-ray + DVD-Video)


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



When Columbia Pictures dropped the chance to do a sequel to Hellboy (2004), it was a surprise and I figured they would continue by lightening up the film and adding a little more humor.  That director Guillermo Del Toro would return and had a notable critical and commercial success with Pan’s Labyrinth made that decision all the more odd and possibly a mistake.  Universal picked up the film (along with a Dark Horse Comics contract) taking on the follow-up with great ambition.  The resulting Hellboy II - The Golden Army (2008) could have remained as dark, but instead was as expected, a little brighter and safer, though Del Toro retained a majority of the look and feel of the first, if not as intricately or as distinctly so.


For more about the film’s plot, try our theatrical review at this link, which includes links to our coverage of an animated DVD and the Blu-ray for the first film:





I just about agree with my friend’s analysis of the film, though I think it might work a bit more than he did, but not by much and not as well as the first film did.  Part of the problem is that when Del Toro makes sequels (Blade 2 being the other; he did not direct the first film), it becomes an exercise that assumes you saw the first film and becomes lax in reestablishing the world set by the first.  He also again tampers with some items that work, including Abe Sapien, who is simply not as effective or realistic here as he was in the first film.


The script has some fun moments and the money is on the screen, plus most of the original cast is back, especially the indispensable Ron Perlman and Jeffrey Tambor at his usual comic best.  No, this is not as dark or effective as the first and may be more typical of the hero vs. villain Superhero genre film, but it was lost in the huge wave of Dark Knight success and now that it has a few weeks on its own to win the home theater market, will hopefully finds the first two films a new audience.


The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image here is as rich and solid as that of the same on the Blu-ray of the first film with some of the more well thought-out digital effects in franchise filmmaking and Del Toro knows what he wants.  Though the effects are not as intricate, it is as detailed and the image is solid (good color, some good depth, shots with a narrative point) even when it is limited by some grain and minor degrading by the digital work.  Director of Photography Guillermo Navarro, A.S.C., is back, explaining the consistent look of this film and between the two films to date.  In this case, shots are lit a little more clearly and that is a plus on the Blu-ray, while the anamorphically enhanced DVD looks good for that format, but is no match for the Blu-ray.


The DTS HD Master Audio (MA) lossless 7.1 mix is one of the best 7.1 mixes we have come across to date and though the PCM 16/48 5.1 mix on the first film was impressive, this is even more dynamic with less of a sonic ceiling, more articulation and dynamic range throughout.  You also get DTS 5.1 Spanish & French 5.1 options on the Blu-ray, both of which still sound better than the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the DVD.  I was surprised Universal did not had DTS to the DVD, but the DTS 7.1 on the Blu-ray is up there with Pan’s Labyrinth, Hairspray and Dark City as among the best of the limited number of 7.1 mixes in the format to date.  Danny Elfman takes over form Marco Beltrami for the score here and does a decent job, but the intent it once again, more commercial.  This will be demo material for years to come.


Extras in both editions include digital copy for a limited time that allows you a free copy of the film for a PC/PC portable device, the 2+ hours-long making-of piece Hellboy: In Service Of The Demon, image galleries, Director’s Notebook, Production Workshop Puppet Theater, Deleted Scenes with optional Director’s Commentary, Troll Market Tour with Del Toro, Feature Commentary by Del Toro, Zinco Epilogue Animated Comic Book and DVD-ROM accessible screenplay.  The Blu-ray adds U-Control features that offer a more extensive Director’s Notebook, Concert Art Gallery & Set Visits while you watch the film.



For more on the first film, try this link:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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