HELLBOY: DIRECTOR'S CUT
Film review by Gordon Justesen
Technical specs by Michael Jacobson
Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Jeffrey Tambor, Karel Roden, Rupert Evans, John Hurt
Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, PCM 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 132 Minutes
Release Date: June 5, 2007
me why I do this again.”
eggs and the safety of mankind.”
It seems that just
about every single comic book creation is getting their big break on the big
screen, from Spider-Man to Daredevil
to The Punisher, etc. In fact, comic book characters are so populating
films right now that even the lesser known creations are getting a chance to
make their mark. Case in point, Hellboy.
I must confess
that, up until about a year or so before this film came out, I had no idea who
or what Hellboy even was. For someone
who claims to know his share of comic book hoopla, I did feel kind of
embarrassed. But then again, Hellboy
happens to be the product of Dark Horse Comics, perhaps the one comic book
distributor I fail to keep up with. It's clear, though, that this particular
comic book creation has a serious legion of fans. Otherwise, they're
wouldn't have been a strong desire to have a movie adaptation made.
It goes without
saying that having visionary master Guillermo Del Toro (Blade II) on board to direct and adapt a screenplay for the movie
certainly did the fans a whole lot of justice. Del Toro, a director with a gift
for painting truly eerie atmospheres, is the ideal choice for a movie like this.
The result is a visually spectacular action adventure, which carries an added
bonus of sheer campiness.
The movie's story
takes its time setting itself up, as demonstrated in the masterful opening of
the film. It opens during World War II, where it turns out that a group of Nazis
are attempting to conduct an experiment of horrific proportions. With the help
of demented scientist Grigori Rasputin (Karel Roden), the Nazis' goal is to
open up a portal to the dark side to bring forth the feared Seven Gods of Chaos.
The plot is then
foiled when U.S. forces, being aided by President Roosevelt's personal psychic
aid, invade. The experiment goes awry just as the portal is being opened,
resulting in Rasputin being sucked in the portal and disappearing. It is also
discovered that something came from the other side; that of a red demon baby
with a tail and a pair of horns.
The scientist takes
the infant in; raising him to become a big part of what will become a secret
organization battling extreme paranormal activity. Cut to the present, where the
same scientist, Professor Bruttenholm (John Hurt), has indeed done just that by
establishing the secret Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. The very
little demon boy has now grown into a larger than life presence named Hellboy,
the agency's lead operative.
Hellboy is played
magnificently by Ron Perlman, whose very physical structure indicates why he was
the ultimately perfect actor for the role, even if he had to endure endless
makeup in the process. Perlman also makes the character into something unique,
by injecting both sarcastic wit for great one liners, as well as putting a good
depth of humanity to Hellboy, since he was after all raised in a human fashion.
The central plot
involves the sudden return of Rasputin, who has been brought back from the other
side by way of a ceremony performed by two of his Nazi cohorts. As part of his
return to Earth, Rasputin has cut a deal with the dark gods; in exchange for
immortality and unlimited powers, he will open a gateway to Earth. In order to
do so, he must first convert Hellboy to the cause.
Although he's 7
feet tall, big and red, and doesn't necessarily fit in, Hellboy, or Red as he
is preferably known, can't even think to betray his life. He has two specific
reasons for it; his love for Prof. Bruttenholm, who is very much his adoptive
father, and a secret but undying affection for Liz (Selma Blair), a fellow agent
whose possesses the power to ignite fires whenever she gets excited. Since
Hellboy is technically “fireproof”, they would make a perfect couple.
Of all the action
displayed in Hellboy, the real kicker
is Red's extended battle with that of a slimy, reptilian like creature
that's been brought to life out of a museum artifact by way of the Nazi
enemies. The two have to fight each other on more than one occasion because this
creature can reproduce. Their duel on a subway train is a superb, pulse-pounding
Mixing in a way over the top plot scenario with fantastic visuals, gargantuan action packed thrills, and an a brilliantly uncanny performance by Perlman, Hellboy is top-notch eye candy done with pure craft and vision. Credit the gifted Guillermo Del Toro for painting a visually distinctive look to match the eccentric characters and their dimensions.
I always hate when I feel the need to knock off a little score for Blu-ray, especially with a disc as vibrant and colorful as this one. Most of it comes across spectacularly, but there are a few darker moments that struck me as a little murky and less detailed.
No issues with the uncompressed audio offering, as the plentiful action and expansive scenes make the 5.1 soundtrack expansive and dynamic. There are plenty of crossover signals, good clean dialogue, and a strong balance of text against the terrific music and special effects.
This disc features a solid commentary track by Guillermo Del Toro, as well as a much detailed documentary titled, "Hellboy: The Seeds of Creation", deleted scenes with optional commentary by Guillermo Del Toro, a look at the effects, make-up tests, and A Quick Guide to Understanding Comics with Scott McCloud.
Hellboy is a superb comic creation, and I'm glad to see that his adventures are continuing. This Blu-ray release is a good way to catch yourself up to speed before you head to the multiplex for the sequel.