‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army’ Blu-ray Review
Guillermo del Toro has a keen eye for visual style that will blow away your mind. ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ was highly praised film that catapulted del Toro to a similar pedestal as Tim Burton for creativity. ‘Hellboy’ first saw release as a comic book under the Dark Horse Comics line. In 2004 del Toro worked on the original ‘Hellboy’ film. While visually the film was excellent using del Toro’s prolific style, the story is what was even more engaging. ‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army’ wasn’t as successful at the box office with a $154 million dollar worldwide gross.
In the original film, we saw the origins of Hellboy (Ron Perlman) unfold during World War II Nazi era as they tried to raise a demon that would wipe out humanity. Then the U.S. government comes to the rescue stopping the demon from entering our world, yet Hellboy is summoned instead. Hellboy is a small, cute, devil looking creature that the U.S. government takes with them and he is eventually adopted by Professor Trevor Bruttenholm (John Hurt). Hellboy is living secretly in a facility where other species found over the years have been living at under the supervision of Tom Manning (Jeffrey Tambor). Hellboy is joined by Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) and the human/fish Abe Sapien (Doug Jones).
‘Hellboy II’ begins by giving the viewer a brief introduction to the origins of Hellboy (Ron Perelman). Then we are taken to the past when Hellboy was a child with his adoptive father reading him a Christmas story. This was a bit confusing and odd choice, but the effect worked as we jump out of the pages of the book and into the action of present day. The story of ‘Hellboy II’ revolves around Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) trying to unleash The Golden Army. Both Hellboy and Nuada have one thing in common and they are both tired of living in secret. While Hellboy wants to get out with the humans and mingle, Nuada wants to leave the underground elf kingdom to conquer Earth making it the new elf kingdom.
The Golden Army is an army of robots about 13 feet tall in size that were used centuries ago in battle against elves and humans. With the complete golden crown in one’s possession they can control The Golden Army to do their evil bidding. Prince Nuada needs to collect the three pieces of the crown to bring The Golden Army back to life. Nuada claims the first piece of the crown in an auction house with the help of his friend Mr. Wink (Brian Steele). His father King Balor (Roy Dotrice) and twin sister Princess Nuala (Anna Walton) have the final pieces needed to make the crown whole again. Hellboy and his team are called in to find out what has happened to the people at the auction house. We are also introduced to a new team member, Professor Dr. Krauss (Seth MacFarlane) who is an apparition that zips in and out of his suit to help the team out.
This leads Hellboy, Liz, and Abe to a fantasy world filled with fairies, goblins, golems, ogres, and all kinds of fairy tale themed creatures. It was amazing that del Toro brought this world to life from small creatures like the fairies to the towering golem looking beasts. These CGI creatures are just breathtaking they look so lifelike. The tree like creature had me in awe; this thing was the size of a skyscraper.
While ‘Hellboy II’ is a technical marvel with visuals, I found that the story was over bloated. This didn’t allow enough time for character development. I wasn’t too fond of Liz’s revelation later on in the film. There was just something that didn’t click with me on the delivery. The film’s pace moved to quickly for my liking and there was too many elements introduced to the story that become lost in the scheme of things. I wasn’t too happy about the romance part of the story, and especially once a certain secret is let out of the bag. With these minor complaints aside, ‘Hellboy II’ is a nice follow-up to the first film.
The print is presented in 1080p AVC MPEG-4 codec with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Colors are very bold, with Reds and Blacks being vibrant. Once Hellboy gets to the underworld, colors just pop off the screen looking so ever beautiful. The CG is well balanced with the live action footage which makes the film look lifelike. The film looks absolutely stunning with details due to the strong color management. There is subtle grain throughout the film, but never gets intrusive.
The audio is presented in DTS-HD 7.1 MA lossless mix. This is demo material audio for ‘Hellboy II’. I was very impressed on how dynamic the soundfield is with the rears getting a lot of usage during action sequences. Even more impressive was the use of the rears when there isn’t any ongoing action. There were scenes with the fairies where you could hear them swarming around as I was thinking one of them came into my living room. Dialogue is also well balanced coming through very clean and crisp.
All the special features are available in standard definition via a 2 disc set. One disc is a BD50 and the second disc is a DVD which also encompasses the Digital Copy of the film.
- Concept Art Gallery
- Director’s Notebook
- Set Visits
- Comic Book Builder
- Audio Commentary with Director Guillermo del Toro
- Audio Commentary with Cast Members Jeffrey Tambor, Selma Blair and Luke Goss
- “Troll Market Tour with Guillermo del Toro”
- Animated Zinco Epilogue Comic
- Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by director Guillermo del Toro
Disc 2 DVD
- Digital Copy
- “Prologue” with Guillermo del Toro
- “Hellboy: In Service of the Demon”
- “Marketing Campaigns”
‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army’ is a rather interesting sequel that is excellent on the visual front, but is over bloated in terms of the story. Picture quality is good, but the audio is reference material that is very immersive. With a plethora of features, there is a lot here that will keep any fan busy for a few hours. I highly recommend ‘Hellboy II’ as a rental and if you are a fan of the series the Blu-ray is a definite purchase.