From visionary writer and director Guillermo del Toro comes Hellboy, a supernatural action adventure based on Mike Mignola's popular Dark Horse Comics series of the same name. Born in the flames of hell and brought to Earth as an infant to perpetrate evil, Hellboy was rescued from sinister forces by the benevolent Dr. Broom, who raised him to be a hero. In Dr. Broom's secret Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, Hellboy creates an unlikely family consisting of the telepathic "Mer-Man" Abe Sapien and Liz Sherman, the woman he loves who can control fire. Hidden from the very society that they protect, they stand as the key line of defense against an evil madman who seeks to reclaim Hellboy to the dark side and use his powers to destroy mankind.
For more about Hellboy and the Hellboy Blu-ray release, see Hellboy Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on August 10, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Comic book adaptations have had a huge resurgence over the past several years, and it's no wonder: Comics and graphic novels have been an extremely fertile medium for creative expression since the early 20th century. They continue to be a breeding ground for original storytelling. Admittedly, however, my comic knowledge is a bit lacking and I'd never even heard of Hellboy when it hit theaters four years ago. So, with very little knowledge of the source material, I was surprised to find myself fascinated with the characters and scenarios portrayed in Guillermo del Toro's exciting and fresh big-screen adaptation.
Deep into the throes of World War II, a group of allied soldiers and scientists stumble upon a battalion of occult-obsessed Nazis as they attempt to open a portal to hell. The Nazis are quickly dispatched before they can succeed at their goal. In the midst of all the action, a strange demon manages to slip through the portal and is quickly befriended by a scientist on the scene. Flash forward sixty or so years and that young demon is now Hellboy: demon hunter, cat lover and the FBI's secret weapon against the forces of the occult. Bizarre, eh?
Ron Perlman is practically unrecognizable as the large-handed Hellboy
Well, it is bizarre, but Hellboy succeeds on almost every level. Again, not being familiar with the comic, I could have very easily been turned off by such material, but Hellboy is so straightforward and matter of fact, that what would ordinarily seem like a huge stretch of the imagination, comes across as totally believable. Well, for the most part. The film's effects work is above average throughout and the story is expertly conveyed. I was never bored and found the subject matter constantly interesting as well as entertaining. With all the sub-par summer action filler that hits theaters on a weekly basis, it's nice to see a film like Hellboy that succeeds in telling a good story that can appeal to the action crowd, comic book fans as well as general audiences alike.
Hellboy is, quite simply, a fantastic addition the the Blu-ray format. Like most of the recent Sony AVC encodes, this is yet another first-class example of how a film transfer should be done. The wonderfully saturated color palette of the film is vivid and never blooms, fine detail is exceptional and the picture is completely free of any distracting artifacts. Many of the scenes in the latter half of the film occur in snowy conditions and feature a character who is soaked, from head to toe, in blood. I was amazed at how this Blu-ray encode handled the extremes of bright crimson without ever blooming or bleeding into the white areas of the picture. This is another prime example of how high definition content that is well encoded can display extremely challenging material with relative ease. The sacrifices made on the DVD format in color accuracy, detail and contrast are a thing of the past with transfers of this quality on Blu-ray. Hellboy qualifies not only as absolute demo material, but also as being extremely faithful to its theatrical presentation.
In addition to the fantastic video presentation, Hellboy features an immaculate uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtrack. This really is an outstanding track with an immensely enveloping spacial ambience and impressive surround usage. While I've never been in an actual gunfight, I can only imagine that bullets flying past my head would sound pretty much like they do in Hellboy. There are many diverse settings in the film, from subway tunnels, museums and city streets to cemeteries and giant aquariums, that all spring to life with wonderful expressiveness. I was particularly impressed and awed by Hellboy's huge soundstage and its tight, accurate and deep bass. Once again, Sony displays their industry leading commitment to presenting outstanding uncompressed sound on Blu-ray.
-"Hellboy: The Seeds of Creation"
-"Scott McCloud's Guide to Understanding Comics"
-"Visual Effects How-to's"
-"Make-up and Lighting"
"Hellboy: The Seeds of Creation" kicks off the supplementary section of this Blu-ray edition with a bang. This lengthy and detailed documentary is the definitive viewer's guide to just about every detail regarding Hellboy. Guillermo del Toro's thoughtful and detailed commentary track serves as a companion piece to this feature and helps to underscore many of his directorial and creative decisions that keep the film true to its detailed source material. There are quite a few technical featurettes that can become a bit of a bore, but for a comic book novice like myself, "Scott McCloud's Guide to Understanding Comics" is a welcome addition.
I was convinced, before seeing the film, that Hellboy would be wasted on me. I didn't know the story and though it all looked a bit silly. I couldn't have been more wrong! This is an inventive and exciting film that is deliciously entertaining. The Blu-ray edition is remarkable with reference picture quality and a soundtrack that is every bit as impressive. The supplementary section of the disc is nicely presented (in standard definition) with plenty of features to satisfy the needs of the most ardent fan and the most clueless newcomer. Hellboy is one hell of a great addition to the ever-growing library of must-own Blu-ray releases.