Hellboy: Director's Cut (2004)
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Introduction-Guillermo del Toro (Director)
Dolby Digital Trailer
Audio Commentary-Guillermo del Toro (Director)
Audio Commentary-Marco Beltrami (Composer) - Isolated Musical Score
Seamless Branching-DVD Comics
Seamless Branching-'The Right Hand Of Doom' Set Visits
DVD-ROM Extras-Printable screenplay, artwork
Introduction-Selma Blair (Disc 2) And Ron Perlman (Disc 3)
Featurette-Hellboy: The Seeds Of Creation
Featurette-Scene Progression, Animatics And More...
Gallery-Maquette Video Gallery
Deleted Scenes-Q & A Archive: Comic-Con 2002
Featurette-Cast Video Commentary
Featurette-Make-Up And Lighting Tests, With Director's Commentary
Featurette-Visual Effects How-Tos (3), Q& A Archive: Comic-Con 2002
Featurette-A Quick Guide To Understanding Comics
More…-TV Spots, Print Campaign, Trailers, Web Link-Merchandise...
|Year Of Production||2004|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (3)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Guillermo Del Toro|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, clothing, confectionary and alcoholic beverages.|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
Guillermo del Toro's adaptation of the popular Dark Horse comic by Mike Mignola represents one of the coolest and most faithful transitions from comic to film. Guillermo's previous directorial efforts include The Devil's Backbone, Mimic and Blade 2, as well as one of my all-time favourites, the dark fairytale Cronos. If I had to compare Hellboy to one of these, I'd say it closely resembles Blade 2 most of all in style, but carries a lot of the visual aspect of the comic along with it. As Ron Perlman himself says, this is as much of a homage to the comic as you can get. It shouldn't surprise you that the biggest thing that is evident within the three discs of extra material presented here is the respect and love Guillermo has for Mignola's creation. The creator was involved in many aspects of the film's production, and is even credited with a production role, which indicates an intention to stay faithful to the popular comic from the outset.
Anung Un Rama, the red demon, was inadvertently drawn into our dimension during the second world war by a group of Nazi scientists who were trying to increase the military power of Adolf Hitler via an occult ceremony. Only an infant at the time, the bright red demon with a giant stone right hand was adopted by professor Broom, a military adviser, and nicknamed Hellboy. The government took Hellboy (Ron Perlman) under its wing and supplied Broom (John Hurt) with the funds to raise him as an agent for their secret organisation, the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence (B.P.R.D.). Now an adult (60 years later!), Hellboy is joined at the bureau by Abe Sapien, an amphibious being with unique mental abilities and Liz Sherman, a young woman with pyro-kinetic powers. Together they sort out paranormal activities, which means a lot of monsters and slime, basically.
There are a number of angles that make the Hellboy character vastly different to the typical superhero fare most people are familiar with. Firstly, Hellboy is a blue collar man, a hard worker with gadgets who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. He curses, groans, smokes cigars and hurts himself often, and is never short of a wise crack. Add to this a bizarre affection for cats and you have yourself a six foot nine, bad-ass monster killer! The link between the Nazis and the occult has been explored in film before, most notably in the Indiana Jones trilogy. Hellboy focuses more on the supernatural possibilities. Suffice it to say that the involvement of Nazis is where the similarities between these films end.
The makeup and prosthetics for the Hellboy character look absolutely amazing and were devised by the workshop of renowned effects guru Rick Baker, who was also responsible for the effects in films such as Harry and the Hendersons and It's Alive!. The other main characters were optioned out to other companies, but all look equally great.
The differences between this longer Director's Cut and the theatrical cut are highly noticeable if you are familiar with the latter. The Director's Cut features additional character development, particularly within the relationship between Liz (Selma Blair) and Myers (Rupert Evans). A couple of minor plot threads are added, in fact some of the deleted scenes contained on the theatrical DVD are present here in much more condensed forms. After finally seeing the Director's Cut I am still content with the theatrical version of this film to a certain degree, as the Director's Cut gains a very different flow from the additional material.
The relentless action, superb effects, outstanding performances and dry humour of Hellboy made it my favourite film of 2004. It is in my opinion one of the best comic book adaptations to be put to film and in this case has been married with the most extensive collection of extras I have had the pleasure to review. Despite their length and interesting content, the wit and charm of Director Guillermo del Toro shines through and makes them all the more enjoyable. Bring on Hellboy 2, I say!
I'm happy to report that this video transfer is virtually flawless and free of any real issues of concern.
The transfer is presented in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement.
There is a great degree of sharpness present, revealing impressive detail in both foreground and background objects. A tiny bit of film grain is visible now and then, but certainly won't trouble the average viewer. The scene in which I most noted the presence of grain is when John Myers first enters the BPRD headquarters foyer, and this scene lasts for less than half a minute. Still, I found the level of clarity and depth within the transfer very satisfying. Shadow detail and black levels remained solid throughout and true to the bold nature of the comic. There was no low level noise evident in the transfer.
The film's colour range has undergone digital grading in post production, presumably to give it a certain consistency with the imagery in the original comic. Reds in particular are deep and striking, while blues appear to have been a little muted in some scenes. There's certainly no colour bleeding or oversaturation present in the transfer.
MPEG artefacting is nowhere to be seen - the bitrate more than accommodates the constant motion on screen. Film artefacts are similarly absent. In fact, aside from a slight scratch at 82:22 the print is pristine. Despite the pleasantly sharp transfer, there was very little aliasing visible on my system.
Both English and English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are included on the disc, and follow the dialogue fairly closely. I didn't notice any spelling or grammatical errors of any kind within the subtitle streams. Location titles are burned into the video stream throughout, as are several lines of Russian dialogue, beginning around the 94 minute mark.
This disc is dual layered, with the layer transition placed during the feature at 64:25. The pause is well placed and barely noticeable.
There are three soundtracks accompanying this film on DVD. The default soundtrack is English Dolby Digital 5.1, while a Director's commentary and Isolated score are also optional. I listened to all three soundtracks in their entirety for the purposes of this review.
The English dialogue is crystal clear and succinct at all times. The ADR results are seamless and realistic. Audio sync is flawless.
I was stunned by the surround activity of this DVD on my first viewing. The use of the surround channels can only be described as consistent and immersive, although at times it does border on aggressive - which I love, mind you. The rear channels are used for all manner of dedicated effects and ambient noises, from subtle atmospheric sounds to dedicated Foley effects. The score is carried from all angles and comes across particularly full and lively. Voices are generally confined to the front centre channel and only stray on occasion.
The score by Marco Beltrami is grand and orchestral, with about half a dozen main themes spread throughout. I highly recommend the isolated score track, as it features some great commentary from Beltrami himself about the scoring process. This is Marco's third score for Guillermo, the others being Mimic and Blade 2.
The subwoofer or LFE track is almost as active as the surround channels. Low frequency effects are used throughout the film to build tension and give backbone to larger scale sound effects such as explosions and the like. Although I'm sure the level of subwoofer use may be a little excessive to some people's tastes, I loved it!
|Surround Channel Use|
This is a daunting, but highly enjoyable mix of extra material, covering every conceivable aspect of the film's production. All of the content is presented at 1.78:1, with 16x9 enhancement unless otherwise noted. None of the extra features are subtitled.
Our humble Director, Guillermo, briefly touches upon each of the features to be found on this disc.
Guillermo establishes early that this is his preferred cut of the film, citing the improved character development and overall flow. Interestingly, he explains that he originally wanted to make Hellboy in 1997 but struggled to raise studio interest. It appears that while the box office failure of sacrilegious rubbish such as Stallone's Judge Dredd only made studios hesitant and served to stall Hellboy's production, the success of The Matrix and later X-Men made comic book adaptations fashionable and in turn helped bring Hellboy to the screen.
Guillermo rarely stops for breath and never becomes a bore, and even though English is clearly his second language he always comes across intelligently and clearly. He introduces new or extended scenes when they appear, explains the decisions that were made regarding the theatrical cut and details his relationship with collaborator Mike Mignola and actor Ron Perlman. His love of comic books is obvious and he regularly touches upon both the similarities and differences with Mignola's comic and his own previous films, such as Mimic, The Devil's Backbone, Blade 2 and Cronos. The possibilities for Hellboy 2 are also raised on a number of occasions, so the production of another sounds assured. Hooray!
This is Marco's third film with Guillermo, and he seems to have a great deal of respect for him as a filmmaker. In his few short passages of commentary, Marco explains his choice of instrumentation within certain themes, particularly the Theremin and oboe. The baritone electric guitar in the main theme is discussed at length, as are the character specific themes and musical cues. Marco speaks over music sometimes to explain transitions or motives, but his approach is very interesting, as is his relationship with Guillermo. This soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, with a nicely weighted 448Kb/s bitrate.
When activated, a comic cover icon appears at certain points in the film, linking to eight short pieces that offer background info on the characters in the film. These are illustrated by Mike Mignola and written by Guillermo del Toro.
The 'comics' are comprised of simple flash style animation and can be viewed individually via another menu page if you don't want to wait through the entire film.
Similar to the above feature, this activates an icon of Hellboy's red right hand which links to eight short behind-the-scenes featurettes.
The featurettes are also viewable as a whole, or individually via a separate menu.
The excellent storyboard art by Simeon Wilkins is viewable in sync with the film, although I had some serious problems viewing this feature on my PC. The storyboard frames are presented as pixelated greyscale images, positioned at the bottom right of the frame. Only the film's key scenes are represented and there are some big gaps present - indeed, several times I became absorbed in the film and forgot that the feature was active.
When you insert the disc into your PC a page loads with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence logo and the following options, all of which are fully printable and include help screens.
Web links to Sony Pictures, Columbia-Tristar Home Entertainment and the official Hellboy webpage, Hellsite.com are included at the bottom of the main menu.
The DVD credits are hidden, and consist of many pages of thankyous and the like. In the special features menu highlight the main menu button, then press your down arrow twice, followed by enter.
Selma gives us a quick overview of the contents of the second disc, which is divided into four distinct sections based around scenes within the film, each offering unique insights into the film's production and marketing.
They were deleted from the theatrical cut, however in the case of the Director's Cut these actually serve as extended scenes. All are available with an optional Director's commentary and are presented in 1.85:1, unfortunately without 16x9 enhancement.
The cornerstone of disc two, this extensive documentary moves chronologically through the making of the film and is separated into four sections; Pre-Production, Principal Photography, Second Unit and Post Production. We begin with an exploration of how Mike Mignola conceived the Hellboy character, flowing directly into Guillermo del Toro's slightly different approach, and their overwhelming respect for each other's work. All manner of staff are interviewed, including puppeteers, make-up artists, stunt co-ordinators, lighting technicians, casting co-ordinators, costume designers, set designers and builders. I found the ADR recording of particular interest, as well as the final soundtrack mix at Skywalker Sound.
For me, this documentary felt half its runtime and was interesting from beginning to end - but for someone with less interest in the film it could be rather long. There are no subtitles provided, and all of the profanity is beeped - which always irritates me. Still, this is certainly an above average effort.
Brief filmographies are available for assorted crew, including director Guillermo del Toro, creator Mike Mignola and composer Marco Beltrami. Each of the principal cast are also covered, as well as very cool illustrated biographies of their respective characters. I normally find these biographies tedious to sort through, but these are particularly interesting and very well laid out.
This is a pretty interesting break down of the scene in which the Ogdru Jahad breaks free of its crystal prison. The sequence begins with simple conceptual sketches and blends into full scale storyboards, with the corresponding scene from the film playing in the bottom right corner. The piece is preceded by a short explanatory intro from Guillermo.
There are five parts to this section. Each of the animatics are viewable in full screen or side by side with their corresponding scene from the film.
There is a minor error here, in that the Board-A-Matics process occurs earlier and should be placed before Animatics in the DVD menu, but this doesn't present a major problem. You'll recognise some of these from the Storyboard Track on disc one. These are also viewable in full screen or side by side with their corresponding scene from the film.
These are very similar to the Animatics and Board-A-Matics, however the presentation is different. The fullscreen and side-by-side comparisons are interchangeable by using the angle function on your remote.
This feature displays some exquisite sculptures that were created in pre-production, each with the ability to zoom in for further detail. The characters covered include Baby Hellboy, Abe Sapien, Sammael, Ogdru Jahad, The Corpse and Behemoth.
These are viewable individually or via a play all function, with a combined runtime of nearly five minutes. The aspect ratios vary, and none are 16x9 enhanced.
The poster gallery is divided into two sections, the first titled Poster Explorations - consisting of many alternative posters that were never used. The second is Final Campaign, a gallery consisting of twelve pieces of poster art used to promote the film.
Five trailers for upcoming Columbia films are available, including Resident Evil: Apocalypse, White Chicks, You Got Served, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid and the new Jack Black / Ben Stiller comedy Envy.
Ron gives us a quick overview of the contents of Disc 3.
If you're a Hellboy purist and are lamenting at the lack of any theatrical cut in this package, think again. What we have here is the cast commentary from the two disc theatrical version of the DVD, including cast members Jeffrey Tambour, Ron Perlman, Selma Blair and Rupert Evans. The theatrical cut of the film plays in a small window throughout the commentary and sometimes blows up to full screen, while two cameras capture the interaction between cast members. Even though the cast are entertaining to hear, I noted some factually incorrect statements - for example, Rupert refers to some shots as CGI when the Seeds of Creation Documentary clearly states otherwise. Shortcomings aside, the cast are never short of praise for Guillermo and share many hilarious anecdotes relating to the film's production and generate some genuinely funny moments. All things considered, I think it's great to see this commentary included in the set, and it's also interesting to be reminded of the differences in the theatrical cut of the film. I should also mention that given that the runtime is identical to the NTSC theatrical cut, this feature is an NTSC-PAL conversion.
Guillermo discusses the many assorted filters and lighting options associated with the Hellboy character, and his endeavours to find a happy medium between the look of the comic and his intentions for the film. The colour red appears to have been the biggest hurdle when it came to filming, as Guillermo finally opted to use digital grading rather than any specific camera filters.
Guillermo del Toro, Ron Perlman and Mike Mignola first broke the news regarding the Hellboy film to a packed comic convention in 2002. Guillermo is as charming as ever and clearly appreciates the need for his film to be accepted by the comic-buying public, and more importantly the established fans of Mignola's work. Among many other aspects to the film's pre-production, Guillermo discusses his fondness for the comic and his intentions, specifically regarding the film's colouring and depth of black. Although it's only presented in 1.33:1, the quality of this presentation varies but it's still definitely worth checking out.
Scott McCloud offers us a brief background of comic publishing, followed by a thought provoking analysis of the common comic's composition and relevance in modern society. There are many angles raised by Scott that had never occurred to me, such as the use of various colours to gain an emotional response. This is relatively short, but worthwhile viewing.
These are the most extensive still galleries I have come across - the wealth of info here is staggering.
Aside from dubbed languages and the like, there's nothing separating the Region 4 and Region 1 releases of this three disc set. You may be interested to know what you miss out on if you purchase this Director's Cut instead of the 2-Disc Theatrical Cut DVD:
The Gerald McBoing Boing cartoons are excellent and sport a superb transfer to DVD, putting many other cartoons of a similar vintage to shame.
If you're a fan of this film, you simply cannot go past the three disc Director's Cut. Die-hards will want both DVD sets for the Guillermo / Mignola commentary, but I'll leave the decision up to you.
The video transfer is excellent.
The audio transfer is excellent.
The extras are numerous and informative, with a wealth of information relating to the film.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-525, using Component output|
|Display||Panasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Denon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.|