Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Blu-ray / DVD)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Luke Goss
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Distributed by Universal Studios Home Entertainment
So what has to happen to make a sequel work? First you need everything that made the original film sequel-worthy to begin with back and in place. Second you give the audience more of what they had originally loved. And finally third you up the ante on just about everything from storyline to special effects. Hellboy II: The Golden Army does all of that and then some. Director Guillermo del Toro has delivered us a horror/fantasy film for the ages, and Universal Home Entertainment has delivered us a package that is no doubt a contender for Blu-ray/DVD of the year.
Once again Armageddon has reared its head and the human race faces possible extinction. What's caused all the hub-bub? The rogue Prince of the Underworld, Nuada (Goss), is tired of honoring a deal made years ago that would find humanity living in peace with the mythical creatures it was once at war with. As a result, and against his father the King's wishes, he awakens an ancient extermination squad dubbed The Golden Army to rectify the situation and return absolute power to the darker side. Good thing for us we have Big Red (Perlman) and his crew of paranormal outcasts to save us, but can a monster born of the fires of hell really be our savior, or is he just a band-aid on an increasingly bleeding wound? The answer to that question will no doubt be answered in Part III, but for now let's just revel in the wonder of this amazing sequel, shall we?
Let me just get this out of the way ... this movie kicks ass on every conceivable level. There's just so much going on and so much to see. The flick is dripping with enough monsters and action to make the Star Wars films seem light on both. Never mind Lucas' celebrated cantina scene in Episode IV, one stroll through del Toro's Troll Market will instantly capture your imagination and make you forget all about it. It's that damned good. For more on the film itself, check out our Hellboy II: The Golden Army theatrical review here. It totally nails it, and there's so much to go through supplemental-wise that we need to get started immediately.
The film is available as three separate packages with unique features in each: a single DVD, a three-DVD set, and of course a two-disc Blu-ray edition. All are linked below for your purchasing needs, and the supplemental materials on each package have also been noted so you will know what you're buying.
On all three releases you'll be getting two commentaries, one with with director Guillermo del Toro and the other featuring cast members Jeffrey Tambor, Selma Blair, and Luke Goss. Sadly, Perlman is nowhere to be found here, and his presence is conspicuous and sorely missed. Still, both tracks offer a sufficient amount of bang for your buck, but brother, you haven't seen or heard anything yet. Next up we have something called Set Visits, which offers viewers seven mini-documentaries on all of the various stages of the film. This is way cool, but each mini-doc pales in comparison to the next goodie -- The Troll Market Tour with Guillermo del Toro. Through sketches, behind-the-scenes video, etc., Guillermo walks us through one of the best scenes in film history, and in the end if you're like me, you'll be thoroughly pleased and grinning from ear to ear. From there we have several deleted scenes with optional commentary by del Toro and an animated Zinco epilogue comic. Pretty sweet.
The next set of features we're talking about appear on the three-DVD set and the Blu-ray two-disc set only. The superstar supplement here is no doubt the over two-hour long making-of feature Hellboy: In Service Of The Demon. Honestly? We could do a whole other review on this alone. In it you will get every single in-depth bit of background and every snippet of behind-the-scenes info that you could possibly want to know about the creation of Hellboy II: The Golden Army. It's a slam dunk! But wait ... there's more! Much more! Also appearing is something called Prologue, which serves as a special introduction to the DVD from del Toro, a Director's Notebook that's filled with interviews, image scans, and text from del Toro’s personal notebook, a concept art gallery, a banner and poster gallery, and finally a featurette called Production Workshop: Professor Broom’s Puppet Theatre that gives us a look at the making of the film's incredible opening. Tack on the script for DVD Rom users and a digital copy for portable players, and we're done!
Tired yet? I know I am, but there's even more exclusive content to talk about! On to the Blu-ray. There's no doubt Big Blu has been good to Big Red as there's a bevy of exclusive and cool features to explore in this hi-def package. Let's dive on in.
The picture quality and the sound mix on this Blu-ray are simply astounding. Flicks like this are what the medium was created for! Every detail of onscreen action is delivered in eye-popping fashion thanks to full 1080p resolution, and if you can support it, the 7.1 surround mix will have you drooling. 5.1 users needn't worry, though, as that DTS HD audio track more than holds its own. But what of the exclusives? First and foremost full advantage has been taken of both BD-Live and Universal's U-Control features. What's that mean you ask? Strap in!
Using B-D Live will allow you to do a lot of nifty stuff while watching the film like chatting with other people who are digging on the Hellboy II: The Golden Army Blu-ray at the same time that you are! Man, how far we have come, eh? You can also share your favorite scenes, peep a sneak peek at the upcoming release of Wanted, and to further feed your inner geek, there's even a comic book builder that will enable you to craft your own story by taking stills from the movie and dropping them into a comic book format. From there these slivers of self-crafted cool can be e-mailed to friends or published via BD-Live buddy lists for others to enjoy.
Through U-Control there's the Scene Explorer: Schufften Goggle View option that will let you watch scenes from the film as it progresses from storyboards to early renderings of the visual effects to finally the finished version of the movie. In addition to that there's a Comic Book Back-Story Interactive Feature in which you'll be able to click on motion pages throughout the movie and get some back story on each character. Finally, there are interactive versions of the aforementioned Set Visits and Director's Notebook features that you can access via pop-up window while watching the movie. Seriously, does it get any cooler? Not much, that's for sure.
There you have it! A mountain of a package to scale with a smile on your face. Hellboy II: The Golden Army is a movie you shouldn't be without no matter what you buy it on. Either way you just cannot lose! Go ahead ... click one of the links below and treat yourself! Wow. Just wow.
5 out of 5
5 out of 5