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DVD Review: HELLBOY Director's Cut

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PHOTOGRAPHY

HELLBOY DIRECTOR'S CUT

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 132 minutes, 3 disc set that includes various commentary tracks, behind the scenes material, deleted scenes, galleries, animatics, and more (including the Excerpt From The Diary of Grigori Rasputin, created by Mike Mignola)

STUDIO: COLUMBIA/ REVOLUTION STUDIOS

RELEASE DATE: 10/19/2004

ANALYSIS: The HELLBOY Director's Cut fleshes out the movie even more and it is even a better movie that the Theater Cut. The DC is Guillermo del Toro's preferred version of the movie and some cuts were done to make the movie run under two hours for the theater version. He went back and restored 13 minutes which includes some new scenes (while extending others). Even more extras have been included for this DVD set propelling the DVD experience of this movie to another level.

VIDEO/AUDIO: The DC is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The video is as good as or better than the excellent quality of the transfer of the Theater Cut on the SPECIAL EDITION DVD. The colors and blacks are fantastic. No artifacts can be seen. Many of the special features are in 1.85 anamorphic widescreen while others are in 1.33:1.

HELLBOY has English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital language tracks with the option of English or French subtitles. Dialogue can be heard clearly. Music and sound effects are good. The 5.1 tracks are great as the SE. Special

Features are in English 2.0 Dolby Surround.

SPECIAL FEATURES: For the purposes of this review, I have posted some of the text from the review of the Special edition DVD since many of the extras are the same (like Disc 2 of the DC is exactly the same as the SE. Disc 3 features all new extras while disc 1 features some new extras and expands on some old extras.

disc one- The DC includes two new commentary tracks: the first by director Guillermo del Toro (newly recorded for the DC) and the other track is an isolated music score track (in 5.1 Dolby Digital) with commentary by composer Marco Beltrami. Gillermo del Toro talks about comics, Jack Kirby, H.P. Lovecraft, pulp fiction influences on Hellboy, the Hellboy universe and how the movie differs from the comics, how he got Ron Perlman to do Cronos, various reactions to the HELLBOY movie (including problems in the theaters including part of one scene being cut by projectionists), and what scenes were put back in (and others that were extended) for the Director's Cut in a very informative track about the movie (and the director). The director even mentions some scenes also cut out that won't be in any version of HELLBOY (but I want to know why none of those scenes were included in the deleted scenes on disc 2). The Composer track with the isolated score made me realize how powerful the music is in conveying mood in HELLBOY.

There is a storyboard track you can play with the movie (it is best to view when you are watching the movie or listening to the commentaries). It shows up every once in a while in the lower right hand corner of the screen and shows storyboards of certain scenes in the movie (more storyboards have been added to this track for the Director's Cut). The DVD Comic feature can be viewed as a branching feature from the movie or apart from the movie. The comics do have some background movement like flames, water, and so on. The scrolling text tells about the character or object. Te best DVD comic is the one on pancakes. Del Toro has expanded the text for the DVD Comics this time for this set. Also you can visit the Hellboy sets and look at various behind-the-scenes production footage from the day they shot certain scenes on the sets (and there is a branching feature where an icon will appear during the movie that takes you to that set). The cartoons from the Special Edition aren't included in this release.

DVD-ROM extras finish off the first disc with access to a printable screenplay, Script Supervisor's Book, and Excerpts from del Toro's Director's Notebook.

disc two- The first big feature of this disc is "Hellboy: Seeds of Creation", the 2 1/2 hours making-of-documentary on the movie. The documentary can viewed in individual featurettes or as one feature. You get to hear the story of how Mignola came to create Hellboy, see tons of pre-production video, wire work tests, the make-up being put on Ron Perlman into Hellboy, interviews with the cast and crew, and production footage (and clips from the movie). Extensive behind-the-scenes footage is seen throughout the documentary mixed in with interviews with cast and crew.

Next are three deleted scenes included on this DVD release (the second and third scenes are longer cuts of scenes that will be in the extended cut). After that, there are filmographies of the cast and crew. The characters of the movie have an illustrated comic strip story to each character and also included are text biographies (written by Del Toro) that run to 17 pages per main character.

The Korenen's lair menu allows one access to animatics, board-amatics, storyboard comparisons, and the Scene Progression for the Ogdru Jahad. Animatics shows a mix of animatics with storyboard-a-matics of 4 scenes (plus one bonus animatic that is an easter egg). The storyboard-a-matics gives access to five scenes (plus one hidden one which is another easter egg) through storyboards in sequence with limited animation. Then there is the multi-angle storyboard comparison of 4 scenes (plus one viewable through the DVD remote making a third easter egg on disc 2). You can use the angle control to view the scene against storyboards, the storyboards, or the final scene.

The Maquette Video Gallery shows video of the sculptures created of six characters/monsters and you can look at close-ups of each one.

The next items on the DVDs consist of 2 theatrical trailers and 9 TV spots for Hellboy. Then you can look at over two dozen concepts for posters being developed for the print campaign and see the final posters. Some of the unused posters show the title as HELLBOY: SEED OF DESTRUCTION while others say the movie will be out on Memorial Day weekend 2004(or summer 2004). There is an easter egg that can be accessed through the Bellamie Hospital menu (it shows a Hellboy poster sketch). Rounding out the DVD are previews for 10 other releases from Columbia that are coming to DVD including Anacondas: The Hunt For The Blood Orchid, Kaena, and The Forgotten.

disc three- The disc starts out with a video introduction by Ron Perlman you can select.

The Cast Video Commentary (with Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Jeffrey Tambor, and Rupert Evans) is the same commentary that appears as an audio commentary for the Theater Cut on the SE DVD. You get to see video of the Cast doing the commentary (with the movie mostly appearing as a small window on the video).

The Production Workshops menu features:

Make-up and Lighting Tests (with commentary by director Guillermo del Toro)- Del Toro talks about the lighting and make-up of Hellboy while video of various lighting (and make-up tests) are shown in 1.85:1 widescreen. Some lighting and filters work on Hellboy while others don't. He was trying to achieve a certain lighting scheme for teh character. He points out what flaws in the face make-up that he wants to fix for HELLBOY 2.

Visual Effects How-To's:

Bellamie Hospital/ B.R.P.D. Lift Miniatures- Behind-the-scenes footage of how the miniatures were created with interviews of people who built them.

Computer Generated Scenes/Behemoth- Lots of rough animation from Tippet Studios is shown as the VFX comes together.

Liz's Fire- They talk about how Liz's Blue Fire is created including camcorder test of a leather glove being set on fire.

Q&A Archive: Comic-Con 2003 (with Guillermo del Toro, Ron Perlman, and Mike Mignola)- This is a 23 minute cut-down version of the panel filmed by the Pre-Production Crew. Del Toro talks about what he wants for the movie, the Pre-Production work being done, and why some comic book movies suck. Del Toro swears a lot (but it is bleeped out). Mike Mignola says the comic book is in a parallel universe from the movie.

A Quick Guide To Understanding Comics (with Scott McCloud): This 12 minutes feature has comics creator Scott McCloud talking about the history of comics and what elements go into the artwork of Mike Mignola. Artwork from the Hellboy comics is shown. If you're interested by this featurette, I recommend you read McCloud's book, UNDERSTANDING COMICS.

Galleries: The extensive galleries are on the same level with the extensive galleries you see on the Extended Edition DVDs of THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

Conceptual Art & Production Stills provides various galleries of design sketches, production stills, and more. Many pages that can take one hours to look through all of the material.

Mike Mignola Pre-Production Art Gallery shows many of the various sketches Mike did for the movie. The Gallery has the option to play as a slideshow with commentary by HELLBOY Creator’s Mike Mignola. He talks about why he drew the various things, provides some interesting pre-production tidbits, art of scenes that didn't make it into the final shooting script, and how Mike originally envisioned HELLBOY as a slower movie.

Next is a Gallery of pages and pages of notes and sketches from the Director's Notebook. I'm glad del Toro and Javier Soto did the Director's Notebook Gallery right this time (since the Gallery of del Toro's notebook was a little too small on the screen for THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE Special Edition DVD).

The last gallery shows various Comic book Artist Pin-Ups.

Disc 3 also includes previews for DARK CRYSTAL, LABYRINTH, MIRROR MASK, and UNDERWORLD (with a bit at the end saying the Extended Unrated Cut is out on DVD).

SET DESIGN: This DVD set is beautifully designed. Each disc comes in it's own slim case with art of three of the main characters (Hellboy on disc 1, Liz on disc 2, and Abe on disc 3). The discs blend in with the inside color scheme of each sleeve. It is even cool to see a booklet that is an Excerpt From The Diary of Grigori Rasputin created by Mike Mignola. A Mike Mignola drawing of Hellboy adorns the cover of the slipcase that houses the three discs.

MENUS: Menus are incredible as the ones featured on the Special Edition DVD.

FINAL ANALYSIS: The 3 disc HELLBOY DIRECTOR'S CUT set definitely belongs in the ten best DVD sets of 2004. It improves on the wonderful HELLBOY Special Edition DVD. Javier Soto has produced a wonderful DVD set. The HELLBOY DIRECTOR'S CUT is on the same quality level of the excellent Extended Edition DVD sets of THE LORD OF THE RINGS. If you don't have the SE on DVD, the Director's Cut is the one to buy (even those who own the SE should buy the DC).

this DVD review is (c)10-21-2004 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com

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