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by David Blackwell

Guillermo Del Toro may look like the demented Mexican love child of Santa Claus, but Del Toro is a genius who is full of so much energy. He is a visionary director who knows what he wants. He made HELLBOY a very enjoyable movie (with THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE being Del Toro's best movie so far) due to being able to carry out his vision of wanting to do the movie his way including casting Ron Pearlman as Hellboy.

HELLBOY is about a red skinned demon who has been raised to fight the forces of evil (for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense). Rasputin has been resurrected again to use Hellboy as a pawn to bring about the sevn Gods of Chaos to destroy humankind. Hellboy is helped in the fight against evil with the aid of Agent Myers, Liz Sherman (who is a pyrokentic), and the fishman Abe Sapien. The movie is a visual eye candy with a story that makes you care for the characters. Director Del Toro has made one of the best big budget movies of 2004.   Now HELLBOY looks to be one of the best 2-disc Special Edition DVDs of 2004.

VIDEO/AUDIO: HELLBOY is presented in 1.85 anamorphic widescreen. The colors are important to this movie. The blues and reds are very prominent in this movie. The blacks are nice and dark. The video is sharp and clear- no visible artifacts.

You can hear it in English or French 5.1 Dolby Digital with the option of English or French subtitles. The sound is great. Dialogue is clear, sounds and music are loud.

COMMENTARY TRACKS (disc one): The most fun and informative of the tracks is the one done by director Guillermo Del Toro and the creator (of Hellboy) Mike Mignola. Del Toro talks about some of the conditions during shooting, set design to some locations, what may be included in the director's cut, and praise for the actors. Del Toro and Mignola seem to be on the same wavelength, but Mignola did make sure the director didn't do a scene with a giant baby cradle. Mike comments on what is some of his favorite shots in the movie. Del Toro also comments that the moments between Hellboy and Liz were inspired by how Del Toro relates with his wife.

The second commentary is the cast commentary with Ron Pearlman, Selma Blair, Jeffrey Tambor, and Rupert Evans. The four actors do give some insight into the production, their work on the production, and give praise to the Hellboy comic book. It is a fun and light hearted commentary track. The actors are having fun doing this track.

SPECIAL FEATURES:   Many of the extras on the 2 discs are in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen.

disc one- 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. 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. the best DVD comic is the one on pancakes. 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).

"From The Den"- Hellboy Recommends is a section of the DVD that has access to four cartoons that were featured in the movie- three Gerald McBoing Boing cartoons ("Boing On the Planet Moo" is the my favorite of the three) and The Tell Tale Heart cartoon. All cartoons are in presented in full frame except "Boing on The Planet Moo" which is in 2.35:1 widescreen. The cartoons do have some specks with "How Now Boing Boing" featuring some parts that are almost blurry.

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 Pearlman 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 (with optional director commentary) 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 comparsion 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 develpoped 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 thaat 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 Ancondas: The Hunt For The Blood Orchid, Kaena, and The Forgotten.

MENUS: The interactive menus are impressive. The main menu for the first disc is my favorite of the menus.

FINAL ANALYSIS: HELLBOY is one of the best DVDs of 2004. This DVD is an example of what happens if you gather the right features and have the right DVD Producer (Javier Soto). The abundance of cool special features makes this DVD stand in front of most DVDs released this year. Columbia/Sony even went out of the way to include a $5 rebate offer if you buy the Special Edition and Director's Cut DVDs. I can't wait to see how impressive the Director's Cut DVD (which will include the extended cut with 15 more minutes of character scenes and a third disc of new special features) that will come out in November.  

P.S. I hope Del Toro gets to do a movie adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness (HELLBOY is like a test run).  If you like HELLBOY, watch THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE.

this review (ENTERLINE 3.51) is (c)7-15-2004 David Blackwell. This review cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com  

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