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STUDIO: Universal Studios
MSRP: $17.99
RATED: PG
RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
Commentary with director Guillermo Del Toro
Commentary with actors Jeffrey Tambor, Selma Blair, Luke Goss
Set Visits:
     • The Chamberlain
     • Wink vs. Abe
     • Hellboy vs. Wink
     • The Elemental Egg
     • Big Baby
     • “H” is for Hotel
     • Disintegrating Royalty
Troll Market Tour with Guillermo Del Toro
• Zinco Epilogue Animated Comic
Deleted scenes
Hellboy: In Service to the Demon documentary
Prologue to Disc 2 Special Features by Guillermo Del Toro
• Production Workshop: Professor Broom’s Puppet Theatre with optional introduction by Guillermo Del Toro
• Pre-Production Vault:
     • Director’s Notebook
     • Gallery
• Marketing Campaign:
     •  Print gallery
     •  Poster Explorations
• Printable theatrical script
• Digital copy of the movie


The Pitch

Believe it or not, he’s the good guy.

The Humans

Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Luke Goss, Anna Walton, James Dodd, Jeffrey Tambor, John Alexander.



I don’t know about you guys, but I think Iggy Pop has never looked better…



The Nutshell

Hellboy (Perlman), Liz (Blair), Abe (Jones) and the rest of the BPRD have to stop the vengeful Prince Nuada (Goss) of the elf world from gaining the three pieces of a crown that controls the Golden Army – a mechanized force of indestructible warriors – and using them to destroy the human world.

The Lowdown

Hellboy II is just about the perfect melding of Guillermo Del Toro’s two types of latest movies so far: mixing the fantastical production and character design of Pan’s Labyrinth with the action of the original Hellboy and Blade II.  All of the elements that worked in the first movie have been brought back and amped up with a much bigger world in which our heroes can interact.  This go round, the actors, particularly Jones and Blair, but as well as Big Red himself, have a little more room to breathe and explore their characters, and the film even takes a moment or two to just let them be, which is nice.



Tati’s grade school photos were…well let’s just say it…disturbing…



The story itself is really quite a bit more straightforward than the previous film.  Nuada wants to destroy the human world, he needs the pieces of the Golden Army Crown,
he whacks a few people (okay a lot of people) to get them, Hellboy and crew get wind of it, track some clues, and have to stop him.  However, the plot here is almost incidental.  Hellboy II is an exploration, of the characters and the unbelievable world that dwells just beneath our own that’s been forgotten.  Abe is the real beneficiary this go-round, both the character and actor Doug Jones, who doesn’t have to be dubbed by David Hyde Pierce this time.  His emerging affection for Nuada’s twin sister, Nuala (Anna Walton) and his friendship with Red and Liz buoy the middle of this film.  There’s a great yet poignant scene where Del Toro gives him and Red the time to just sit, talk about women, have a brew and listen to Manilow.  Classic.  Jones is a victim of his own versatility by having to portray not only Abe, but also the Chamberlain of the elf world and the Angel of Death.



“Hey, Liz, you think I could go get some marshmallows and you could do that thing…you know…down there…”



Perlman gets to prove yet again that he’s the best actor working in make-up since Lon Chaney.  He gets to have even more fun with Hellboy than the previous movie, no longer content to accept his place in the world as a government secret.  He’s even more obnoxious, more stubborn and more rambunctious.  Far too often Perlman is relegated to supporting or utility characters, and while he’s always excellent regardless, Hellboy gives him the arena to really cut loose and show both his comedic and action chops.  And he gets a lot of opportunity to do so here.  It may be his best character in a truly amazing career. 





Selma Blair also gets to have a lot more quality screen time this go-round.  Liz’s interactions with Hellboy, particularly the bickering, are the emotional heart of the film.  The fact that she can also burn a motherhumper into ash is also a turn-on.  As for Luke Goss, he should just look to work with Del Toro exclusively, because he’s gotten good performances out of Goss as both Nuada ad Nomak in Blade II.  Not sure exactly how much of the physical work Goss was putting in here, but it looked like most of it.  He’s an amazing physical performer and once again under Del Toro portrays the prodigal son looking to get what he feels is due him.  He has some incredible fight scenes, including a couple with Hellboy, that are wire-fu-tastic without looking like the same old tired shit.



Hellboy: “Okay, let me get this straight…you’re saying this reactor makes oxygen for the entire planet?  Kooky….”



However, the singularly most impressive attributes of Hellboy II are the production and creature design.  Set pieces such as the Troll Market seem to go on forever with what can only be described as a menagerie of unusual creatures.  It’s like Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and ILM exploded into something wondrous.  This film is littered with amazing designs: the Tooth Fairies, Wink, the Angel of Death, the Forest Elemental, the Golden Army themselves and way too many more to mention.  The production design, especially the ending set of the Golden Army’s resting chamber is simply phenomenal.  Johann Krauss was also a great design, voiced by Seth MacFarlane of all people.



Originally the MPAA was considering doling out an NC-17 to this flick, but were…persuaded otherwise…



Of course, at the center of everything is Del Toro himself.  The man has a singularly unique vision and can direct action scenes just about as well as anybody.  I’ve worn out my Blade II disc watching his fight scenes.  I have no doubt that his take on The Hobbit is going to be at least as good as the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  Hellboy II: The Golden Army is an excellent film made by an amazing director.

The Package


This 3-Disc offering is loaded, man.  Loaded. 



Liz: “Uh, no, sorry, I haven’t seen your sunglasses…But I’ll…um…keep an eye out for them…”



Disc 1:

First off, the film is gorgeous, as is the transfer in Anamorphic 1.85:1.  Del Toro certainly knows how to fill up a screen.  Audio is also suitably fine in English, Spanish and French Dolby 5.1.  There’s also a Descriptive Video Service (DVS) track that is interesting to listen to.  There are also English Spanish and French subtitles.  The makers of this disc didn’t skimp on anything.  The menus are even of the animated variety, which just makes the disc that much more fun to use.



Say what you want, but nobody adds class to a flick like Judi Dench…



There are two commentaries, one by Del Toro and another by actors Jeffrey Tambor, Selma Blair and Luke Goss.  Really would have liked to have heard Perlman, but he was probably off in make-up somewhere on another movie.  The Set Visits feature are behind-the-scenes jaunts to various scenes, including The Chamberlain, Wink vs. Abe, Hellboy vs. Wink, The Elemental Egg, Big Baby, “H” is for Hotel, and Disintegrating Royalty.  Each of these runs typically around three minutes.  The Troll Market Tour with Guillermo Del Toro runs about 12 minutes.  He took his lunch break to do it, so make sure you show him a little appreciation if you get the chance.  The Zinco Epilogue Animated Comic is a five-minute wrap-up to the original movie involving a character (I’m assuming from the comics?) named Zinco who gathers up Karl Kroenen for Rasputin.  Sure there’s probably more to this either in the comics or online.  There’s also five minutes of deleted scenes.



Nice to see Shuma-Gorath is still getting a gig here and there…



Disc 2:

I love that Del Toro was so involved in almost every aspect of masking this disc.  He even takes the time to do a prologue for the Disc 2 special features.  The first and main feature is the Hellboy: In Service to the Demon documentary.  This is a massive, 2.5 hour documentary that features input from damn near everyone who worked on the movie.  Everything from production design, to creature design, the pre-production through post production, working with the actors, testimonials from cast and crew, everything that a good making-of typically has, times about 10.  One of, if not the most, thorough and comprehensive production docs I’ve ever seen on a DVD.  It’s offered in two formats: chapters, and the whole thing with much more extra footage.



Needless to say, the initial test footage for I, Robot needed a little bit of work…



The Production Workshop: Professor Broom’s Puppet Theatre with optional introduction by Guillermo Del Toro is a three-minute storyboard comparison of the scene where Professor Broom tells the story of the Golden Army to a young Hellboy.  Pre-Production Vault includes two features: the Director’s Notebook and a Photo Gallery.  The Notebook is a visual recreation of the reference material Del Toro had with him on set, with optional branching featurettes on some of the material.  The photo gallery has production art on several areas: Creature Design, Mike Mignola’s original artwork, Production Design and also Production Still photos.  The Marketing Campaign has tons of print photos and one sheet photos.  There’s also a DVD-ROM version of the script.



“Oh yeah, Nuada?  You and what army?”
“Uh, Red…”



Disc 3 is a digital copy of the movie.  There’s enough material here to keep you going until Del Toro’s next Hellboy movie comes out.  Really, this is how DVDs should be done; there’s a lot for either the casual fan or the die hard fan.  Del Toro’s involvement was massive, including several intros to the special features, as well as his copious input to the behind-the-scenes stuff.  This is simply an excellent DVD.


 

9.7 out of 10