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Hellboy (2004) - 4K Blu-ray Review

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Hellboy (2004)

The first time I heard the name Mike Mignola was after I received a set of his Topps comic adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. As a lifelong comic reader, I’m ashamed to say I’d missed his unique style and most famous creation: Hellboy. To this day, I’ve not read a single issue of that comic. Perhaps, after the train wreck of 2019’s Hellboy, I should finally do that.

"rewards again and again on re-watches. It’s a cult favorite for a reason"


But when horror auteur Guillermo Del Toro decided to make the first cinematic version, and I saw the trailer, I was in. If one of the greatest visualists in modern cinema wanted to tackle this tale, then there was something to it.

BOY WAS THERE!

It starts in WWII where a group of Nazi hunters are zeroing in on one of their occult obsessed divisions. Upon wiping them out, mid-ceremony, they discover a demon child has been summoned through the Nazi’s portal, led by Russian mystic Rasputin (Karel Roden). A kindly member of the good guys (John Hurt) takes pity on the red devil infant, after they wipe the Nazis out, and decides to raise him as his own. Cut to modern day, sixty years later, and Hellboy (Ron Perlman) is still a young man with a voracious appetite, a penchant for cats, and a massive stone hand that he uses to great effect for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. Rasputin is resurrected by his surviving disciples, and hatches a plan to again bring forth Armageddon by unleashing the demon Sammael. Sammael is given the ability to multiply each time he is killed, germinating monstrous creatures into a hellish legion. After some costly losses, Hellboy is forced to grow up and face his worst fear: unleashing the true magnitude of his powers, which was prophesized to end mankind.

It’s such a quirky movie, with a devil, a spontaneously combusting love interest (Selma Blair) and a fish man (Del Toro mainstay Doug Jones) to name but a few. But they are such layered, interesting characters that you empathize with them right away. Perlman by this stage in his career could do heavy make-up and smart ass performance in his sleep. Yet there is a distinct glint in his eyes when playing Hellboy that spoke to his love of the character. Support cast is also strong, and with the likes of John Hurt, elevates this from being just another effects-laden extravaganza.Hellboy (2004)

The effects, it must be said, were largely practical. There are some digital effects, especially toward the latter half of the film, and some of them are showing their vintage, but they are used judiciously and never detract. The inky depths of the cinematography hide the wires well.

I’d like to say this film stormed the box office in 2004, but it didn’t. It just about earned back double its budget. It was obviously enough to get another entry over the line, but it’s not a number indicative of the quality of this film. If you haven’t Hellboy, I urge you to go pick it up. It leaves the piece of shit film from this year in the dust, and rewards again and again on re-watches. It’s a cult favorite for a reason.


4/5 stars

Hellboy (2004)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

15th Anniversary Edition / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD

Home Video Distributor: Sony
Available on Blu-ray
- October 15, 2019
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Audio:
English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1. English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray DiscTwo-disc set
Region Encoding: 4K Blu-ray: Region free; 2K Blu-ray: Region A

Before I break down why, briefly, may I just say: THIS IS HOW YOU DO A 4K ANNIVERSARY RELEASE!!! THANKYOU, SONY!

VIDEO:

WOW! This is reverential treatment. The 4K native scan is a massive step up from the 2007 blu-ray. The clarity of every shot is as sharp as a razor. The contrast is perfection incarnate; really showing off the deep and detailed blacks and leaping off the screen highlights. Hellboy and Sapien’s make-up effects are as rich as Bill Gates, and human characters are given detail they haven’t in previous releases. This is just a stellar presentation in BOTH versions of the 4K film.

AUDIO:

A richly layered powerhouse ATMOS 7.1 track. It differentiates everything: Hellboy’s stone punches, Liz’s flaming hands, Abe’s tank, the destruction of buildings, the fantastical and the mundane—all are immersive and encapsulate what a good set up can achieve at home. This is a flawless and beautiful mix. I can’t see it being any better.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Three Audio Commentaries Featuring Director Guillermo del Toro, Creator Mike Mignola and the Cast

Special Features:

  • Brand new 4K remasters of the director's cut and theatrical version of the film
  • Exclusive Dolby Atmos track for both versions
  • All new: Introduction by Guillermo del Toro
  • All new "To Hell and Back" Retrospective Featurette
  • "The Seeds of Creation" Documentary
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • Remastered theatrical version of the film
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
  • Makeup and Lighting Tests with Commentary
  • VFX How To's
  • A Quick Guide to Understanding Comics with Scott McCloud
  • "Right Hand of Doom" Set Visits and Factoids
  • Q&A Archive: Comic-Con 2002
  • Mike Mignola Pre-Production Art
  • Animatics
  • Board-A-Matics
  • Multi-Angle Storyboard Comparisons
  • TV Spots
  • Photo Galleries

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 5/5 stars
  Extras 5/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4.5/5 stars

Hellboy (2004)

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and frightening images.
Runtime:
122 mins
Director
: Guillermo del Toro
Writer:
Guillermo del Toro
Cast:
Ron Perlman, Doug Jones, Selma Blair
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
Sent to destroy.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Touched you five seconds, laid three eggs."
Theatrical Distributor:
Columbia Pictures
Official Site: https://www.sonypictures.com/movies/hellboy
Release Date:
April 2, 2004
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 15, 2019.
Synopsis: A demon, raised from infancy after being conjured by and rescued from the Nazis, grows up to become a defender against the forces of darkness.

Hellboy (2004)

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