Hellboy DVD Review
PictureDespite the fact this is a two disc set with disc two containing the bulk of the extras, disc one still has its fair share of value added material. It is therefore a pleasure to note that disc space has not been scrimped on the main feature. The luxuriant colour palettes of Hellboy are beautifully reproduced. Sparkling primary colours pop out of the monochromatic backgrounds with startling effect. The darkened corners of the gothic sets hold detail like a sponge holds water, and this reviewer could find no evidence of digital artefacts no matter how hard I tried. As an example watch the first encounter Agent Myers has with Hellboy. Hellboy hangs around in the dark corners of his den, illuminated by the light cast from his cigar and in deep shadow. The scene is inside the BPRD and so steel greys are the order of the day until big red steps into the light and then BAM colour punches out of the screen, but without a hint of bleed or loss of definition. A mark is lost for some noticeable grain in the very darkest of scenes. A praiseworthy disc indeed.
SoundWhile not quite as impressive as the picture quality the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is just a heartbeat behind. Encoded at 448kbps and with a +2dB push to the dialogue channel, the balance of the track is excellent, but just a little bass heavy at times, allowing vocals to sometimes be swamped. Split surround effects are plentiful, from the opening windswept thunderstorm, to the echoing chase sequences in the dank tunnels of the city sewers. Spot and Foley effects are precisely placed and provide wonderful breadth and depth to the front soundstage. A great disc with some scenes of demonstration quality. Try chapter 14 in the underwater chamber, or chapter 22 in the Moscow catacombs.
ExtrasThis disc is as loaded as Jordan's bra when it comes to extras, almost pushing the LOTR discs off the number one slot. There are two superb commentaries on disc one. The first is the creative force behind the project with Del Toro and Mignola discussing the whole production from creative process to technical facts. They chat and banter like two long lost friends, and this project was clearly a marriage made in heaven for them both. The mutual respect they have for each other's work goes a long way to explaining the success of the movie. Even better though is the second commentary by the actors including Ron Pearlman, Selma Blair and Rupert Evans. This is a very chatty convivial track with the actors clearly enjoying each other's company. Ron Pearlman is hilarious and winds up the others constantly about his level of involvement in the stunts that were performed. Disc one contains two features similar to the white rabbit feature in the Matrix DVD. You can select branching features to either DVD comics that explain a little about each characters back-story, or on set, behind the scene visits. I have always found these types of features intrusive to the flow of the movie, but thankfully you can watch all of them separately. Also present on disc one are some of the Dr Seuss cartoons showing on the screens in Hellboy's den, and a printable DVD-ROM original screenplay.
Disc two contains a fabulous behind the scenes documentary that is over two and a half hours in length and covers every aspect of the process in a depth rarely seen on DVD. It is a wonderful insight, and worth every minute invested in watching it. We also get deleted scenes with directors commentary, the character bios written by Del Toro to give the actors some background for their characters, storyboards, script to screen comparisons, trailer, poster campaigns, trailers to six movies and the forthcoming Seinfeld DVD. It took me close on 10 hours to “complete” these discs, and I still get the feeling that if I took another look I would find something I missed the first time round. Formidable extras and not a duff amongst them.
VerdictFor fans of the genre, or for committed DVD collectors this two disc set is a very special affair indeed. You may therefore be surprised that I would urge you not to buy this disc. Why, because it is well documented that this is not the definitive collectors edition. Indeed at several points on these exhaustive discs Del Toro tells us that he is busy adding in over 50 minutes of extra footage, and preparing more extras for a 3 disc effort which should be out before Christmas. If it was my money I would be reaching for my credit card and pre-ordering that version. In fact I think that's just what I will do. Bye bye,
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £29.98