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Hellboy - the Director's Cut

Hellboy - the Director's Cut - on DVD

If movies were named appropriately, Hellboy would have been called Heckboy.

It’s a good, well-made movie, but it’s not quite as badass as it would have you believe.

The three-disc Director's Cut features an extra 12 minutes of footage and a bonus disc of extras. The audio and video of the movie itself appear to be the same as on the previous version, with the new scenes brought into the mix flawlessly.

The 12 extra minutes include some more character development with Myers (Rupert Evans) and Liz (Selma Blair), a few seconds here and there of random stuff, and plenty more fun with Rasputin. The Rasputin character is filled-out a little more here, and comes across as more of a tortured soul than just a typical bad guy. Even though we were often unsure of whether or not a scene was new or old, we found the Director’s Cut to be a better film than the original. It felt more complete, with fewer unanswered questions.

During World War II, Rasputin (yeah, the Russian dude), working with the Nazis, opened a portal to a very nasty place. During the time the portal was open, “something” came through. That something turns out to be Hellboy (Ron Perlman), the spawn of the dark lord, whose destiny is to bring about the Apocalypse.

Fortunately, before the bad guys can get to him, he’s discovered and then raised by Professor Broom (John Hurt), one of the bigwigs in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. This takes the evil edge off him and makes him as much of a "real boy" as you could hope for considering who and what he really is.

Years later, as Hellboy sightings continue, Rasputin (Karel Roden) returns for another crack at Apocalyptic-style hellraising. Hellboy’s all grown up now and has a bit of an attitude problem, but he’s the only one who can take care of all the wacky stuff that’s going on. He works together with Abe Sapien (voiced by David Hyde Pierce), a fish man with some wicked ESP, Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), a pyrokinetic, and John Myers (Rupert Evans), his new "nanny."

Before they battle Rasputin, they must fight Kroenen and the hounds of resurrection and save the helpless kittens from almost certain doom.

The movie is pretty good, but you can’t deny the fact that you’d expect a lot more out of a character named Hellboy. Sure he’s tough, and he’s got an arm made out of concrete, but he doesn’t have nearly the kind of power a boy from hell should. His battles generally consist of him getting thrown around a lot, but doing something at the last second that takes care of the bad guy.

Even the action scenes are sub par. The only really cool parts are also in the trailer, in which he punches an SUV and it flips several times before landing behind him, and he says the words “how big could it be?” as a huge tentacle grabs him and pulls him away. Other than that, everything is pretty standard.

It’s still kind of fun though, due to the extreme comic-style story and characters.

One might say that the idea of Rasputin working with the Nazis to open a portal that will bring about the Apocalypse is rather absurd, not to mention the fact that he gets resurrected from a pool of blood and there’s a dude full of sand with no lips or eyelids. But, if you’re willing to accept it for what it is and just have a good time, it’s a pretty good little "super hero" flick.

The movie barely made back more that it cost, but despite that Hellboy still gets the best special edition to come from Columbia Tristar in many moons. Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the picture quality is outstanding, with rich and brilliant colors and no grain. There are plenty of dark bits, but you never have trouble making out the smallest details. The movie looks great, and the DVD makes it look even better.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is a bit disappointing. There’s too much bass, and the surrounds don’t do much at all. Even though there’s plenty of action, the rear speakers seem turned down to about a tenth the volume of the front channels.

At least the separation in the front speakers is done well enough that there are no other complaints.

Disc two is identical to disc two in the two-disc version, and disc one is the same with the exception of a new audio commentary by director/screenwriter Guillermo Del Toro. He’s not the most engaging speaker, but there’s no doubt he loves Hellboy (the comic and the movie) and is very pleased with the end result.

Disc one starts off with a 25 second introduction by screenwriter/director Guillermo Del Toro, in which he tells us what’s on disc one. He also teams up with Mike Mignola, the creator of the comic book, for an audio commentary. The two discuss the origins of the character, differences between the two media, casting, special effects, and all that jazz.

The second audio commentary features Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Jeffrey Tambor and Rupert Evans, in which they talk about everything related and non-related to the movie. Disc one also features some branching DVD comics drawn by Mike Mignola, some “Right Hand of Doom” set visits, a storyboard track and some Gerald McBoing Boing animated shorts.

Disc two begins with an equally short introduction by Selma Blair, who seems like she’d rather be anywhere else. “Hellboy: The Seeds of Creation” is a 2 ½ hour making-of documentary that’s almost better than the movie. There’s not a single aspect of production (pre, post, or otherwise) you won’t find covered here, and it’s great for aspiring filmmakers.

There are a few deleted scenes with optional commentary by Del Toro. They total about seven minutes, with varying results. Del Toro also wrote some character bios for the disc, and rounding things out are some animatics, storyboard comparisons, 3-D sculptures video gallery, poster explorations, and trailers.

Disc three begins with a 25-second introduction by Ron Perlman, in which he briefly goes through what’s on the disc. There is a cast video commentary that includes Perlman, Blair, Evans, and Jeffrey Tambor, and it's fun but forgettable. Twenty minutes of production workshops are included, which focus on makeup, lighting techniques, and special effects. Probably the best extra is the 23-minute Q & A with Del Toro, Perlman, and creator Mike Mignola at the 2002 ComicCon. It took place before shooting of the film began, so it’s just a heartfelt chat with the principal players in which they discuss their plans for bringing the comic to the big screen. Finally, there’s a Quick Guide to Understanding Comics with Scott McCloud, a director’s notebook, photo galleries, art galleries, and some trailers.

If you don’t already own Hellboy, this is the version to buy. The extra footage makes for a better movie than the theatrical version, but the bonus disc doesn’t feature anything too exciting.

Hellboy: Director’s Cut, from Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
132 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Jeffrey Tambor, Karel Roden, Rupert Evans and John Hurt
Produced by Lawrence Gordon, Mike Richardson, Lloyd Levin
Screenplay by Guillermo Del Toro, Directed by Guillermo Del Toro


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