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HELLBOY II:
THE GOLDEN ARMY

HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY ($40) is definitely a different beastie from director Guillermo del Toro’s first film adaptation of the Dark Horse comic book created Mike Mignola- a rather splendid one too, if I might add. I don’t know if it’s the influence of del Toro’s wondrous PAN’S LABYRINTH, but HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY has a fairy tale like quality that wasn’t present in the first film. The first HELLBOY movie was character driven, but rooted in action oriented comic book adaptation ethic, while HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY is much more a fantasy film, with a prevailing sense of wonder. Of course, I don’t want to give the impression that HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY is such a radical departure from the first film, that the two movies wouldn’t be recognized as different chapters of the same story. While the vibe between the two films is decidedly different, the excellent cast of characters certainly cement the two films together, especially actor Ron Perlman, who was born to play the part of Hellboy on the screen. Even without the red latex and horns, Perlman resembles the character, but once suited up he is undeniably our cigar smoking, sarcasm spewing hero- Hellboy.

HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY opens on Christmas Eve 1955, where the young Hellboy nervously awaits the arrival of Santa Claus. To get Hellboy off to sleep, his adoptive father Professor Trevor Bruttenholm (John Hurt) tells him the story of an ancient battle between humans and mythical creatures of the world. In the story, a goblin blacksmith is said to have built an unstoppable golden army of clockwork soldiers for the King of the Elves, which decimates humanity. The story ends with the Elf King striking a truce with the humans and locking away golden clockwork army forever. Flash-forward to the present, self-exiled Elf Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) decides the time has decided to break his father’s truce with humanity, and begins gathering the three pieces of the golden crown that can reawaken and control the golden army.

Meanwhile at the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, things are stormy to say the very least. Hellboy’s relationship with girlfriend Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) has hit a rocky patch, while director Tom Manning (Jeffrey Tambor) continues his seemingly futile efforts to keep Hellboy’s existence under wraps. When a secret BPRD mission falls under media scrutiny, Washington assigns the very by-the-book ectoplasmic agent Johann Krauss to oversee operations in the Trenton, New Jersey office. Eventually, Prince Nuada’s activities attract the attention of the BPRD, which leads to an unlikely relationship between Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and Princess Nuala (Anna Walton), who has been hiding the final piece of the golden crown from her twin brother. However, an unfortunate encounter between Hellboy and Prince Nuada leads the key members of the BPRD Team on a desperate search for the whereabouts of the golden army… before they can be reanimated. The cast of HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY also features Roy Dotrice, James Dodd, John Alexander and the vocal talents of Seth MacFarlane.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. I expected HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY to sport a phenomenally good, demonstration worthy 1080p presentation- I was not disappointed. HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY looks stunning on Blu-ray, image sharpness, depth, dimensionality and fine detail are all truly excellent. CGI is flawlessly integrated with the live action sequences and reproduced with excellent resolution. Color fidelity also takes top honors, with the hues appearing fully saturated, with absolute stability and true to life flesh tones. Warm tones like reds and golds are exquisitely rendered throughout the course of the film. Blacks are totally inky, whites are pure, plus the picture produces wonderfully smooth contrast and terrific shadow detail. The elements from which HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY have been mastered are free from flaws. There is a light veneer of grain within the image, which maintains the organic quality of the presentation.

HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This is a first rate soundtrack that delivers the goods- it’s enveloping, highly directional and completely powerful. HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY has an aggressively mixed sound design for the action packed moments, but the sound is also highly atmospheric and subtle, when it needs to be. All the outlying channels are well utilized for sound effects placement, plus sound design provides a really nice spread to the film’s music. Speaking of music, Danny Elfman’s score is truly beautiful and is completely musical, thanks to the lossless encoding. The bass channel, is percussive and ground shaking. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as solid body of supplements, which has been spread across two discs. Starting things off are two running Audio Commentaries; the first is densely detailed and features director Guillermo del Toro, the second track is with actors Jeffrey Tambor, Selma Blair and Luke Goss. Other supplements include Troll Market Tour With Guillermo del Toro (twelve minutes), Animated Zinco Epilogue Comic (five minutes), Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary By Director Guillermo del Toro and a Comic Book Builder (make your own Hellboy comic book).

Universal's U-Control interface is utilized for an interactive version of the movie that provides in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements in relation to individual moments or sequences in the film (requires a Profile 1.1 player). Concept Art Gallery, Director’s Notebook and Set Visits are amongst the items accessible via the U-Control interface. HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

Moving onto disc two, which is a DVD, one will find the remaining supplements. Disc two’s primary supplement is the two and a half hour making of documentary Hellboy: In Service Of The Demon. Also on the second disc, one will find a Digital Copy of the film, as well as a Director Introduction and some Marketing Materials.

Director Guillermo del Toro is truly one of the cinema’s true visionaries. HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY is a surprisingly visionary fantasy film with a fairy tale flavor that has this reviewer hoping we will see a third installment in the Hellboy franchise. The Blu-ray presentation is cause to celebrate- as is the release of any del Toro movie in high definition. Highly recommended.

 

HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY 


Hellboy II: The Golden Army [Blu-ray] (2008)

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DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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