When you have the right director at the helm, one who cares for the source material, you end up with something like Hellboy. This wild, fun, and enormously entertaining action ride from Guillermo Del Toro is a nearly 100% faithful to the comic feature which is its source material. Ron Perlman could not have been cast better as the lead role, as he is perfect inside the make-up.
The special effects are the obvious highlight. Rick Baker is on the special effects team list, so it’s hardly surprising to see how effective the practical make-up effects are. Creature suits are loaded with detail, and when CG is substituted, it’s only slightly jarring. The number of major action scenes is impressive, and the direction is superb.
For non-Hellboy followers, Del Toro and his writers delve out details en masse. Hellboy’s creation, character, and task are clearly laid out. Action never feels substituted for character development, and the film moves along at a solid clip, even with the ten extra minutes in this director’s cut.
Hellboy makes for fine movie material, which doesn’t hurt its success either. It’s a summer movie in comic-book form. This is a natural transition. Hellboy’s cocky, arrogant attitude leads to some wonderful comedic moments, and the low level yet exciting violence makes this wide-reaching comic-book cinema.
Deep black levels permeate this HD transfer, and give the film a sense of depth unseen on DVD. Sharpness is high leading to a wide level of visible details. The Hellboy suit has pores, and you can make them all out. Light grain is noticeable, giving the film a natural tone. The film heavily relies on color saturation, and Blu-ray handles these shifts remarkably well, with no compression issues.
Hellboy’s trademark giant right hand leads to some punishing bass as he slams various objects. Fights are filled with massive room-shaking. Sadly, the rear speakers often seem forgotten. There are moments of ambience, and crumbling debris can be heard moving into the rear speakers. However, it’s not particularly effective and feels drowned out by the front channels. It’s still a nice, solid piece of audio work, but not as great as it could have been.
While there are other extras, there’s only one you truly need. Hellboy – Seeds of Creation is a massive two and a half hour documentary on how the film came together. Split into six parts, a wealth of behind-the-scenes footage is loaded into this thing. It’s exhaustive, and only die-hard Hellboy fans will make it through the entire thing as it’s longer than the movie itself.
Beyond that, Del Toro is active on this disc, providing a commentary for the movie, three deleted scenes, and a 17-minute lighting test for the make-up. Visual Effects How-To’s come in a three pack, running around five minutes on average. Scott McCloud’s Guide to Understanding Comics is a 12-minute piece with the named author discussing the origins of the medium and its highlights.