DVD: Hellboy II: The Golden Army


Theatrical Release Date: 07/11/2008
DVD Release Date: 11/11/2008
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Jeffrey Tambor, John Hurt

The Film:


It’s too bad comic books don’t always get directors as passionate and respectful of the source material as Guillermo Del Toro is of “Hellboy”. While I found the film to be a bit blah and in need of some cast/script changes – I never read the comics. However, I give Del Toro full credit for creating a lush and detailed world in which the titular hero helps to protect us mere mortals from the creepies and crawlies that go bump in the night.

In the second installment of the franchise, “Hellboy II: The Golden Army”, a power-seeking elf arises to take back the world that was once theirs and it’s up to Hellboy and his team to stop that from happening.

The creature and production design is top notch, consistent with Del Toro’s much lauded, “Pan’s Labyrinth“. The special effects work well, especially when combined with many of the practical stunts and camera trickery that Del Toro will probably put to great use on the upcoming “Hobbit” films.

Still, I was overly annoyed by the inclusion of new team member Johann Krauss, whose voice was done by the very funny Seth MacFarlane … of course, that meant that all I could hear was a German Stewie and it felt out of place.

The entire film actually, felt out of place for me, as Del Toro attempted to balance the darker fantasy tones with glib comedy. I know that this worked for many people, especially fans of Del Toro’s previous works … it’s just one of those things where I recognize his immense talent but aren’t in sync with the end result (though I enjoyed the first film well enough).

All of that being said, I’d look forward to a third film in the series to see where the characters go from here … I just wouldn’t have my hoped up. For more on the film itself, you can check out my full review here.

The DVD:



While I may have not enjoyed the finished film personally, I do think that Del Toro and the production team put together a fantastic DVD to give to fans. Even though the 3-disc special edition DVD (one disc is the new-fangled digital copy for your computer/iPod/gizmo) doesn’t include a cast commentary or a gag reel (two of my favorite features), anyone looking to explore the making of the film and get Del Toro’s take on the franchise will be jumping for joy once they pop the discs into their player.

Audio/Video:

Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Anamorphic Widescreen 1:85:1.

Subtitles:

English (for the hard of hearing); Spanish; French.

Languages:

English; Spanish; French.

Extra Features:



Commentary with director Guillermo Del Toro

—– Del Toro is clearly passionate about this project and it comes through in the commentary. Sadly though, this really is a feature that only fans would enjoy … which leaves me out. His efforts are still appreciated, though.

Deleted Scenes

—– There are only a few scenes included here and it’s pretty easy to see why they were cut. Even though bits of them are entertaining, good directors and editors know that the story must be served first, so trimming off some ancillary fat is sometimes necessary.

Hellboy II: In Service of the Demon

—– This is the meat and potatoes of the extra features. Over two hours of mini-featurettes discussing various aspects of the film are included. Each is insightful and show the amount of detail and work involved in creating such an elaborate fantasy world. This is the must see feature of the DVD.

Director’s Notebook

—– Here, each page of Del Toro’s notebook regarding the film has been digitized for fans to read. The nice touch was including video segments within the pages to click on and get more detail about certain aspects of the creatures, characters, or set designs.

Production Workshop Puppet Theatre

—– Easily my favorite portion of the film is the introduction, where puppets are used to tell the tale of the Earth before the reign of man. While it was a budgetary decision to go this route, Del Toro and team created a truly fascinating story-telling device to get the film going. This featurette doesn’t do much for me as it just shows the footage alongside the storyboard drawings, but at least it allowed me to give the film its due props for this element since I’m generally down on the rest of it.

Troll Market Tour

—– Del Toro takes viewers on a tour of the Troll Market, a key setting in the film. The level of detail to the inhabitants and the market itself is staggering. Just setting this up is an undertaking and a half – that it’s only used for a few scenes (as key as they may be) is sort of a shame. The world within this market is vast enough to have made an entire film if the film’s focus would have called for it.

Image Galleries

—– Still images of the posters and promotional materials for the film. Even though I’m not a big fan of the film, some of the posters (especially the international ones) are so cool that I’d be happy to display them at home.

The Sobering Conclusion:


I think I’ve made my feelings towards the film clear. A script rewrite might have turned me 180 degrees on it but as a whole, I found it all too unbalanced and would have preferred a dark fairy tale of sorts; as opposed to the dark and glib mish-mash that made it to movie theaters.

However, fans of film-making, Guillermo Del Toro, or this film in particular, will truly enjoy the DVD. It’s loaded with extras that will bring viewers behind the camera and provides exactly the kind of bonus content that should be available on every DVD. It helps that Del Toro’s passion for the project drove him to include all of the extras; sadly, too many filmmakers aren’t so inclined.

If you liked the film, this is an easy recommendation to buy the DVD and for people who enjoyed the first film but missed this one in theaters, I recommend giving it a rent. Even if you fall on my side of the fence, the extra materials are interesting enough to make waiting for “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” to land on a pay channel a little naive. Seeing Del Toro create the project is a intriguing experience for any film lover – regardless of how you feel about the end product.