Wednesday, 16 February 2005

Hellboy

This weekend I watched the Hellboy 2 Disc Special Edition DVD. I have been a fan of the Hellboy comics ever since they were first published over 10 years ago. Naturally, when the movie came out last year, I had to see it in the theatre. And, of course, I had to get the DVD.

Quite frankly, in my humble opinion Hellboy is the best superhero movie besides Spider-Man II. In many respects it is loyal to the origin of Hellboy as told in the first graphic novel. In other ways, of course, the movie departs from the comic books. No romance exists in the comic books between Hellboy and Liz Sherman as portrayed in the movie. Professor Broom gets a lot more screen time in the movie than he did pages in the grahpic novel. Regardless, the movie is very loyal to the spirit of Hellboy. And it is very well done as well.

Like the Spider-Man movies, the emphasis in Hellboy is on the characters. A good deal of time is devoted to Hellboy's relationship with his adopted father, Professor Broom, as well as Hellboy's relationship with Liz. In fact, the movie is probably less about a demon fighting evil than it is about a young man (well, young for Hellboy--in human terms he is over 60 years old...) growing into manhood. The script focuses primarily on the characters, as opposed to the action and strange goings on, and the performances of the cast are top notch. As Professor Broom and Hellboy respectively, John Hurt and Ron Perlman do some of their best work in this movie.

That is not to say that Hellboy is simply a character study. There is plenty of action in this movie, with fight scenes that look like they could have been torn straight from Mike Mignola's comics. In fact, where action scenes are concerned, they might be the best superheroics on screen since Superman II. Hellboy's fight with Samael in a subway is particularly amazing, with walls being busted and offices falling apart. What makes the action scenes more amazing is that it is hard to tell where ordinary wire work ends and CGI begins. In fact, I was amazed while watching the "making of..." documentary to learn that many of the scenes I had thought must be CGI were done with old fashioned wire work...

When buying the DVD I would have been happy with just the movie (in wide screen, of course) and a few extras, but they have almost overloaded the two discs with extras. There is the two and a half hour "making of..." documentary that goes well beyond the typical documentary on the creation of a movie. There are two separate audio commentary tracks, one with director Guillermo del Toro and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and the other with the cast (Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Jeffrey Tabor, and Rupert Evans). There are there delted scenes, Motion Board-a-matics, Animatics, DVD Comics, a Multi-Angle storyboard comparison, the trailers and TV spots, and much, much more. Thre are even four classic UPA cartoons (three of which featuring Gerald McBoing Boing). This is one of the best DVD sets I've ever seen.

Anyhow, if you have not seen Hellboy, I urge you by all means to do so. And the Special Edition is a must for any Hellboy fan.

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