Hellboy (2019) 4K Ultra HD
Save us Ron Perlman! The new Hellboy is not the reboot you were hoping for. Here's our review!
A demonic creature, who uses his powers for good, hunts down a powerful witch intent on pulling him back to his hellish origins. Stars David Harbour, Ian McShane, Milla Jovovich, Daniel Dae Kim, and Sasha Lane. Directed by Neil Marshall.
Guillermo del Toro’s 2004 big-screen adaptation of Hellboy has earned something more than cult-movie status, the rare film that both fans of the comic book and general audiences liked. The 2008 sequel elevated the fantasy element, even if the characters didn’t exactly move forward.
An attempt at a third film with Perlman languished for years, until the decision was made to reboot the franchise with David Harbour (“Stranger Things”) in the title role.
They should have left well enough alone.
Although Harbour himself is excellent as Hellboy, director Neil Marshall’s take on the comic book is a gory, overdone mess with a big budget and little vision. It’s a frustrating watch, because the film has the elements of a good film. When it has to deliver on its promise, however, it derails.
The film starts off strong, including a fantastic flashback sequence set in World War II and a battle with a trio of giants in the British countryside. As the plot thickens, involving the resurrection of the Blood Queen Nimue and the apocalypse, the momentum begins to falter and the film loses its way.
The script by Andrew Cosby lacks wit and any semblance of charm, and is needlessly boorish and unnecessarily violent. I’ve never had a problem with violence or gore in a film, and a truly authentic Hellboy adaptation needs it. In this case, however, it is delivered with a heavy hand as an uninspired means to establish a dark tone.
The violence and grotesque visuals would have been better received had the script managed to conjure some proper pacing and a coherent narrative. Instead, the film feels like a series of vile anecdotes, and the relentless violence relishes in nothing more than being offensive. With dead children and various dismemberments (with bad CGI to boot) dropping at a relentless pace, the visuals lose their shock value rather quickly. The violence, minus any meaning or purpose, becomes practically boring.
The single-minded journey through the surreal depths of the supernatural should have been riveting, but the film lacks the finesse to conjure an emotional connection. While Harbour injects Hellboy with a heavy dose of sarcasm and nihilism, he also isn’t particularly likable. That’s too bad, because Harbour is a good actor, and he could have done so much more with Hellboy. Even with the layers of latex and silicone covering his face, he delivers a solid performance.
The supporting cast, which boasts Ian McShane, Milla Jovovich, and Daniel Dae Kim, should have been oh-so-fun. I particularly wanted to see McShane chew up the scenery as Professor Broom. Instead, he and the rest of the cast play second fiddle to the mayhem, and like the film as a whole, it’s a real disappointment.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
According to IMDB, Hellboy was shot digitally at 3.4K and mastered at 4K, and the results are spectacular. The 4K transfer quality is among the best I’ve seen in the format this year. It’s nothing short of stunning, and the detail is outstanding throughout.
The well-rendered HDR ensures the color palette runs the spectrum, from garish colors to deep blacks, and not once did the transfer fail to deliver. Reds pop when called for, and shadowy scenes in darkened passages show impressive detail and distinction between grays and inky blacks. The 4K image even exposes some sub-par CGI at times, but for the most part, the visual effects look fantastic. Even though I found the movie to be a bit of a letdown, the video did not disappoint.
I should note that I did find myself having to adjust my television settings initially, something I never need to do when watching 4K discs. The image overall was too dark, and since much of the film is in low light, it was an obvious problem. With some minor adjusting, the brightness and colors were corrected, and the quality of the video was made apparent. My setup does not support Dolby Vision currently (which the disc offers, to its credit), and I’ve seen no other reports of this issue with the image being too dark, so I believe the situation was unique to my setup.
The Dolby Atmos soundtrack was top-shelf, delivering an encompassing auditory experience. The low end was deep and satisfying, and the clarity was excellent throughout, with nicely-distributed channel separation.
The bonus features aren’t numerous, but you do get a nice three-part documentary, which gives you all of the insight you could want on the making of the film. An audio commentary would have been nice, but the director, cast and crew all participate in the documentary, so behind-the-scenes junkies still get their fix. All the special features are in HD, not 4K.
The special features are as follows.
“Tales of the Wild Hunt: Hellboy Reborn” documentary. This three-part documentary is broken into three segments, and offer up lots of behind-the-scenes looks and on-set footage. Interviews with all the key members of the cast and crew are also provided.
The segments of the documentary are:
“The Forever Warriors: Story and Characters.” David Harbour, Daniel Dae Kim, Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, and other members of the cast and crew discuss the approach to the characters and the plot, which features elements from several Hellboy stories. Running Time: 25:35.
“Ye Gods and Devils: Creatures and Gear.” The crew of Hellboy discusses how they created the creatures that populate the world, with a strong focus on makeup and costumes, as well as props. Running Time: 26:44.
“Rise of the Blood Queen: Production.” This documentary segment features a comprehensive look at the on-set filming, with lots of looks behind-the-scenes. Running Time: 19:33.
Deleted Scenes. Three deleted/extended scenes are included, with an extended version of the film’s opening as the highlight of the trio. The scenes included are “Full Pendle Hill Opening,” “Shower Scene,” and “Blood Queen and Gru in Parking Lot.” Total Running Time: 7:56.
Previsualization. Three key action sequences from the film are featured, each in its rough 3D animation form that the filmmakers used to plot out each scene. Sequences included are “Giant Fight,” “Gru vs. Hellboy,” and “London Apocalypse.” Total Running Time: 7:18.
Digital Copy. A code for a digital copy of the film, redeemable through services including VUDU and FandangoNow, is included. We recommend confirming to ensure your code will redeem a 4K version of the film with your preferred provider before using it. Lionsgate 4K codes often redeem in HD initially, with the 4K UHD version available sometime later.
4K DISC SPECS
Release Date: July 23, 2019
Running Time: 121 minutes
Rating: R (Strong bloody violence and gore throughout, language)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audio
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Special Features: “Tales of the Wild Hunt: Hellboy Reborn” documentary; Three Deleted Scenes; Three Previsualization Sequences; Digital Copy.