“…the director and writer clearly has much higher ambitions with this second HELLBOY film; ambitions that pay off for the director, who strikes gold with a dazzling visual exhibition of a fantasy action yarn in HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY.”
Rusty Gordon’s FILM REVIEW
Let me preface this review with saying I had seen HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY when it came out in theaters this past summer and until I saw it I was progressively more fascinated by the idea that this was Guillermo del Toro’s follow-up to the gem that is PAN’S LABYRINTH. The imaginative art, which is a staple to any del Toro movie really stood out in parallel to his previous effort and I felt that he indeed curbed critics of his choice to make a second HELLBOY movie. So when I received the 3-DISC SPECIAL EDITION to review, I was elated and immediately got to examining the immense amount of material placed in this small 14mm DVD case.
Like I previously said, the DVD comes with 3-discs packed and upon opening the case you will first notice the digital copy of the film including in a CD sleeve that contains your own personal DVD quality copy of the movie that you may transfer to your mac or pc. I assumed there would be a cavity search and background check to be able to view the digital copy once it was on my computer but it was as simple as putting in an authorization code, an email and a birth date and it was ready to play an unlimited amount of times. This is a great idea and I would not be surprised if more special edition DVDs take on this extra.
The next disc is the one containing the movie and a handful of special features. First off, they doubled up the feature commentary on the movie with one version giving the audience two full seamless hours of witty Guillermo del Toro chatter talking about everything from archetypal symbols in HELLBOY to del Toro’s observations on other superhero movies to political intolerance. On top of that you are also presented another version with commentary by three actors from the movie, Selma Blair, Luke Goss and comic Jeffrey Tambor. Moving onto one of the best scenes in the movie occurs in the meticulous Troll Market in which Hellboy and crew walk around looking for answers. For those who thought the scene was too short (del Toro included) there is a segment on the bonus features that entails an extensive tour presented by del Toro himself as he informs you on the fine details of the Troll Market and even parts of the set that were never incorporated into the film. It is in this bonus feature tat del Toro says what is truthfully an understatement in reference to this DVD, he jokingly explains that “There’s a lot more detail than you’re going to feature in a movie with a plot.” Rounding out this DVD is the mainstay of deleted scenes with commentary and set visits which have little to no commentary but display an out of the ordinary on-set feel for a few isolated scenes from the film. One last piece is a short animated comic the “Zinco Epilogue” which explains a few small minutiae leading up to where the film begins.
The last disc of this trio is the most gratifying for true film fans and you will be hard pressed to find another DVD that offers this much insight to a director’s thoughts; from the beginning of the film and the first meetings with staff to the very last minuscule item of post production. Guillermo del Toro’s vision and prudence on this film is a testament to his incalculable genius and colossal nerditude. The main feature of this bonus disc is titled “Hellboy: In Service of the Demon” and is over 2 hours in length. This segment starts with a conference with del Toro and all of his art directors going over character development from scratch. His absolutely power and executive decision of character design is shown and shows the dramatic influence he has on even the smallest details of the character design and consequently the film. This segment turns out to be more del Toro documentary with the camera following him around every day of preparation, shooting and post production and I imagine it took editors quite a long time to cut this down to within 3 hours. The production part of this piece is the longest and almost literally comprises a behind the camera look scene-by-scene of the film. In comparison to the rest of the bonus features on this DVD this documentary is a pure gold, this is even with a storyboard featurette and a perceptive look into del Toro’s own notebook of doodling and notes for the movie.
I will say it bluntly, if you are a fan of this movie, you must buy the HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY 3-DISC SPECIAL EDITION; it would be in your best interest as a movie fan to explore the inner-thoughts of one of the most celebrated directors of our time earnestly directing his most recent film.