• Hellboy (Lionsgate) 4k UHD/Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Lionsgate
    Released on: July 23rd, 2019.
    Director: Neil Marshall
    Cast: David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Daniel Dae Kim, Sasha Lane
    Year: 2019
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    Hellboy – Movie Review:

    Neil Marshall’s 2019 Hellboy replaces Ron Perlman with David Harbour (he of Stranger Things fame) in the titular lead role. Before the opening credits hit, we see a scene from centuries ago where Nimue (Milla Jovavich), the Blood Queen, was cut into tiny pieces by some knights. Those pieces, included he head, where hidden in different locations around Europe to keep her from ever coming back.

    From there, the film opens with a scene in Mexico where Hellboy has been sent to bring back bring back a fellow agent who, it turns out, has been turned. A fight ensues, the agent winds up dead – staked on the pole of a wrestling ring – and Hellboy heads back to home base to hang out with his ‘dad,’ Professor Broom (Ian McShane). From there, Hellboy winds up heading to the UK where he meets up with a group of occult experts out to do away with some giants causing problems in the area. Hellboy learns of his origins through this group and then gets all sad about it – you know, Nazi’s and infanticide stuff, it’s fair to be sad about that. When it turns out he’s been set up it launches into a really messy story wherein some folks are trying to bring Nimue back from the dead and Hellboy has to fight what the Blood Queen tells him is his destiny… which seems to involve bringing about the apocalypse or something. Along the way he befriends a psychic named Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane) and a cranky cop named Major Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim).

    This movie is a fucking mess. There are good ideas at play, interesting ones, but they’re never executed properly. The film is way, way, wayyyyy to reliant on CGI to bring its various creations to life – which is understandable given that there’s some impressive scope to the production design – and as such, it never feels real in the tangible sense of the word but rather like a series of cut scenes from a video game. The plot is a mess, it is, tonally, all over the damn place, and sadly it just never comes together the way that it should.

    Wasted potential, thy name is Hellboy.

    Marshall and company do get points for really diving deep into some of Mike Mignola’s comic book source material and it’s neat to see some of the characters from the Hellboy/B.P.R.D. universe brought to the silver screen, but it doesn’t wind up mattering. Production design is good. Harbour looks cool all made up and Milla Jovavich looks good here too, foxy, sultry and evil. Ian McShane is always great, until he’s turned into a weird ectoplasmic digital abomination (screen cap below), at which point even his natural awesomeness gets buried in all of this nonsense.

    To his credit, Harbour does as well as anyone could realistically hope for in the lead. He does the surly, grumpy thing well and is a good casting choice for the picture. He gets a couple good lines in here and there as well, but these fleeting moments, like the others in the film, quickly get lost in script that throws in way too many ideas way too quickly for naught.

    Hellboy – Blu-ray Review:

    Hellboy arrives on 4k UHD from Lionsgate on a 66GB disc using HVEC/H.265 encoding in a 2160p 4k transfer framed at 2.40.1 widescreen. Dolby Vision and HDR10 are both used for the transfer. Shot and finished in 4k, detail here is excellent. The CGI work still looks like CGI work, of course, but the picture really does let you marvel at each pixel. Detail and texture in the scenes with less digital manipulation look excellent and quite natural (or at least as natural as they can, given the nature of the story and its characters), while black levels are nice and deep throughout. The reds of Hellboy’s skin look really nice, and there are no noticeable issues with any compression to note. This one comes very close to reference quality on a pretty regular basis throughout the film. It looks fantastic.

    English language audio options are provided in Dolby Atmos and Dolby TrueHD 7.1 options. Dubbed tracks are provided in French and Spanish language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound tracks with optional subtitles offered up in English, French and Spanish. That Atmos track is a killer. Surround channels are used pretty much constantly from start to finish and there’s a really solid lower end here too. Bass response is very, very strong – the battle with the giants being the best example, your subwoofer will have your walls shaking during this scene – while dialogue stays perfectly clean and clear. The track is balanced very well, the score sounds excellent and really, there’s nothing to complain about here at all.

    The most substantial extra on the disc is Tales Of The Wild Hunt: Hellboy Reborn, a seventy-one-minute documentary that interviews pretty much all of the core cast and crew members involved with the production, including Hellboy’s creator, Mike Mignola. They talk about how and why they came bring Hellboy back and basically reboot things with this film, a lot of the effects work that went into pulling this off, the casting of the picture and lots, lots more. They all seem convinced that they made a far better movie than they did.

    Aside from that we get eight-minutes’ worth of deleted scenes, a seven-minute previsualization segment showing off some early digital animation used in the film, menus and chapter selection. The UHD disc comes bundled with a regular Blu-ray version as well as an insert card containing a code for a digital download. Lionsgate packages this release with a slipcover that is cooler than the movie itself.

    Hellboy – The Final Word:

    Hellboy is complete dreck. Harbour is alright in the lead and the movie has some interesting ideas at play but the execution of those ideas is awful. The CGI is soulless and terrible and the whole thing feels like a plotless, messy video game. The humor falls flat more often than not and the action is way too digitally enhanced to be even close to exciting. That said, Lionsgate has done a very nice job with the UHD release. The movie looks and sounds great and those who enjoyed the feature will appreciate the lengthy documentary included on its making.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Hellboy Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. agent999's Avatar
      agent999 -
      I pre-ordered the UK UHD as it was mis-priced at £10. The disc sounds just about pretty enough to keep the order open. Maybe...
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      It's an excellent presentation of a serious misfire.