Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Featured In Issue 138, January/February 2009

WSR Score4
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Not Indicated
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Guillermo del Toro
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Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, DTS HD Lossless 7.1, DTS 5.1
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A creature found off the coast of Scotland, Hellboy (Perlman) is now working as an agent for the secret U.S. organization Bureau For Paranormal Research And Defense. Now Hellboy must rise and defend humankind against The Golden Army, who have been dormant for many years. Will Hellboy be able to defeat the royal usurper Prince Nuada (Goss) and send the 4,900-strong Golden Army back into hibernation for good? Based on the comic book by Mike Mignola. (Stacey Pendry)

Special features on Disc One include commentary with Director Guillermo del Toro; commentary with cast members Jeffrey Tombor, Selma Blair, and Luke Goss; U-Control Scene Explorer (explore multi-angle on-screen action from four different perspectives); an interactive Director's Notebook; Set Visits (seven behind-the-scenes mini-documentaries); a Troll Market Tour With Guillermo del Toro featurette (SD 12:22); an animated comic Zinco Epilogue (SD 5:14); a Concept Art Gallery, which is a montage of conceptual drawings, production design, and production stills narrated by Designer Mike Mignola (HD 36:22); Production Workshop: Professor Broom's Puppet Theatre: puppet production sequence (SD 4:41); six deleted scenes with optional commentary by del Toro (SD 5:04); My Scenes Bookmark Clips; and a BD-Live™ Comic Book Builder. Disc Two contains a prologue by the director (SD 0:22); a making-of documentary Hellboy: In Service Of The Demon (SD 154:31); a bonus print and poster gallery in Marketing Campaign; a DVD-ROM enhancement, which contains the script for the film; and a digital copy of this movie for your Mac or PC.

The 1080p AVC 1.85:1 picture is a significant improvement over the DVD previously reviewed, with finer resolution, detail, and color definition. Shadows are delineated nicely, but black levels remain inconsistent, appearing too high at times. Fleshtones are highly contrasted, but contrast is generally balanced well. The color scheme is dominated by golds, browns, reds, blues, and greens, but saturation is fairly well balanced. Source and compression artifacts are not noticeable, nor is edge enhancement. Overall, the picture quality is robustly vivid and engaging, and is sure to please. (Gary Reber)

While the DVD's Dolby® Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack makes full use of each available channel, including the LFE, the 7.1-channel DTS-HD Master Audio™ soundtrack is even more spectacular and holosonic®. The directionalized surrounds do a fantastic job of engaging the listening space, and pans across each stereo wall are mixed with great precision. The side channels are more aggressive than the back surrounds in the setup we use. Reversing the channels with the side signals now in the rear surrounds creates a different soundfield presence. But is this correct? Unfortunately the creative community and the studios, and the equipment manufacturers, have not dictated a spatial loudspeaker setup standard, nor are the studios indicating in their Blu-ray Disc packaging or on the disc what the loudspeaker positioning should be for the particular soundtrack mix. Our preferred 7.1-channel setup is a perfect circle, with each full-range loudspeaker location equidistant from the sweet spot and equidistant from each other along the perimeter of the 360-degree circle. In this arrangement the added mid-left and mid-right surrounds convey added surround envelopment and dimensionality. Sound effects and Foley effects are well recorded and effectively placed throughout the soundfield. The soundtrack is very engrossing, creating a detailed soundfield that sounds very natural. Dynamic range is good, and subtle details in the recording can be heard frequently. Bass drops below 25 Hz with authority at times throughout, and bass is generally defined well, with good pace and visceral impact. LFE .1 effects can be powerful and punishing. Dialogue sounds full and natural and is always well articulated. Fidelity is excellent as well. This is a reference-quality 7.1 soundtrack that is fully spatially engaging. (Gary Reber)