Hellboy II: The Golden Army appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This wasn’t a reference image, but it largely looked good.
For the most part, the movie came with appealing sharpness, though some mild exceptions occurred. Partly due to occasional light edge haloes, wider shots could feel a bit tentative.
Nonetheless, most of the flick delivered positive accuracy. No concerns with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and the image lacked print flaws.
The film used stylized tones that favored a mix of blues, golds and reds. For the most part, colors seemed good, though reds could appear somewhat heavy.
Blacks were generally deep, though they could seem a bit crushed at times. Shadows offered fairly positive clarity. Enough of the image succeeded to make it to a “B”, but this wasn’t a stunning presentation.
Army featured strong audio, as the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundfield offered an active environment. All the channels received frequent use, whether for the vivid action sequences or just to provide generally spooky music and ambience.
The different elements seemed nicely delineated and placed within the spectrum, and they blended together smoothly and cleanly. The surrounds played a very substantial role in the process and provided a high level of discrete information. As a result, the soundfield consistently gave us a lively and engaging presence.
Audio quality also seemed terrific. Dialogue sounded natural and distinct, with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility.
Music appeared bright and vivid, and the score and songs demonstrated solid dynamics. Highs came across as crisp and clear, while low-end sounded deep and warm.
Effects provided the highlights of the track, of course, as the myriad of elements kept the mix active. Those components sounded clean and accurate and they featured excellent low-end response.
Bass consistently appeared loud but it remained tight and never became overwhelming; that spectrum accentuated the process and didn’t become a distraction. I found nothing about which I could complain as I listened to this positive mix.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original 2008 DVD? Audio showed the greater range and warmth I expect when we get a move from lossy to lossless.
Visuals also brought the usual improvements, as the Blu-ray looked better defined and smoother than the lackluster DVD. This was an obvious upgrade, even with some of the visual concerns I witnessed.
Some of the DVD’s extras repeat here, and we get two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Guillermo Del Toro, as he provides a running, screen-specific chat.
Del Toro discusses story, themes and characters, the development of the sequel, sets and locations, visual design and cinematography, makeup and effects, inspirations and influences, and other production specifics.
Del Toro always offers interesting commentaries, and his chat here continues that trend. The director comes across as thoughtful, funny and unassuming as he discusses his film. He digs into a mix of fascinating topics and turns this into yet another terrific track.
For the second commentary, we hear from actors Selma Blair, Luke Goss and Jeffrey Tambor. All three sit together for their running, screen-specific chat. They talk about their experiences during the shoot as well as some character notes and performance specifics.
After the excellent chat from Del Toro, it seemed inevitable that the second track wouldn’t be as good. The actor commentary indeed falls far short of the level achieved by the director, and it often doesn’t give us a lot of substance.
Oh, it proves to be reasonably entertaining, mostly due to the chemistry among the actors. However, wee simply don’t learn much about the flick, so don’t expect much from the commentary.
U-Control offers an interactive component. It comes with four options: “Scene Explorer: Schufften Goggle View”, “Director’s Notebook”, “Set Visits” and “Concept Art”.
The “Goggle View” pops up three times and lets us see visual effects at various levels of completion. We see the “Notebook” five times, as it shows us Del Toro’s written comments and sketches.
“Set Visits” gives five short clips that take us to the shoot, while the “Gallery” appears four times and presents a few drawings for creatures and other elements. “Schufften” is new to the Blu-ray, but the others appeared on the DVD.
On their own, these features have merit, but they suffer when compared to their presentation on the DVD. That release included more information than we get from “U-Control” and displayed the components in a more user-friendly manner. I feel disappointed the Blu-ray cuts out some of these materials and makes them more difficult to access as well.
A Troll Market Tour with Guillermo Del Toro lasts 12 minutes, 22 seconds. During this, the director leads us through the troll market set and tells us a little about it.
Since I still enjoy behind the scenes elements, I find a lot to enjoy here. Del Toro is always such a fun host, and we get a nice sense of the details in the complex set through his chat.
After this we get an animated comic. Entitled Zinco Epilogue, the piece fills five minutes, 14 seconds as it shows an extension of the film’s ending. It proves mildly interesting but not much more than that.
Six Deleted Scenes go for a total of five minutes, two seconds. These include “Blackwood’s Auction Video” (0:40), “Coffee Break” (0:59), “Minty Aftertaste” (0:32), “On the Beat” (0:46), “Prince Nuada Silverlance” (1:28) and “Big Baby Montage” (0:37).
Liz and Manning get a boost in a couple of these, and we also find some minor exposition. “Silverlance” already appears in the final flick in shorter form, so it’s the least interesting of the segments here. Nothing crucial appears, but the clips offer some interesting little bits.
We can watch these scenes with or without commentary from Del Toro. He gives us some basic notes about the segments as well thoughts about why he dropped them. As always, Del Toro amuses and informs with his remarks.
A Production Workshop gives us a “thumbnail storyboard progression”. The “Introduction” (1:29) includes some opening notes from Del Toro, but then it shows the Golden Army puppet prologue via a storyboard/final film comparison (3:12).
We can watch the sequence sans intro but with added commentary from Del Toro. As always, he brings good information to the table and helps make this component worthwhile.
New to the Blu-ray, Comic Book Builder promises to allow you to make your own Hellboy magazine. It functions in a clunky and awkward manner that makes it little to no fun.
Lastly, we find a Gallery. It breaks down into “Creature Design” (174 images), “Mike Mignola Creator Gallery” (67), “Production Design” (83) and “Production Stills” (14).
You can view the elements either individually in thumbnailed galleries or through slideshow presentations. If you choose the latter for “Creator Gallery”, you’ll find a 36-minute, 22-second commentary from Mignola as well. That makes the “Creator Gallery” particularly valuable, but all four are good.
Note that the Army Blu-ray drops materials from the original two-disc DVD. In addition to a marketing gallery, we lose a nearly 155-minute documentary about the movie. That becomes a major omission.
While not quite as much fun as its predecessor, Hellboy II: The Golden Army provides a worthy sequel. I dislike some of its production aspects, but it still entertains and delights much of the time. The Blu-ray brings generally good picture along with strong audio and a good assortment of bonus materials – albeit a collection that loses important materials from the DVD. This becomes a fairly appealing release for a quality movie.
To rate this film, visit the original review of HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY