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Hellboy (2019) (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Hellboy’s return to cinema was something of a conflicted affair. The decision to forego the beloved del Toro/Pearlman films and restart fresh was a ballsy one. But, there seemed to be some excitement from earlier photos and the casting of a popular actor in David Harbour. That enthusiasm did not translate into good review or many box office receipts however and led to stories breaking on what a messy, tough affair the film was behind the scenes. Despite that, there’s a feature length documentary on the new 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray for the film, which makes its way home to the format on July 23rd. Stunningly enough, it will be available at no extra charge for Amazon Prime members to see that same day. So, I supposed you can check it out before diving into your pockets to grab it.

Film 

Hellboy is back, and he’s on fire. From the pages of Mike Mignola’s seminal work, this action-packed story sees the legendary half-demon superhero (David Harbour) called to the English countryside to battle a trio of rampaging giants. There he discovers The Blood Queen, Nimue (Milla Jovovich), a resurrected ancient sorceress thirsting to avenge a past betrayal. Suddenly caught in a clash between the supernatural and the human, Hellboy is now hell-bent on stopping Nimue without triggering the end of the world.

Boy, I don’t want to just pile on the Hellboy hate parade, but woof. I’m a big fan of director Neil Marshall and this is easily his weakest film no question. Though, it appears he was compromised in some fashion as he isn’t anywhere on the documentary, wasn’t at the premiere and plent of stuff leaked about problems with the film. His signature violence is here, but a tad tamer and more cartoonish than normal. But, the crime here with this film is probably not his fault; its the editing.

Hellboy’s 2019 restart is a sloppily cut together film from hacking it up to fundamental mistakes you just wouldn’t expect to see in a wide release film in the modern era. There are straight up shots that just don’t match up or sync with one another constantly in the film. And its probably meant to be a lean 2 hours and there is a ton of meat that is just absent. Its apparent because stuff will just happen that feel out of nowhere or like we were supposed to care. Relationships have things that are supposed payoffs but you find yourself not giving a crap. The Hellboy and Ian McShane relationship doesn’t amount to a hill of beans is jaw-droppingly uncooked and reaches a point where you should feel something and you really just don’t give a rip.

Another thing that bugged me throughout this, is that this movie just didn’t give any reason to exist. Its look, feel and such don’t deviate much at all from what Guillermo del Toro was doing. Yes, they are adapting the same material, but the designs and such sadly come off as a dime story version of his movies. Hellboy doesn’t even look all to different. Its not setting itself from the pack. And at its core, I really like this material they are using for the story and the sad part is that it would have been a really good one to use for a hypothetical third del Toro film. Alas, its wasted here.

I was hoping to join the “Its not as bad as they say” crowd with the film, but I just couldn’t get on board. The 2019 version is incredibly flawed and reeks of tampering and forcing a cut that shuts the director out. Even the effects don’t feel like they are finished in some spots (Color timing doesn’t match in places). Unlike another comic book movie disaster, Suicide Squad, I do think SOMEWHERE there is an okay cut of this movie (I trust Marshall over Ayer and will side that WB did their best to paint a turd gold but its still a turd). Unfortunately, we’re never going to see it. David Harbour and cast are fine (I LOVED watching Milla Jovovich ham it up), but they are done no favors from the material. Luckily, we’ve already been gifted the best possible Hellboy movie ever already in The Golden Army and that’s not going away any time soon.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Lionsgate’s Hellboy is a native 4K title having been shot at 3.4K and then finalized with a 4K digital intermediate. If a really nice, detailed image with good crispness and flush, full and lifelike feeling with its colors. While textures and such all see a nice uptick over the Blu-ray, some of the CGI effects become a little more obvious. But, as I mentioned in my review, I’m not sure they were finished to a convincing degree to begin with.

Depth:  Hellboy features some terrific spacing and a nice 3 dimensional look, especially with how smoothly and clearly the camera whips around. No motion distortions occur during battle or rapid movements.

Black Levels: Blacks excel quite nicely here doing well with all the darkness, shadows and the like. No detail is really lost impressively enough as well. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Hellboy’s red skin really pops here at every turn and does well in contrasting with his clothes and surroundings. Read also is a standout in the form of blood. Explosions and fire really soar and get a nice blister from the HDR.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Hellboy’s textures are quite visible and crisply discernible as is Daniel Dae Kim’s scarring on his face.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Descriptive Audio

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French SDH

Dynamics: Hellboy features a loud and active Atmos track that really utilizes the format well. Lots of smashing and banging with good depth and layering with the effects. Its full of nice surprises and balanced quite well. While I didn’t care for the film much at all, hearing the mix do its thing was a treat for it duration.

Height: The center channel features a lot of fun contributions like echoes, ghostly voices, falling debris, Hellboy being flung by a giant overhead and much more.

Low Frequency Extension: Explosions, crashes, punches, giant feet stomping, gunshots and more really pound the subwoofer in deep fashion.

Surround Sound Presentation: Like the ceiling, the surround speakers are all very playful. There is a wonderful room ambiance in every setting with plenty of unique contributions. Motion rolls around the room in correct directions and the mix also isn’t afraid to take any wild or weird chances.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp with good attention to diction.

Extras 

Hellboy comes with the Blu-ray edition and a digital copy of the film.

Tales of the Wild Hunt: Hellboy Reborn (HD, 1:11:28) – Told in 3 segments “The Forever Warriors: Story and Characters”, “Ye Gods and Devils: Creatures and Gear”, “Rise of the Blood Queen: Production”

Deleted Scenes (HD, 7:56)

Previsualization (HD, 7:18) – “Giant Fight”, “Gru Vs. Hellboy”, “London Apocalypse”.

Summary 

Hellboy was pretty rough and one of the worst films of 2019 (At least for mainstream affair). I’ll hold reservation that I do think there’s a better edit and at least “Okay” version looming somewhere. Anyway, the films 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray sports very high quality technical merits and features all the special features you could hope for (Surprisingly so with how much of a box office failure it was) sans Neil Marshall telling us like it is. If you’re one of those “Not as bad as they say” folks, this release is a terrific pick up.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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