The original Hellboy movie makes its way to 4K Ultra HD to celebrate its 15th birthday. But how does it shape up on the format? Is it mmmmmm like nachos, or stinky like, ah, crap?
The story: He may have been rebooted since, but for many this is the definitive Hellboy tale. Based on the Mike Mignola comic character, we get the origin story of the stone-handed “Big Red”, before heading to the present day. Well, the film’s present day. Here, Hellboy and other creatures reside at the secret government Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. They’re soon called into play after Ra-Ra-Rasputin is resurrected, causing Hell to generate on Earth in the form of an ancient creature, and activating the pyrokinetic powers of Hellboy’s crush, Liz. That unleashed thing from Hell is a creature that, when killed, spawns two more of itself. Suffice it to say that Hellboy subsequently has quite a time trying to kill it- erm, them…
“Red means stop!”
The 4K disc: For the most part, Sony have an exceptional record at restoring films for 4K release. We’re excited to report that Hellboy is no exception – it is superb in every way that we could find to look at it. A native 4K presentation, it’s aided and abetted by an HDR treatment that complements the film delightfully. Well, if the word “delightfully” should come anywhere near Big Red, of course. The film runs the gamut of very dark to very bright, often in quick succession, and nothing that’s thrown at us here looks at all out of place or off. There is some very fine grain present, but we never found it distracting – and, to be honest, if you sit more than a metre away from your screen then you’re likely to not pick it at all. What’s left to mention is the often astonishing detail – if you had the time and (inclination) you could send yourself bonkers counting every teensy pore on Hellboy’s face. Transfers don’t come to 4K any better than this – at least not that we’ve yet seen.
The great news continues with the newly-minted Dolby Atmos soundtrack that’s featured. Hellboy is a LOUD movie, with almost obsessive use of deep bass throughout. Every rumble, thud and explosion hits deeply and pleasingly here, while the soundtrack uses the surround channels to great effect. When you jump at a sudden noise from behind you then you know they’re doing things right (and that Guillermo del Toro enjoys freaking people out). Everything that the soundtrack throws out is clean and clear – quite a feat with so much going on at certain points – and height speaker usage is appropriately restrained, rather than gimmicky.
That’s 10/10 so far, so the extras are going to let us down, yeah? Nah! For starters, the 4K disc carries both the theatrical and slightly longer director’s cuts of the movie. The former features two commentary tracks, one from del Toro and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, the other from cast members Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Rupert Evans and Jeffrey Tambor. There’s also a solo commentary from the director on his cut. A brief, newly-made intro from del Toro is a great way to kick off the movie night, and there’s another new thing in a seven-minute retrospective featurette. Next? A six-part, almost 2.5-hour long (!) documentary entitled The Seeds of Creation that featured on the original Blu-ray release of Hellboy. Oh yeah, there are two trailers, too. If all of that doesn’t look good enough to you, we’re only just getting to the included standard Blu-ray. This delivers galleries, TV spots, Easter eggs, storyboards, deleted scenes, a handful of previously seen featurettes and also some half a dozen new ones. There you go folks, this is the complete package.
Release date: October 16, 2019
Format: 4K Ultra HD
Starring: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones
Want to know what to get next? Check out STACK‘s 4K Ultra HD specifications guide.