Dom Robinson reviews

Hellboy Give Evil Hell.
Distributed by

Columbia TriStar


  • Cert:
  • Cat.no: CDR 34856
  • Running time: 117 minutes
  • Year: 2004
  • Pressing: 2005
  • Region(s): 2, PAL
  • Chapters: 28 plus extras
  • Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Languages: English, Italian
  • Subtitles: 7 languages available
  • Widescreen: 1.85:1
  • 16:9-Enhanced: Yes
  • Macrovision: Yes
  • Disc Format: 2 * DVD 9
  • Price: £22.99
  • Extras :
    Disc 1: Introduction by Guillermo del Toro, DVD Comics, “The Right Hand of Doom” set visits, Storyboard track, Audio commentaries, Hellboy recommends… (cartoons), DVD-ROM content,
    Disc 2: Introduction by Selma Blair, Egg Chamber (Deleted Scenes, The Seeds of Creation Documentary, Filmographies & Character Biographies), Kroenen’s Lair (Storyboards, Animatics, Board-a-matics), Maquette Video Gallery, Bellamie Hospital (Posters & Trailers), Hellboy Merchandise, Trailers for other films, Easter Eggs


      Guillermo del Toro

    (Blade 2, Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone, Hellboy 1 & 2, Mimic)


    Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin and Mike Richardson


    Guillermo del Toro

(based on the character created by Mike Mignola)


    Marco Beltrami


    Hellboy: Ron Perlman
    Trevor ‘Broom’ Bruttenholm: John Hurt
    Liz Sherman: Selma Blair
    John Myers: Rupert Evans
    Grigori Rasputin: Karel Roden
    Tom Manning: Jeffrey Tambor
    Abe Sapien: Doug Jones
    Voice of Abe Sapien: David Hyde Pierce (uncredited)
    Sammael: Brian Steele
    Karl Ruprect Kroenen: Ladislav Beran
    Ilsa: Bridget Hodson
    Agent Clay: Corey Johnson
    Young ‘Broom’: Kevin Trainor

After my enjoyment of Blade II, I looked forward to Hellboy, but while there’s some fun to be had along the way it’s ultimately disappointing.

Created by Mike Mignola for Dark Horse Comics, we learn that Hellboy arrived through the portal opened up by the Nazis on October 9th, 1944, when they dabbled in the occult and black magic in a bid to win the war, but were interrupted by the US Army, accompanied by a young Professor Broom (Kevin Trainor). The portal was closed, but it was feared something had come through and Hellboy was that product.

Sixty years on and now aged 88, Professor Broom (John Hurt) works at The Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense where he keeps an eye on Hellboy (Ron Perlman), aka ‘Red’, and Abe Sapien (performed by Doug Jones but with the voice of Fraiser‘s David Hyde Pierce in an uncredited role), aka ‘Blue’, who go out into the world only to rid it of evil weirdos and bizarre creatures.

The ultimate aim for Rasputin (Karel Roden, also seen in last year’s The Bourne Supremacy), and his female companion, Isla (Bridget Hodson) is to open the door to Ogdru Jahad – the Seven Gods of Chaos, as then there’ll be no going back for the Earth. This is only one of the problems Hellboy has to deal with, but while there are fantastic special effects, building on del Toro’s CGI in Blade II, starting with our hero’s fight against the first of the breed known as Sammael, when it comes to finally killing off the enemy and dealing with their biggest intentions it comes across as surprisingly easy, and that’s when you feel a bit cheated as you’ve been waiting for a pay-off that doesn’t really come. That hasn’t stopped a sequel being planned.

Of the rest of the cast, Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) stopped working at the agency and ended up in a mental institution after a fire-related incident, the nature of which I won’t divulge here as it would be a spoiler, her leaving being much to Hellboy’s annoyance as they were an item. That said, it’s no spoiler to state that she’s underused in this movie, but then she’s not much of an actress anyway. Rupert Evans is the new boy starting at the Research Dept and discovering all the weird things on his first day, while Jeffrey Tambor plays the archetypal know-nothing suit.

Hellboy is pretty violent for a 12-cert, but no doubt it got lower than a 15 because of its fantasy origins.

The extras span two discs and are as follows:

Disc 1:

  • Introduction by Guillermo del Toro: The director introduces the movie, briefly. Job done.

  • DVD Comics: Throughout the film you’ll see the ‘Hellboy’ comic logo appear onscreen. Press ‘enter’ at this time to view new stories drawn by Mike Mignola and written by the director. Alternatively, these are indexed here so can be viewed from this menu.

  • “The Right Hand of Doom” set visits (18 mins): Again, like the above, when the icon appears onscreen with this feature selected you can see several of the sets, or check them out from the index here.

  • Storyboard track: This features synchronises artist Simeon Wilkins’ storyboards to the film.

  • Audio commentaries: Two here. One from its director and creator, and the other from cast members Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Jeffrey Tambor and Rupert Evans.

  • Hellboy recommends… (28 mins): Four very strange cartoons, mostly featuring Gerald Boing-Boing.

  • DVD-ROM content: Available here are a printable original screenplay, script supervisor’s notebook and excerpts from the director’s notebook.

Disc 2:

  • Introduction by Selma Blair: Similarly brief, but incredibly stilted. Is she on something?

  • Egg Chamber (147 mins): This section houses three parts to it. There are 3 Deleted Scenes, each with additional director’s commentary as an option, totalling just over 4 minutes and all in letterbox 16:9, and a massive three-part documentary, shot in anamorphic 16:9, entitled The Seeds of Creation which covers the pre-production of the characters and how they translated from graphic novel to screen, highlights of the full 116-day principal photography shoot, the sound design and the movie premiere. The documentary alone runs for 143 minutes, so there’s plenty of facts and fancies for any big fan of this movie.

    In addition to this comes brief filmographies for all the major cast and crew, as well as illustrated and detailed text character biographies. They’ve definitely catered very well for the fans here.

  • Kroenen’s Lair (70 mins): Following a brief 1-minute look at a doodle for the storyboard for Ogdru Jahad, there are four more animatics which can be viewed on their own or with the finished product along side for comparison, such as with Hellboy chasing after the Sammael. The Board-a-matic sequences work along the same principle, but by comparison sometimes show a slightly different take on things. Finally, the Storyboard Comparisons work similar to the Animatics, again with options to view as a comparison or on their own.

  • Maquette Video Gallery: Special sculptures of key odd things throughout the film, here available to be viewed as they rotate or in close-up: Baby Hellboy, Abe Sapien, Sammael, Ogdru Jahad, The Corpse and the Behemoth.

  • Bellamie Hospital (9 mins): Two almost identical theatrical trailers, 9 TV spots and masses of poster designs including the final set.

  • Hellboy Merchandise: A web link for to spend more of your money: Click here to visit.

  • Trailers: for additional Columbia films: Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, Boa Vs Python, Frankenfish and Spiderman 2.

  • Easter Eggs: There are a number spanning both discs, but I’ll let you discover them all.

And that’s the lot, although note that there are a couple of other things that have been rated for a “Director’s Cut” DVD on the BBFC website that haven’t made it to this disc, such as a Q&A Archive at the Comic Con 2002, a featurette about comics from Scott McCloud and a disc 3 introduction by Ron Perlman.

Disc 3? There has been such a release in the US, so when will it come out here?

The menus blend in well with the theme of the film, which is good if you actually enjoyed it, there are subtitles in English, Italian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Greek and Hindi, and the main feature is divided into 28 chapters.

The subtitles go a bit wonky in a couple of scenes: halfway through as Hellboy deals with a second Sammael, with some red appears over some of the subtitles, while it happens again when they finally deal with the Sammael for good, towards the end.


Review copyright © Dominic Robinson, 2005.