Hellboy II: The Golden Army
The subject matter isn't really my cup of tea, but the imaginative director Guillermo Del Toro delivers one hell of a ride. The well-conceived screenplay has a fair amount of humor, which thankfully kept me involved until the bombastic third act, which is over the top but delivers a satisfying conclusion.
Del Toro certainly knows the technical aspects of shooting a film, as ably demonstrated here. Black levels are rock solid with phenomenal shadow detail. Primary colors jump off the screen, especially red, which really helps when the hero looks like he walked to the Sun and back with his crimson tan. My only complaint is that some softness creeps into some CG effects, but these moments are relatively minor in an otherwise nearly flawless presentation.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack kicks it up a notch over the videoit's one of the more aggressive tracks I've heard this year, with chest-thumping bass and extraordinary dynamic range. The additional two rear channels are put to good use with some well-placed discrete effects creating a 360-degree soundfield filled with rain, thunder, gunshots, and creatures throughout. If you have kids in the house, you better send them for a sleep-over, because this one begs reference-level volume!
The BD-Live features include text chat, a sharing-scenes feature, a sneak peek at the Angelina Jolie movie Wanted, and a comic-book builder that can be shared with friends online. Fans of Universal's U-Control interface can enjoy a scene-explorer view, a director's notebook, set visits, and a comic book back-story interactive feature on the film's characters.
Traditional features come on a second DVD and include some mini-documentaries, a tour of the Troll Market with Guillermo del Toro, deleted scenes, a look at pre-production, and much more.
From a purely A/V perspective, Hellboy II: The Golden Army is a winner. The soundtrack is one of the best available on Blu-ray and is chock-full of demo-worthy moments. If the comic-book genre is your thing, be sure to add this to your collection.
Release Date: November 11, 2008
JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)
Onkyo Pro 85 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 Amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner
M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer
Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector