Red Right Hand

I've been enjoying a hell of a special edition DVD set today.

I liked Hellboy when I first saw it in theaters. I hadn't really read the comics but had an awareness of the character, and liked Mike Mignola's style. It was a fun ride and a good comic book movie in the tradition of the recent rise of the genre in the last decade. But I wasn't sure why it would merit a 3-Disc DVD treatment. I had seen the astonishing box last week in Target, and when I encountered it again in Best Buy this week, I decided to purchase it.

The movie holds up well on a second viewing. VERY well. Several scenes have subtly been expanded, though I didn't notice which ones exactly until I rewatched with the director's commentary. Therein I found the answers to why the movie was so good, and why the DVD set existed in this form. Guillermo del Toro is a self-confessed comics geek, his youth intact after 40 years and two children. He himself was a fan of Mignola and the two hit it off immediately, finding they had many influences in common. His commentary is rich with references to Jack Kirby, whose influence on Mignola's work is unmistakable, and Ray Harryhausen, who influenced Del Toro. He speaks at length about Pulp Fiction works such as Doc Savage and The Shadow as well, and carrying on the stylistic legacy they established.

Comic book movies work best when they're true to the source material and translate to a different medium the things fans loved about them in their original form. Many frames of the film are lifted directly from Mignola panels, and the artist was an active consultant on the film. Del Toro is a gifted writer and made some additions such as a romance between two of the lead characters that only improved the story. The creative process is extensively covered in a two-hour documentary, chronicling the early meetings between the creators, sculpting of miniatures, sketching story boards, casting and finally the unique blend of CGI and conventional animatronics and rigs that brought the comic to life. There's also an impressive featurette in which Scott McCloud examines the history of the genre, giving sequential art the same legitimacy and respect my friends and I had for it back in college. Comics ARE an art form, and have many variations. McCloud talks about how the word applies to so much more than superheros, and how modern comics might be very different were it not for a couple of kids named Siegel and Shuster.

This is the best thing I've bought in a while. It has reinvigorated my love of the creative process in general and of comics in particular, and even now in the background I’m listening to a panel discussion from a ComicCon featuring Del Toro, Mignola, and Ron Perlman. There is so much on here. I actually wasn't very interested in seeing this when I saw the initial trailers, and it wasn't until they started showing the one with the sexy Selma Blair as the fiery Liz Sherman admonishing, “You should be RUNNING!” that I found myself running to the theater.

I am so glad I did.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked that movie.

- CoRn

11/02/2004 9:45 PM  

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