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|Index||12 reviews in total|
I am a resounding fan of Guillermo del Toro's work and style, and was
quite intrigued when I found out that he produced several Hellboy
Animated features. It was not without a due sense of skepticism that I
decided to pick up Blood and Iron as well as its 2006 predecessor,
Sword of Storms. When I learned that these features aired on Cartoon
Network, I even feared that the core of what made the Hellboy universe
so interesting to me, the many invariant monstrosities that lurk within
the caverns, ruins and precipices of a seemingly mundane world, would
be diluted by censorship. Fortunately, I was wrong in these regards,
and Blood and Iron may be considered a very worthwhile addition to the
Hellboy universe as first put to film by Guillermo del Toro.
In Blood and Iron, Hellboy and the other key members of the BPRD set out under the personal lead of Professor Trevor Broom - as he was first introduced in the live-action movie - in order to investigate a haunted house. At the same time, you are let known how in the past, the Professor had tasked himself with hunting an old and powerful vampiress, Erzsebet (very well voiced by Kath Soucie). At first, the film sprouts a rather nonspecific battle scene that does not tell you much about the characters or the plot that is yet to come, but after this you will be exposed to the touch of surprisingly intelligent cartoon direction. As you are coasting through the story in a linear, chronological fashion, the plot and the true nature of the mission is explained in a backdrop of flashbacks that start at a pivotal event in the past, and then proceed anti-chronologically. In this method, the viewer is gradually let known the intentions and motives of the people and creatures both at current time and in times past. It is a clever method of character development, and serves to give a sense of wholeness to the entire feature; Blood and Iron has both a beginning and an end at both its start and its finish, and it works brilliantly.
The praise that I give is somewhat tempered however, by several characters that seemed entirely unnecessary, or simply did not fit into the well rounded equation that tops the experience. The presence of the Goddess Hecate serves as little more than a plot device to facilitate the antagonist's return and her presence in the film may serve to deter you from the wholeness of the experience. The only reason for her presence then is to give Hellboy something to do, while the professor continues with the real important stuff. She is the reason for a long, and enormously drawn out fight sequence that does not fit well with the movie and destroys its pace. Make no mistake, the real villain of this movie is Erzsebet, and that is how it should have remained. They could have gone much deeper with the story, and in light of what we are treated to in return and excess, I really wish they had.
Character design and voice acting is generally of high quality; we are treated to the same cast that played in the original Hellboy movie; Ron Perlman's Hellboy, Selma Blair's Liz Sherman, Doug Jones' Abe and John Hurt's Professor are easily recognizable, the first three often the center of sardonic and sarcastic wit that is worth quite a few laughs. Kate Corrigan, which you may know from the somewhat inferior Sword of Storms is back also, and we are given a new character in the form of human metal detector Sydney Leach, whose innocence and naiveté is a welcome addition to most of the rest of the BPRD, which seems to consist of people mentally hardened by frequent encounters with crazy things. Over all, his presence is solely meant to give the movie a lighter note at certain times.
The reason why the flaws of this movie persist can be found in the title; the real story does not revolve around Hellboy at all, as he takes a side seat to an experience in which Professor Trevor Bruttenholm is center point. Now, I really like the professor. He's sharp, he's kicking bottom, even when he's old. If just they could have found something for Hellboy to do without tarnishing the plot with, dare I say it, a Greek Goddess. Despite this little problem, though, Blood and Iron is still a very enjoyable movie. Cinematography grade; *** out of 5, but personally, I'd give it 8 out of 10
In the end, the main thrust of the story is largely dealt with by
Professor Broom while the rest of his team fights off the other evils
in the area. Hellboy himself gets a much more spectacular fight, but it
is with a monster that almost seems added as an afterthought when they
realized they didn't have enough for him to do.
Taking that into account, though, the story is fun enough to watch and Ron Perlman's wry delivery of Hellboy's lines is always fun. There is nobody who could give life to this character other than Perlman.
The animation is well done and the story moves along with efficient pacing. One thing that could prove confusing to some (though I found it an intriguing story device) is the use of flashback in this episode. The main story moves forward, but the flashbacks move progressively backward. It has the effect of putting both a beginning and an end at both the beginning and the end of the movie.
Hellboy: Blood and Iron is about vampires coming back after many, many
years in wait, and also about ghosts and memory and all those things
left behind. If it were about these things more-so in-depth (or rather
the kind of attention that Guillermo del-Toro would pay to the subject
matter if he directed), it would be really great material. Trouble is,
the Hellboy animated movies, with this the second installment, are
limited by means of budget, time, and even to an extent the scripting.
There's a lack of the dry, sly and just outright clever humor from the
Hellboy live-action movies, with only one or two quips from ol' Red
(Ron Perelman, always good even in dull one-liners), and some
characterizations and dialog that are as routine as whatever one might
find in a straight-to-video release.
These flaws being noted, Blood and Iron is extremely enjoyable for what it can afford in its 75 minute running time, which is giving some lifeblood to a comic-book that needs it desperately. The plot works mostly upon the strengths of the animators, and luckily they are many. What might seem ordinary and traditional- even a little lacking in fluidity (again, budget)- gives way to extraordinary moments going past the expected for "kids" stuff. There's some very dark material particularly in this installment, as we see an iron goddess, a vampire curse, a couple of blasted witches, snakes, and those creepy ghosts (which, thanks to some del-Toro presence, reminds one of the Gothic folklore of Mexico). It's all very impressive when it works best, and there's even some interesting designs for these villains and creatures of the night.
There might not be much depth (the climax is just a bunch of "we are not like *them*" semantics from the iron woman to Hellboy as they punch each other senseless), but for a short while it's some good fun and some brilliant animation, for what it's worth. Less than great, and at the same time far better than it should have any right to be. A-
Sword and Stones was a good film, don't get me wrong. Tad Stones and
Mike Mignola are really trying hard to make Hellboy a house hold name.
Since the movie came out, I have been trying to read every comic and
watch anything that remotes to the character.
But the problem with that film, and this one Blood and Iron, is the script and acting itself. We got a lot of great voice talent here like John Hurt, Ron Perlman, and Selma Blair. But with choppy dialog's (it seems like Ron only says 'crap' in both films), and just a sense of uninterest with the actors itself; it makes it a bit of a downer to watch.
The animation is great, the material is incredible. Although reworked for filming, there is a TON of comic references in both films. I just think that in order for this franchise to work, we need a better script. And try and make it more livier with the actors. It needs just abit more hard work to make this a great thing. Here's to the next film, The Phantom Claw.
After being a little disappointed with Sword of Storms, Blood and Iron makes up for it with a darker story, better voice acting, and a far less irritating music score. The movie begins with Hellboy beating down a monster, which is kinda what he does, and getting the crap beaten out of him while it happens, which is also kinda what he does. Afterwards, we're treated to a surprisingly layered story involving Trevor Bruttenholm, Hellboy's "father" essentially, an old vampire, and the witch-goddess Hecate. Caught in the middle is this old priest who lost his faith, which gives the story a good grounding that Sword of Storms lacked. It's much less of a "Let's kill the bad monster" story, and brings a very human element to the equation. The story also leaves out the ham-handed character development seen in Sword of Storms, for a much grittier, more subtle, and believable portrayal. My main criticism would be the inclusion of the "human metal detector" guy. He's not particularly helpful or necessary to the story. He actually serves to water down some scenes that were building real suspense. They also could have done a better job setting up Hecate as a character. She comes off as another monster, but her motivations don't quite work for me. Overall, I think Blood and Iron is a step in the right direction, and worth seeing at least once. It's a must-see for fans of the comic book, and anyone disappointed with the live action movie.
When a live-action movie comes out and then an animated TV movie, this
leads mostly to the popular character having its own television series.
But for Hellboy (2004), the iconic character went in this direction but
then kind of just floated around. How Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms
(2006) did with viewings and ratings are a bit beyond my knowledge.
After seeing it, it definitely did not feel like a total waste of time.
It was by no means perfect with choppy animation, a confused
demographic it was trying to attract and an undetermined setting of
which it took place but it still had things to have fun in. If that
warranted this second animated feature I'm not sure what the whole
point of it was. Was it going to be a TV show or not? Or were they just
made to hold over its fans for the upcoming sequel? I don't know, the
reason seems unclear. So does this entry improve upon the last - not
really. It's just more of the same brainless fun.
The story to this entry is about when the owner of a mansion begins to suspect it's haunted. When in fact it turns out years before Hellboy (Ron Perlman) was kicking demon's butts, Dr. Broom (John Hurt) had visited the mansion once before vanquishing an evil vampire queen named Erzsebet Ondrushko (Kath Soucie). Now, Dr. Broom suspects someone might be attempting to revive her. As an overall story, it is certainly not as sluggish in its pacing as Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms (2006) was. It is a lot more straightforward with its execution. However, the timeline placement is now off. For the prior animated film, Dr. Broom was not seen, so it was assumed what was depicted was after Hellboy (2004). But for this viewing, Dr. Broom is around so this must be before the first live-action film. I guess the writer Kevin Hopps is just picking random stories.
The only part of the writing that isn't clear is a subplot involving Hellboy confronting his destiny with some goddess named Hecate (Cree Summer). It's brought up first at the beginning and then flies in from left field right at the finale. It feels almost unnecessary with how little it has to do with anything else. The characters are still as likable as ever and there's a more of an exclusive cast of voice actors this time around as well. Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones and John Hurt all return as their respective characters and they do a fine job at it. Peri Gilpin as Erzsebet sounds convincing in her role as a deadly youth obsessed vampire. Even Cree Summer as the other goddess sounds fairly terrifying. But the fun part is when you can also pick out the characters that are voiced by Rob Paulsen and Jim Cummings. You just can't go wrong with such talents as those.
When it comes to action, these sequences contain the required energy to keep the movie moving. And considering its Hellboy, there needs to be enough action. Hellboy's has to be punching something at some point and making a wisecrack. The interesting thing is, the violence in this motion picture is even more graphic and edgier than Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms (2006). There's animated blood all over the place in this entry. But this isn't the only thing that makes it edgy. There's also a slew grotesque imagery, dead people and a fair share of nudity with demons and voluptuous figures. Is it just me or did the animators really not think this through on who this feature film is designated for? The other animated film could be seen as a movie for both old and young ages, but this one totally denies any presence of a viewer younger than 13. The directors to this movie was Victor Cook (Dante's Inferno (2010) and Tad Stones (Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins (2000)) of which they direct it fine but represent two opposite sides of the demographic for animated films.
The only thing worth picking on here is the animation, which is again choppy in areas. The only sections that look decently animated are the entertaining action sequences. Other than that, all other animated scenes have rigid character movement in body parts and mouth movement. It's a shame when you have animators like Kirk Tingblad and Andy Chiang who have worked on numerous animated projects and yet here it doesn't feel polished. The final component to the movie that does feel well put together is the film score composed by Christopher Drake. Just like Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms (2006), Drake maintains Marco Beltrami's main theme for the franchise and even uses some quite horrifically good sounding tunes to amp up the atmospheric setting at which the story takes place. It's still fun but not any different from before.
This feature film is about the same compared to Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms (2006), with the same choppy animation (except for the action sequences), unclear timeline placement and an unfinished subplot. Yet, the voice cast is still fun to listen too, the edgy tone and violence is respectable along with the appropriate music. The demographic seems more adult focused here than the last one.
The second of two animated features co-directed by Darkwing Duck
creator Tad Stones, "Hellboy Animated: Blood & Iron" is a very fun and
light adventure featuring everyone's favorite cigar-chomping,
trench-coat wearing blue-collar demon-turned-good-guy. Produced by
character creator Mike Mignola and "Hellboy" film director Guillermo
del Toro, "Blood & Iron" is very much in every way a marked improvement
over the previous animated effort, "Sword of Storms." With a more solid
foundation for the story, the inclusion of new characters that
compliment the returning leads, and a slower and more deliberate
pacing, here we are given a glimpse of what could have been, should the
"Hellboy Animated" series have been given a chance to continue on after
these initial two installments.
As part of a publicity stunt, the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense sends Hellboy (voice of Ron Perlman), Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and Professor Broom (John Hurt) to perform a ghost-hunt in a massive mansion recently purchased by an eccentric millionaire who hopes to turn it into a hotel resort. However, things take a shocking turn for the worse when it appears the alleged haunting is indeed very real, and may be tied to a disturbing and dark chapter of Professor Broom's own past. And so, Hellboy and the others will need to fight demonic spirits, evil harpies and vampiric forces to save the day and right what once went wrong so many years ago.
Part of what makes this particular feature work so well its the keen use of atmosphere and some really sharp storytelling. The dark, brooding and very Gothic visuals help lend an old-fashioned eerie feeling to the piece that's just creepy enough to make it effective but not so scary as to frighten older children. It gave me fond memories of growing up watching old, cheesy William Castle and Vincent Price horror flicks with my mom. It's very much fun first and frightening second, and the beautifully dreary and inky artwork helps set just the right mood. The writing is a far more developed and methodical as well this time around. Stones and co-writers Mignola and Kevin Hopps craft a very intriguing tale that cleverly utilizes a non-linear structure, with two separate story lines in past and present that feed off of one- another and help develop the over-arcing plot.
The performances as always are a phenomena and Perlman continues to define the role of the big, red goof. I also really appreciated the inclusion of John Hurt this time around, after having been absent in the previous film. He adds a great sense of class and taste to the film, and his familiar voice as Broom- a role he played flawlessly in the feature length films, was invaluable to the experience. Supporting roles by the likes of Peri Gilpin and Rob Paulson also add a nice bit of scope to the cast. I especially enjoyed Paulson's role as Sydney Leach, the new junior agent sent along for the ride. I get the feeling he may have been a last-minute replacement for the character Russell Thorn, a similar character initially seen in "Sword of Storms." But he fares much better here than Thorn did in his film... he's a bit more grounded and played far less broadly, which I thought was a big benefit to the somewhat more serious tone of this entry.
The film isn't without flaw, however. The biggest issues I had were the disjointed nature of the first act and some really bad corner- cutting later on in the film that was obviously the result of limited time and resources. The first ten or fifteen minutes, while admittedly a lot of fun to watch, don't quite feel as refined as the remainder of the film. In particular a sloppy opening "adventure" that feels beyond tacked- on and even a bit condescending in terms of pandering. Do we really need to manufacture excuses to have Hellboy say "crap" a dozen times in less than five minutes? It's also clear that the animation team had to do some sequences on the fly, especially during the climax, so be prepared for a few sloppy effects and even seeing lots of double and triple uses of the same character designs and elements. Not enough to ruin any particular scene, but just noticeable enough to become somewhat grating.
Still, the better use of plotting, structure and pacing in comparison to the first animated adventure, in addition to the wonderful design work and vocal performances are able to distract from these minor issues and help craft and engaging and very fun little film. It may not quite measure up to the high standard set by the two live-action films, but as its own beast, "Blood & Iron" is more than serviceable and is a great way to get your "Hellboy" fix as the prospect of a third theatrical release seems less and less likely over time. It's a great deal of fun, and considering that you can pick up a double- pack of the two animated flicks on Blu-Ray for about $5, it's a worthy investment. It'll make for a very thrilling and sometimes spooky evening with your family!
I give "Hellboy Animated: Blood & Iron" a very good 8 out of 10.
I first watched the two live action Hellboy movies which I enjoyed. I then watched the two animated Hellboy movies. Despite this being animated, it feels just like the live action Hellboy. I enjoy the main characters interaction with each other, they play off each other so well. The guy who is the human metal detector is a fun character, even though his ability is very lame. There is horror in this, but I think that almost anyone can handle the content, even older kids. I was hoping for a third animated Hellboy film, but I don't think that it will ever happen since this second film was released in 2007. This was a fun action packed horror adventure.
In '39, a young Bruttenholm(who was fighting off a helium addiction at the time... OK, what is probably actually the case is that they tried to fiddle with the recordings so he'd sound like the age he was supposed to be, and it was a horrible result... it's perfect when they don't, however... he's the one kind of Hurt I love) put down the vampire Erzsebet(this is gone over near the opening, and then further details are added on by several flashbacks over the course of this... and they, for some reason, decided to put these back into chronological order(would you do that with Pulp Fiction? If you would, don't go near that film again), in the 20 and a half minute extra Reversal of Fortune: Professor Broom's Story. Today, it appears that some of her followers are attempting to bring her back, at the newly acquired haunted mansion owned by a millionaire. A ton of ghosts and a phantom wolf pack are among the supernatural entities they meet there, and Hellboy himself(who also fights a minotaur, in the first bit... and it has Mr. Wink's hand, and it's far cooler here than in the second flick) is challenged by Hecate, Goddess of Witches, on his purported destiny to lead to the destruction of mankind. The entire team(joined by a Human Metal Detector(!), who wanted to experience something... and he might just get his wish) is together in this one, all of them with something to do, and all of them worried about Trevor, who hasn't been on an active mission for a decade and a half, and insisted on going on this one. At 73 minutes, this is quite well-paced, keeping you watching throughout. This is superior to Sword of Storms. Part of it is that there is only one plot, and it's connected(as opposed to the many small ones they tried to cover up not having to do with each other in that one), it's compelling(she drinks the blood of young women to remain youthful forever), and because of the time dedicated to it, we really delve into it, and get into themes of good and evil, faith, and magic. The characters are great, and the acting is excellent for everyone involved. Blair did it right in this one, don't know what happened last time... maybe she just needed to get into it? There is action in this, not as frequent as the other(this is closer to thriller in that respect), and this is definitely first and foremost horror. It's atmospheric(taking an appropriate amount of time establishing the apparitions and mood of the place), creepy and there are some nicely done jumpscares and spooky sequences. This is locked into one location, with leaps in time(back and forth between the two periods), sharpening its focus. The animation is well-done, with a few stand-outs visuals. Creature design and the like are memorable. Dialog and humor are marvelous, this is yet again very funny. You can follow this reasonably without knowing much about the movies or graphic novels. There is some violent and disturbing content in this, and a little mild to moderate language. The DVD comes with an informational, interesting commentary track(Mike Mignola, Tad Stones and Victor Cook), two featurettes that I will review on their own pages here on this site: the 13 minute Tales From The Tomb: A Look Inside Blood Iron & Iron and the 3 and a half minute Iron Shoes: The Animated Debut and Penanggalan: An E-Comic Exclusive From Mike Mignola(what? I don't have the credentials to critique it). I recommend this to fans of the franchise. 7/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is an interesting animation, because the style looks deliberately low-budget and 2D. But that is thanks to the quite astonishing style of the original comics. Mike Mignola's uncompromising heavy ink and shadow artwork was not going to be easy to reproduce, and of course there was the strong temptation to produce a melding of the film art and comic art. I think - happily - that the film art has been left to the voice talents (very good) and the attempt has been made to animate Mignola's artwork. Hasn't quite worked, of course, because the deep and resonant tableaux of the comics are so specific to the printed page that exact reproduction would not be practicable. But the hard lines and deep shadow have survived, and the genius behind some of the most frightening modern images of occult evil has shone through. I'm a fan of the comics; I'm a fan of Ron Perlman; both have been well served here, and I recommend seeing this (especially in the DVD extra version)
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