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