|Index||9 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.
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.
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-
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.
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)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The first animated Hellboy movie wasn't bad but I didn't like the
Japanese mythology and I felt like Big Red should have had a more
accessible story after the 2004 movie. Blood and Iron keeps the action
in America (with the exception of a few flashbacks) and focuses on a
The BRPD are assigned to a case involving a mysterious mansion in the Hamptons where spirit Erzsebet Ondrushko (based on Elizabeth Bathory,the legendary Blood Countess), defeated by Professor Broom in the early 40s, plots her own resurrection after selling her soul to Hecate, the queen of the witches. The Professor joins HB, Liz and Abe (clearly this is set before the movie) in solving the case so he can finally put the Blood Countess out of action forever.
The humor is as dry as ever and the animation would shame both traditionally animated shows and all the modern 3D CGI rubbish. I wish all animation could look this good without having to resort to the ugly aesthetics experimented with in Batman: Gotham Knight.
With so many Hellboy graphic novels out there these animated movies could go on for ages if they were to base their stories on them. Blood and Iron itself is based on the 'Wake the Devil' storyline from the comics. It's far superior to modern cartoons. And what's with the 15-rating in the UK?
this second animated Hellboy adventure(following Sword of Storms)is an improvement.i found the story more interesting,as well as the characters.the villain was much more defined and compelling.i felt the pacing was better in this one,and the story was more straightforward.as in the previous animated film,much of the cast of the two live action features are in this one,so the voice acting from the main characters is good.the supporting actors are also good.again,there are some laughs as well.but i found the overall tone darker,which is much more suited to this franchise,in my opinion.for me,Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron is a 6/10
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