TROUBLE CITY

DVD REVIEW: HELLBOY ANIMATED - BLOOD & IRON

Home VideoTom FuchsComment

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STUDIO: Anchor Bay
MSRP: $19.98
RATED: NOT RATED
RUNNING TIME: 75 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) Enhanced for 16x9 TVs
  • Reversal of Fortune: Professor Broom's Story
  • Tales from the Tomb: A Look Inside Blood & Iron
  • Iron Shoes: The Animated Debut with Introduction by Mike Mignola
  • The Penanggalan: An E-Comic Exclusive with introduction by Mike Mignola
  • Audio Commentary featuring Mike Mignola, Tad Stones and Vic Cook

The Pitch

All your favorite Hellboy characters are back to tide you over as we wait for the next big screen installment of our favorite comic book spin-off that isn’t Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth.

The Humans

Featuring the voices of Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, John Hurt, Doug Jones and Roz from Frasier.

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Cant' wait for the next installment: Hellboy & the Phallosaurus.

The Nutshell

Hellboy and crew examine a house full of haunted delights, and Hellboy spars with a werewolf, a minotaur, a goddess, harpies, wolves, snakes, and other such stuff as Professor Broom encounters a nemesis from his early career in the BPRD. Not a helluva lot more to it than that.

The Lowdown

I’m going to out myself here on something: I’m not a fan of the Hellboy movie. Although the characters were well-realized and Perlman is exquisite casting as big red, all of the action in the film was boring and repetitive to me, and took away from the quieter moments which I felt were the only strong parts of the film. That said, I feel like the main characters were developed to a point where the sequel could only be a vast improvement over the original, and while we wait for The Golden Army, these little animated features are what we get to whet our appetites.

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The thing is, when they're together for 700-odd years, their cycles begin to synchronize.

Unfortunately, they suffer from a few of the problems of the original movie, but have an energy and brevity that carries them past these problems and makes them slight successes in and of themselves (in any case, leagues beyond those terrible piece-of-shit Ultimate Avengers movies). This is still comprised mostly of action sequences that contain little more than Hellboy punching something over and over again, but for a few small reasons I feel they’re an improvement over the movie’s action. First, they assemble something of a rogues gallery of gothic villainy here, and by having Hellboy constantly fighting different enemies at each stage of the film, while the mechanics of the fighting never really change (Hellboy getting the shit kicked out of him), the scope of the shit-kicking he’s taking does (the final fight is him being annihilated through the entire haunted house, with just the right amount of property destruction to give it an epic feel), which breaks up the monotony if that makes any sense. It also might be helped by its run time (slightly over an hour), which quite frankly doesn’t allow the time for it to grate or become completely soul-deadening for the viewer.

Having the film’s actors reprise their roles in voiceover form (except now Doug Jones gets to actually be heard instead of just kicking it pantomime style) is a nice bit of carryover that helps lend the animated features a canonical and more legitimate quality. That being said, it seems like Ron Perlman was being paid by the syllable as his line delivers tend to be a little stunted as compared to the other characters; and I know Hellboy isn’t exactly a loquacious character, but he’s terse here to the point where it becomes noticeable.

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Welles, I'll see you an all-black Othello and raise you an all-demon Macbeth.

For all of the cons I’m listing here, it might seem like I’m actually not a big fan of this endeavor, which would be misleading, because I actually thought there was more to like here than to dislike. The plot zips along at a pretty amiable pace (although the point of the reverse chronology in the flashback will hopefully be as bewildering to some as it was to me, it wasn’t done as a narrative necessity, so I guess it was just for style) and the animation captures some of the original spirit of the comic book. Hellboy’s character is pretty strongly realized, as he shows the same anger over being pummeled by a beast as he does for poor-tasting food. The action could be a little more smoothly directed, but it makes up for what it lacks in style with property damage. Hell, it even builds suspense a couple of times, evoking the dance club scene in Blade 2 where all of our particulars are spread out around the setting being stalked separately. All in all, it may not be the best translation from the screen to animation (that award still belongs to the Saturday morning adaptation of The Rules of the Game on ABC Family), but it’s an entertaining diversion until we see some real good shit out of Del Toro the second time around.

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Ghost Rider always had the fakest smile when a camera was on him.

The Package

The cover art continues the pattern established from the last release (Sword of Storms), so there’s little to quibble with as they’ve clearly decided on what works for them. That said, it could be snazzier. It also is necessary to note that it is more than likely by design (to hide the flaws and choppy quality of the animation, no doubt), but there’s a definite murkiness to the picture quality here. Most of the scenes take place in darkness with muted colors, so shitty eyeballs beware. There’s a nice little package of extras to sift through here. My copy came along with a 32 page Hellboy animated comic book that, while it doesn’t have art done by Mignola (BOO!), does have a temple made of human skeletons (YAY!).

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There’s an audio commentary by Mignola, director Tad Stones and Vic Cook which is quite unremarkable but okay, not enamored of the technical details but also involving the mythology of the characters and other small tidbits which make it entertaining enough to listen to. Also included are “Reversal of Fortune: Professor Broom’s Story” which affords one the opportunity to watch his flashbacks in chronological order (helpful hint: don’t), “Tales from the Tomb” which turns out to be a pretty honest look at the making of the picture in terms of them explaining what wasn’t working and what they did to correct it, “Iron Shoes” which is an animated Hellboy short where he fights an Irish demon with Iron Shoes that I found pretty entertaining and “The Penanggalan” which is a Mignola penned E-comic that is a short trifle but classic Hellboy all the same. All in all a nice little grouping of extras to give depth to a project that probably doesn’t merit it, but what the hellboy.

7.4 out of 10