Sunday, July 01, 2007

Hellboy's Up To His Neck In Trouble!

Hellboy: Blood and Iron is the second Hellboy animated movie released direct-to-DVD. The first was Hellboy: Sword of Storms. As in the first feature, Ron Perlman provides the voice for Hellboy. Other stars from the feature film lend their voices as well, including Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Peri Gilpin, and John Hurt. The story is taken from the second story arc of the Hellboy comics. It was originally called, “Wake the Devil”.

This movie shows more of Hellboy’s upbringing than the feature movie starring Ron Perlman. It also reveals a lot more of Professor (Bruttenholm) Broom’s background before he found Hellboy back in the 1940s after the Nazi Germans brought him into this world. As it turns out, Professor Broom was quite the paranormal investigator long before Hellboy arrived.

During those days, the professor’s arch-nemesis was Erzsebet Ondrusko, a vampire and worshiper of Hecate, the queen of witches. The opening sequence showing Broom’s encounter with the villainess is appropriately chilling and a visual treat. In fact, the whole movie owes more to creator Mike Mignola’s artwork than the feature-length movie. The scenes in the animated movie could have been ripped directly from Mignola’s comics pages.

Hellboy is introduced while lurking through a sewer system and looking for a monster. He, admittedly, is up to his neck in crap. The humor mixes very well with the action and emotion in the film. This isn’t Leo Tolstoy, but it’s nice to have characters you feel like you know and can care about. Especially when they’re dealing with old business that carries a lot of emotional baggage for them.

Hellboy puts down the creature with help from Abe Sapien and they quickly return to the hidden headquarters of the BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense). They sit around talking and the viewer gets to know more about the characters. One of the things I enjoy about the movies is that you don’t have to know much to understand who the characters are. You’re given what you need to know as you go along, and it’s never dull even for the true fans that already know everything.

When assignments are given out, Professor Broom usurps control of the meeting and assigns Hellboy, Abe Sapien, and Liz Sherman to investigate sightings of ghosts in a mansion that’s been remodeled into a top-of-the-line museum/lodge. The job was initially a low-priority for them. The professor offers no explanation and the rest of the team is left wondering what’s going on. More than that, the professor is going along and that hasn’t happened in years. All of them are concerned for his health.

Of course, when they arrive at the mansion, things are decidedly much worse than they were led to believe. There’s not just one ghost; there appear to be dozens. And even more evil is afoot.

Interspersed for the current ongoing story line, there are flashbacks to Professor Broom’s earlier encounters with Erzsebet Ondrusko. The story concerning Hellboy and the others definitely takes second-place to the overall storytelling until the very last of the movie. It’s all the clues and backstory of what has gone on before that really captures the interest.

The fight scene at the end of the movie is multi-layered as Hellboy and the others are divided. It’s all interesting to watch, but it tends to drag on the little, especially when you realize that time after time it is not over.

Due to the violence and the scary appearances of many of the monsters, this animated feature is and recommended for young kids. However, if you like cartoons and your kids do too, this is definitely one you can sit down and enjoy together. There’s enough story and enough action to keep everyone happy. At 75 minutes, you can easily fit the movie into an evening.

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