Hellboy: Blood & Iron

Well, I’ve gone two weeks without writing a videogame-related post. There’s a reason for that—about two weeks ago, I sort of lost interest in gaming. Burned out, I guess, after four or five months of hardcore videogame obsession. It’s happened to me before; I well remember how obsessively I played Diablo in summer 1997, only to stop abruptly in late August and then I was never able to enjoy the game again.

I think a lot of people go through phases like this. And if the right game came along, I’d probably get into it. As of right now, though, the only games I’ve been interested in have been Super Smash Brothers Brawl and Konami’s Hellboy.

Speaking of Hellboy, I finally watched the second animated flick, Blood & Iron, last week. While I enjoyed the first film, Sword of Storms, Iron is a definite improvement. Where Storms had Hellboy wandering around the world of Japanese folklore, the new film brings the big red lug back to his roots, having him battle vampires and werewolves in a haunted house. The story is loosely based on the legend of Elizabeth Bathory.

I like the direction the Hellboy animated films have taken. The style is a kind of PG-13 Saturday morning cartoon. It’s a lot like Disney’s Gargoyles, actually, which is still well-regarded among many fans for its excellent storytelling, atmosphere, and animation. (In fact, now that there’s both a Gargoyles comic and a animated Hellboy comic, perhaps we could see a crossover in print? I think it would be a match made in heaven, particularly given the ease with which the two factions could be manipulated into fighting one another.)

For fans of the live-action Hellboy movie, you’ll be pleased to hear that Ron Perlman plays the voice of Hellboy, while Selma Blair returns as Liz Sherman and John Hurt portrays Professor Bruttenholm. In an interesting twist, Abe Sapien’s voice is provided by Doug Jones, the actor who was in the Abe suit in the movie, but wasn’t heard (the voice was provided by David Hyde Pierce—Niles from Frasier). Jones will also be providing Abe’s voice for Hellboy 2, but sadly, he’s being dubbed again in his role as the Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four 2 (the Surfer is voiced by Laurence Fishburne, and judging from the trailers, it doesn’t quite work for the Surfer).

The animated Hellboy is based more on the comic than the movie, though there are a few significant changes. For instance, Professor Bruttenholm is still alive; in the comics, he was killed in the very first issue of Hellboy back in 1994. In the cartoon, the BPRD is headquarted in an abandoned military base in the mountains, but in the comics the BPRD spent most of its life in Fairfield, CT and only very recently moved to the mountain stronghold. And of course, in the comics Hellboy quit the BPRD years ago and has been off the reservation, so to speak, for quite some time, while in the cartoon he’s still an active member of the Bureau. So the cartoon represents a third universe from the comic and the live-action films, a kind of mixture of both.

In terms of storytelling, neither of the animated movies have been quite as tight as the live action film. However, this lack of a clear, coherent plot progression is true to the comic. The second Hellboy volume, Wake the Devil, has a third act that has little or nothing to do with what went before it, and something similar happens in Blood and Iron; once the apparent main threat has been vanquished, another one rears its ugly head (literally).

Despite the non-realistic, exaggerated art style, some of the monsters are genuinely horrifying, and there are some great shocks and troubling scenes (including a somewhat disturbing torture sequence—it’s handled in a way that wouldn’t really trouble a kid over the age of eight, but if you’re an adult you may be a bit surprised).

Blood and Iron comes out on DVD this Tuesday. If you’re a big Hellboy fan like me, it’s definitely worth picking up, and if you’re a casual HB fan, maybe give it a whirl on Netflix.

Me? I pre-ordered the Best Buy exclusive that comes with a bonus action figure, of course.

  1. […] Here’s the link. My main motivation was to raise awareness of the animated films, because if Blood & Iron doesn’t sell well, there won’t be any […]

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