Tuesday, June 26, 2007

HELLBOY ANIMATED: BLOOD & IRON

The Elizabeth Bathory legend also makes an appearance in the second and latest of Starz Media’s direct-to-DVD series, HELLBOY ANIMATED: BLOOD & IRON (2007)

Once again, the movie cast of Ron Perlman, Selma Blair and Doug Jones – this time joined by John Hurt – recreate their live action roles in a cartoon thriller that draws its inspiration from Mike Mignola’s acclaimed graphic novel series.

In this one, the B.P.R.D. (Bureau of paranormal Research and Defense) team of good-guy demon Hellboy (Perlman), pyrokinetic Liz (Blair), and fish guy Abe (Jones) are joined by their mentor Professor Broom (Hurt) in investigating a haunted New England mansion that entrepreneurs intend to make into a tourist attraction. Soon the B.P.R.D. team is up to their necks in witches, ghosts and vampires – including one the Professor has battled before.

While I enjoyed BLOOD & IRON, it seemed to be a bit of step down from the first Hellboy Animated feature, SWORD OF STORMS. In fact, it felt rather like one of the better SCOOBY DOO direct-to-vid movies – not bad, but not all that great, either.

The animation is solid and decently designed, and the voice performances are dead-on, but the script seems a little too predictable and formulaic for a Hellboy adventure. With all of the great horror menaces and stories in the graphic novels, we get another New England haunted house and retelling of the Bathory legend?

Starz Media (formerly Anchor Bay) gives HELLBOY ANIMATED: BLOOD & IRON a very nice DVD presentation with a beautiful, perfect 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and robust Dolby Digital 5.1 and Stereo tracks. There’s the usual ton of behind-the-scenes featurettes, an extra cartoon short, an E-Comic, and a commentary track by Mike Mignola, and directors Tad Stones and Vic Cook.

BLOOD & IRON is good, but not great. Hopefully, this is just a sophomore slump, and the next entry will have a stronger and more original story. And since it appears that it will feature one of Mignola’s more imaginative creations – the hero known as Lobster Johnson – I’m very hopeful.

BUY: Hellboy - Blood and Iron (Animated)