Thank you, Revolution Studios and Cartoon Network, for this. In the wake of HELLBOY: SWORD OF STORMS comes this second nifty animated film featuring Hellboy, the resilient and irreverent demon-turned-paranormal investigator. I just saw HELLBOY: BLOOD AND IRON on the Cartoon Network's Toonami block and, in my opinion, it's better than SWORD OF STORMS, more brooding, more pulse pounding, and, yes, even more action-oriented. Hellboy creator and BLOOD AND IRON co-writer Mike Mignola himself, in an interview with IGN Comics, says that it's an improvement over the first as SWORD OF STORMS proved to be a learning process for him and the Hellboy animators. Certainly, we as the viewing audience reap the benefits of a stronger and more focused narrative. The story elements are lifted in a mishmashed manner from the second Hellboy comic book mini-series, WAKE THE DEVIL, to create a new tale. To quote Mignola: "It's not an adaptation so much as it is a re-imagining of the story."
Here come the SPOILERS:
This time out, Hellboy again partners up with fellow B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) agents Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien as they venture to the New York Hamptons to help the aged and nightmare-wracked Professor Bruttenholm (nicknamed Professor "Broom") investigate the calamitous resurrection of Erzsebet Ondrushko, a depraved vampiress who had bathed in her victims' blood to maintain youth and beauty and whom Professor Broom himself had slain back in 1939 (as seen in a lengthy flashback). As per usual, as dire events unfold (and as we discover that Erzsebet is the high priestess of a powerful and malevolent entity), the jeopardy and the stakes escalate until, at the end, Hellboy is again up to his neck battling a formidable serpentine goddess.
As mentioned, HELLBOY: BLOOD AND IRON is the second animated foray into Mike Mignola's dark vision of the grotesque, the fantastic,and the occult. With its TV-14 rating, this certainly isn't intended for the younger kids. It contains enough violence and certain scenes of supernatural terror. The movie unveils several very nice action sequences featuring our favorite B.P.R.D. folks, the highlight of which is the epic brawl staged at the climax. The creatures of Japanese folklore from SWORD OF STORMS are jettisoned here in favor of foes more in line with Mignola's Dark Horse comic book version of Hellboy: skull-faced specters, demonic wolves, a lycanthrope, denizens of Greek mythology, and Hecate, the Queen of Witches herself. Hecate has the added agenda of desiring to place Hellboy back on his proper path of destiny, which in turn will bring about the end of the world for man.
There. That's it for the SPOILERS.
Ron Perlman, as usual, is consistently good as the irascible voice of the titular character ("Oh, crap!"). Selma Blair (Liz), Doug Jones (Abe), Peri Gilpin (Prof. Kate Corrigan), and John Hurt (Prof. Broom) are back to lend feature film cred to this project as they again convincingly flesh out their characters.
The look of the film, in terms of its shadowy moods, is typical Mike Mignola. The animation itself is more than adequate and is even occasionally reminiscent of Mignola's artistic style. There's even a certain kinetic flair to be enjoyed in the vicious skirmishes between B.P.R.D. and its supernatural dance partners. It's hard enough not to be sucked in by the allure of the barrel-chested, spindly legged, not-to-be-trifled-with Hellboy and his gothic milieu. Add in the nicely rendered animation and the appealing voice cast and what you have is a screenful of good times. Do yourself a favor and check out this film. You might even unearth the name of the place which offers the best pastries on earth.