Talk about a great Saturday night! A double feature of HELLBOY cartoons I haven’t seen since their release!
Both stories were written by HELLBOY creator Mike Mignola, and directed by Tad Stones, whom Mignola world with on various Disney projects. I found the Disney connection quite interesting, as the entire time I was watching the movies, I found myself almost certain that the team of animators must have been the same team that worked on Disney’s Gargoyles cartoon, right down to the millionaire in Blood & Iron, Oliver Trumbolt (don’t get me started on his similarities to Donald Trump) looking overly similar to the Gargoyles main antagonist, David Xanatos. After a bit of a deep dive, I can’t find any overlap in the animation teams, so the similarities in art style are most likely going to drive me nuts.
Sword of Storms is an original story by Mignola, taking place in Japan, focusing on themes of Japanese culture, honour and disgrace, and reverence for spirits of the past. It’s a great storyline, with Hellboy saving the day.
Blood & Iron is partially based on a storyline from the original comics, Wake the Devil, which is based on serial killer Erzebet Ondrushko, aka Countess Elizabeth Bathory of Hungaria. This movie has the feeling of a redemption story for Hellboy’s father and mentor, Professor Bruttenholm, who won’t divulge his worries about this mission to his team until after they arrive at their destination.
Both movies feature the original movie’s actors which do bring some charm to them, but not enough to carry them; in more than a couple of scenes, it felt like Doug Jones, whom always seems to be a consummate professional, was speaking in the voice of someone other than Abe Sapien, which threw me off each time I noticed it. Selma Blair and Ron Perlman seemed just as into their roles as voice actors as they do in the movies.
All in all, these two movies are a good time, especially if you haven’t seen them since their original release, or to share with kids who weren’t around when they first came out. The stories are solid and the subject matter for both are interesting. HELLBOY ANIMATED: SWORD OF STORMS AND BLOOD & IRON is now available on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray and Digital).