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Hellboy: Sword of Storms
DVD disk
02.12.2007 By: Mathew Plale
Hellboy: Sword of Storms order
Director:
Phil Weinstein
Tad Stones

Actors:
Ron Perlman
Selma Blair
John Hurt

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In this animated send-up of the Hellboy comics/film, superfreak Hellboy and company are sent to investigate the demonic possession of a professor of Japanese folklore, only to have Hellboy himself sucked into a dangerous, mythical world.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I’ll just get it over with and lay my cards on the table: I don’t read comic books. I never really “got” them. Therefore, I have never read the Hellboy comics, or even seen the 2004 Guillermo del Toro adaptation. There! So (and don’t expect to hear this from me often, if ever again) take this review however lightly you see fit.

I recognize the filmmakers didn’t exactly set out to make a deeply absorbing movie here—seems to me that their goal was to have a panel at Comic-Con. But seriously, with such a bizarre plot that falls on its face and animation reminiscent of Disney Channel’s worst material (I’m looking at you, Kim Possible!), Hellboy: Sword of Storms is an utterly boring “piece of work” that can only be enjoyed by fanboys and seven-year-olds…MAYBE eight-year-olds, too.

Most of the film seems to be irrelevant events that are more similar to acid trips than they are animation. How else do you explain an Asian women with stretchable necks, talking foxes, umbrellas and sandals with eyeballs, and the cliched acid trip fantasy of spiders crawling on your skin?

Before you mention it, yes, I realize I may be acting “picky” and “unfair” to an ANIMATED film. But Hellboy is so outlandish that I declare ‘fair game.’

I do give credit to Selma Blair, Ron Perlman, and others for lending their voices after appearing in the 2004 film. But then again, what else is Perlman going to be doing with his career? He looks like Gary Busey gone wrong…that’s right, Gary Busey gone WRONG.

The shaky animation, action that’s boring even for a STV release, and corny one-liners make for quite a long 77 minutes—an otherwise perfect length for TV and to keep you entertained while you chomp on a PB&J sandwich.

Maybe I could appreciate Hellboy: Sword of Storms more if I had better knowledge of the Hellboy series, from comics to film. My rating is SFF: Strictly for Fanboys.
THE EXTRAS
Audio Commentary by creator Mike Mignola, supervising producer/director Tad Stones, and director Phil Weinstein: The guys talk/reminisce about their work like a trio of lifelong friends, which gives a very warm atmosphere to the commentary. You’ll find much of the information spread throughout the features, so if you want to hit it all (plus more) in one shot, the commentary’s great.

To Hell and Back - How Mike Mignola Created Hellboy (9:48): This featurette is little more than an ass-kissing contest disguised as a tribute to creator Mignola. Christ, people, he’s not Stan Lee!

A New Breed - Creating the New Hellboy (5:20): Short yet sweet look at who came on board to create Sword of Storms and how they had to redesign the characters. Actually quite interesting to see how they completed some scenes.

Conquering Hellboy – An Actor’s Role (6:27): Here we have studio footage mixed with interviews with the cast, mostly about how difficult voicing their characters was and problems that arose. Snoooozzeeee.

A View from the Top (5:25) focuses on the “Heads” sequence in the film, and how its inspirations drew directly from the short comic book of the same name. The contributors illustrate (verbally) the similarities…you know, for those interested in the glowing eyes of the floating heads.

Hellboy Goes East (10:50) is a 4-part look at several aspects of the film. From Origins of Japanese folklore and Tale Spin (those damn spiders!) to Prop Prefecture of the more-detailed-than-you-might-think props and Samurai Songs, a mildly interesting look at the creation of the synthesized score by Christopher Drake.

note: The Hellboy Goes East featurettes can all be found in the Follow the Fox feature that can be run with the film. A ‘fox icon’ will appear in the corner of the screen that will allow you to access these particular features.

Keepers of Hellboy (42:30) is an informative and extensive discussion from the 2006 Comic-Con. Matt Wayne, Sean Galloway, Mike Mignola, Phil Weinstein, Guillermo del Toro, and Tad Stones all contribute to stories about the making of Hellboy: Sword of Stones. A Q&A session could have sped this one along, but it’s still entertaining.

Also included are Previews and DVD-ROM features that include weblinks, storyboards, and all kinds of fun stuff!

The final (though first for many) addition to the set is a 32-page comic, titled “Phantom Limbs.” No doubt if you’re a big enough Hellboy fan to buy this DVD, you’ll be flipping through these pages immediately.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I backed myself up in the actual review, but Hellboy: Sword of Storms is a stiff animated film that serves little purpose. BUT, the target audience will probably love it, and will have a field day with all of the features and the included comic book. So, in that sense, the disc warrants an overall positive rating.
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