HELLBOY: SWORD OF STORMS
Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
What's it about
Hellboy, in his first animated film, takes on mysterious demons from Japan who take possession of a folklore professor and reek havoc upon the world.
Is it good movie?
What’s great about having an animated comic book movie is that fans not only see their beloved characters in situations that film could never attempt and incorporate characters not suitable (i.e. interesting enough) for the big screen, but, let’s face it, give the audience their fix. Simply put, film takes too long and costs too much. By turning out animated movies, it keeps the character alive for non-readers. I for one can’t believe studios haven’t taken full advantage of fans by spitting out faithful versions of comics on DVD. Use existing storylines. Use existing art styles. Turn great comic stories into great animated movies. If done correctly – in the tone and style of the comic – fans will come and pay.
With that said, Hellboy: Sword of Storms fills this need. With the primary cast back to voice (Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones), it doesn’t feel like a radical departure from Guillermo del Toro’s version. Perlman is especially essential. He’s become Christopher Reeve (a loose connection, people) in the sense that no one could replace him. He’s perfect, and it’s the voice that works. While Blair and Jones work and would be missed, make no mistake; this remains Perlman’s show. He’s voice is ripe for animation and he breathes life into the character in the same manner Kevin Conroy did with Batman: The Animated Series. Without Perlman, Hellboy: Sword of Storms wouldn’t be worth mentioning.
What’s great about Hellboy’s first venture into animation emerges from that it stays true to the original source, mixing mystery, government agencies, Japanese mythology, other worldly dimensions, massive ugly beasts, and, of course, bad attitudes. Everything minus the tone. This is Hellboy light. It removes any true feeling of danger and darkness from the story. The producers seemingly attempted keep the tone (Hellboy does battle headless warriors, zombies, and demons) and avoid this being another sappy kids flick, but it’s still lacking that perfect tone. And, more importantly, Mignola’s art; it baffles me that a decision could be made not to use his art style. It’d be like doing the Simpson’s without Matt Groening’s pencils. Hellboy isn’t Batman or Spiderman with thousands of artist’s interpretations. There’s one. Mignola. Without his renderings Hellboy: Sword of Storms seems light. It’s close, very close, but not quite there. I’d love to see another attempt, something darker. After all, if this is produced by del Toro and Mignola and kept the creative talent, why not take it to a level where film does not allow. Perhaps this is just this fan boy’s dream. Either way, if you dug the film, you’ll dig Hellboy: Sword of Storms, despite all my ridiculous complaints.
Video / Audio
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Full Frame
Note: No opinion on the extras, advance copies don't include them.
To Hell and Back: How Mike Mignola created Hellboy.
A New Breed: Creating the new Hellboy.
A View from the Top: The "Heads" sequence.
Keepers of Hellboy: A Comic Con 2006 Panel Discussion.
Audio Commentary: Features Mike Mignola, Tad Stones, and director Phil Weinstein.
Hellboy Goes East: A revealing look at many of the inspirations, backstories, and secrets of Hellboy: Sword of Storms.
A pretty decent first attempt at animating Hellboy. It's close, but isn't quite up to par with the film or the comic.