Hellboy Blood and IronA long time ago, a much younger Professor Broom banded together with the local Transylvanian constabulary and brought down the infamous Erzsebet Ondrushko, a vampiress who bathed in the blood of young women and was a loyal follower of Hecate, Goddess of the Underworld.

Of course, as vampires go, permanently getting rid of them is never a sure thing and when the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD) is called in for a routine haunting in the Hamptons, Long Island, Professor Broom gets a sinister premonition and ends up taking top BPRD agents, Hellboy, Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien along for the ride.

Unfortunately for Hellboy though, as per usual, this isn’t going to just be another walk in the park job for him. Even if it isn’t Erzsebet that is causing all the ruckus, then there is another, more powerful figure watching from the shadows, poised to entice the Demon back to where he belongsā€¦ even if his true destiny includes the bringing forth of Armageddon itself!

Hellboy: Blood and Iron is a 2007 direct to DVD animated movie, the second movie from the Hellboy Animated franchise (based on Mike Mignola’s seminal comic book series, Hellboy) and follows on from the surprisingly good Hellboy: Sword of Storms movie that was released back in 2006. It is once again written and directed by veteran Disney alumni, Tad Stones, with some help of the legendary Mike Mignola of course, and as with the last outing, all the stars from the 2004 live-action movie return to voice their respective characters, namely Ron Perlman as Hellboy, Selma Blair as Liz Sherman and Doug Jones as Abe Sapien.

This time around it is vampire lore that gets used as the story’s main vehicle which unfortunately immediately limits the story to the set and accepted vampire genre guidelines. We have stakes, sunlight and the ever present holy water, all of which leaves very much a taste of been there, done that in one’s mouth when watching this movie. As with Sword of Storms, Tad again goes for the forking storyline approach, except he tries to shake it up a little by inserting frequent flashbacks in reverse order which shows a younger Professor Broom in action and aims on expanding the current storyline a little bit.

Unfortunately, this forking of the main storyline and the frequent flashback material takes a lot of the flow of the story away and it often feels as if you are trying to watch three or four different movies all at once – and not one of them have anything to do with another! Despite this weakened story, we do get quite a few action sequences to keep us enthralled, and as ever, Hellboy’s frequent quips and one-liners are enough to justify the movie all on its own – though you have to be a Hellboy fan to enjoy it of course.

Honestly, it is not the strongest of storylines and because of the lack of proper flow, this is one movie that ends up not feeling like much of a movie at all – rather just a single longish cartoon is what you are left with. Still, it carries all the elements necessary to make it a good and proper Hellboy story, and as such it will appeal to all those already a fan of our cranky red devil.

Visually, Blood and Iron looks a lot more common than what Sword of Storms did. True it still uses that clean, now fairly widespread animated style that balances simplicity and detail just right and makes for good looking animation which is not overly stylish, but it is in the colouring that if falls a little flat. No special effort to make it stand out, no special effects to speak of, and in truth, the backgrounds and colouring are just another point to add to that feeling of this simply being a lengthened episode of the usual animated series.

Aurally though, Hellboy immediately raises itself a notch by using the same actors that voiced the characters in the live-action movie, making for a great tie in with the rest of the Hellboy ‘universe’. As it is, all the voice actors do a superb job and together with some great sound effects make for a more than decent listening session. Christopher Drake also makes a welcome return as series composer and provides some great material, leaving us with a score that blends in perfectly with the rest of the movie.

Looking at it as a whole, while Hellboy: Blood and Iron is a competently produced and animated movie, it simply doesn’t seem to have enough newness or substance to let it stand out as a movie as such, and ends up pretty much feeling more like an extended episode than anything else. It feels as if the production house tried to play it as safe as possible and not bring anything spectacular to the table, leaving us with what can unfortunately only be described as a mediocre outing. Sure it has all the charm, humour and elements that you expect from a normal Hellboy outing, but this certainly isn’t the strongest of entries into what can be quite an entertaining universe to dwell in at times.

Rent it only if you are a Hellboy fan and happen to like watching Saturday morning cartoons all morning long.

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Related Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0817910/