Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Hellboy Animated: Blood & Iron

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know the routine by now, I watch a movie and blog about it.  This timeout, I'm finishing off the Hellboy Animated films with Blood & Iron.  This is in my notes at March 2, 2019.

While I was writing this up, I thought I'd go and make sure that Tad Stone's production blog about the making of the Hellboy Animated films was still up and running, and lo and behold, it is -- with a new entry!  The most recent entry was in 2017.  As Stones wrote, with the announcement of the reboot (which now comes out in a few weeks, or may even be out by the time I transfer this to my blog), there'd been a renewed interest in the Hellboy animated films.  Stones reveals that they had been planning as many as seven of these films.  In fact, this second one ends with a post-credits stinger for the un-produced third film, The Phantom Claw, which would have introduced Hellboy character Lobster Johnson.  At the time, Stones said production of more films rested on how well Hellboy II performed at the box office.  But now that 10 years have passed, Stones was a little more upfront.  The truth was there was an ownership change of the studio making the film, and the new management didn't have much faith in the project.  So, they shut it down.  Meaning the final installment of Hellboy Animated was this second film, Blood & Iron.

Once again, they pull in some heavy hitters.  Joining the voice cast this time out, and reprising his role from the live-action films, is acting legend John Hurt as Hellboy's father figure Professor Broom.  One entry I do remember from Stones' blog is directing Hurt in the recording booth, saying just how in awe he was of Hurt's talent.  The story he tells is, after a take, he gives his notes to Hurt, and Hurt just goes, "I hadn't thought doing it like that.  Give me minute."  Hurt takes a moment to process the note, Stones starts fearing he'd pissed off Hurt, but after a silence, Hurt just goes, "OK, I'm ready," and proceeded to knock it out of the park. 

Again, just great voice acting all around in this film.  James Arnold Taylor as the young Professor Broom.  Taylor is best known for voicing Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and on that show, I always found Taylor's Obi-Wan voice so similar to Ewan McGregor that there was a bit of an uncanny valley thing going on.  Taylor does the same stellar job here, as his young Professor Broom voice really does sound like John Hurt, just pitched up a bit to sound younger. 

And Kath Soucie, who voiced a hell of a lot of enchantresses in the 1990s, does a sinister turn on that voice as our villainess Erzebet Ondrushko.  But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

These films almost have a James Bond quality to them, as they open with Hellboy wrapping up his latest mission, beating the bejebus out of some monster.  Once that's done, we open with our daily briefing.  The boss is about to pass off one assignment to a rookie.  They all dismiss it as nothing, and they're doing it as a favour to a senator.  A new hotel is about to open up, and it's rumoured to be haunted, so the owner (and friend of this senator) wants the BPRD to do a sweep for ghosts.  But this stirs something in Professor Broom, and he insists on taking the assignment, and taking Hellboy, Abe, and Liz with him. 

(And there's a nice little Canada shout-out as the assignment that Abe gets pulled away from is being sent to Lake Okanagon in BC because "the Ogopogo's been sighted again.  This time, he overturned a couple houseboats.") 

Our quartet -- and the rookie -- soon arrive at the hotel and find it haunted to the gills.  Turns out the owner of the hotel was trying to play up the haunted aspect as a gimmick, and as such, has acquired a large collection of artifacts belonging to the legendary vampire Erzebet Ondrushko.  Ondrushko was known to murder young maidens and bathe in their blood in order to remain young and beautiful.  (And yes, in the DVD bonus features, Hellboy creator Mike Mingola acknowledges that she was based on the legends around Elizabeth Bathory.)  This is what made Professor Broom's spider-sense tingle (as it were), as back in the 1930s, he was the one who slayed Erzebet (an adventure we see in a series of flashbacks), and now it appears that Erzebet's disciples seek to resurrect her. 

And thus the race is on, as our heroes comb the catacombs of this old hotel, fighting the various beasties that Erzebet's disciples throw at them, even coming face-to-face with the goddess of the vampires, Hecate. 

This one is a little stronger than Sword of Storms.  It has a bit stronger plot, and a bit better character work as well.  And as I said before, the animation is still top-notch, and the voice acting is great...everything about these Hellboy animated films was great. 

But sadly, that's all we got.  Well, we got a little bit more.  This DVD also contains an animated short called Iron Shoes, based on the Hellboy one-shot of the same name.  As Mignola explains in the intro, the comic was nothing but action, so he felt it would look better in animation than as a comic.  Hellboy does battle with a British goblin known as a redcap.  It's cute, it's fun, it's short. 

And thus ended Hellboy's animated adventures.  Will we get more?  Will the recent live-action movie reboot lead to an animation reboot?  Only the fates know for sure.

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