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LIONSGATE

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Tad Stones, Phil Weinstein, Victor Cook
Cast:
Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones
Writing Credits:
Matt Wayne, Kevin Hopps, Tad stones

Synopsis:
Hellboy travels to Japan to fight an ancient demon, and then Hellboy and his team face off against a new supernatural threat while Professor Bruttenholm must investigate the possible reemergence of a vampire he had slain decades prior.

MPAA:
Rated NR.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English Dolby Atmos
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 155 min.
Price: $22.99
Release Date: 4/2/2019

Bonus:
Sword of Storms:
• Audio Commentary with Supervising Producer/Director Tad Stones, Director Phil Weinstein, and Creator Mike Mignola
• “A New Breed” Featurette
• “The Actor’s Role” Featurette
• “A View from the Top” Featurette
Blood & Iron:
• Audio Commentary with Supervising Producer/Director Tad Stones, Director Vic Cook, and Creator Mike Mignola
• “Reversal of Fortune” Featurette
• “Tales from the Tomb” Featurette
• “Iron Shoes” Short
• Blu-ray Copy


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RELATED REVIEWS


Hellboy: Sword of Storms/Blood & Iron [4K UHD] (2006/2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 21, 2019)

Mike Mignola’s anti-hero made the leap to movie screens with 2004’s Hellboy, and he returned with 2008’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army. In between those two live-action flicks, fans got a pair of animated adventures: 2006’s Sword of Storms and 2007’s Blood & Iron.

In Storms, we go to Japan, where a folklore professor becomes possessed by the demons Thunder and Lightning. Along with other members of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD), Hellboy (voiced by Ron Perlman) investigates, and he finds himself launched into a realm of fantasy when he locates the magical Sword of Storms.

With Iron, we learn that Professor Bruttenholm (John Hurt) killed vicious vampire Erzsebet Ondrushko (Kath Soucie) back in 1939. When someone tries to resurrect her, Hellboy and company attempt to stop them.

Is it stupid to criticize a cartoon for being too cartoony? Maybe, but that’s my main problem with these two films: they’re closer to the wacky world of Scooby-Doo than to the darker universe of Hellboy.

Not that the films don’t attempt some form of grittiness, but they seem so “Saturday morning” that they can’t pull off the necessary tone. They come across as insubstantial and… well, cartoony.

Obviously cheap animation hurts matters. While I don’t expect feature-quality work from inexpensive films like these, the bargain basement nature of the animation becomes a major liability – and another reason why these flicks feel like budget TV fare.

On the positive side, the inclusion of all the movies’ leads impresses. Although I can’t claim Perlman, Hurt, Selma Blair and Doug Jones offer great work, the simple fact they show up at all lends credibility to the project.

Unfortunately, most of the other voice actors give us that nagging Saturday morning feeling. These are the kind of performances you’ll find in a million animated kid shows, and they don’t blend well with the folks from the live-action features.

Given that the films include the live-action leads, one might think that the supporting actors don’t matter. However, both movies spend more time with those performers than the main characters, so their iffy performances overwhelm the others.

Sword and Iron really do walk an uncomfortable line between “youth-friendly” Hellboy and the character’s grittier tone in movies and comics. I get the impression the producers wanted to dumb down Hellboy for the kiddies but they waffled and ended up with films that satisfied neither audience.

Of the two films, Iron fares better. Its vampire story lacks originality, but it seems moderately watchable as it follows a mix of predictable paths.

On the other hand, Sword just feels like a mess. Its narrative rambles and meanders without much obvious purpose and winds up as little more than a collection of supernatural vignettes without coherence.

Even with better scripts and stories, though, Sword and Iron would falter due to production elements. Between cheap animation and too much weak voice acting, these movies become silly disappointments.


The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Hellboy: Sword of Storms/Blood & Iron appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Due to the nature of the source, these movies offered inconsistent visuals.

As I mentioned in the body of my review, the films looked like they spent about $26 on animation, and this led to visual anomalies. At times, sharpness seemed pretty good, but more than a few slightly soft spots emerged as well, so the end product could be iffy.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. The films lacked any source defects.

The movies tended toward subdued colors, and the hues seemed decent. We didn’t get a lot of life from them, and though the HDR added zing to the occasional brighter hues, the overall impact of the colors remained mediocre.

Blacks were fairly deep and dense, while low-light shots tended to appear somewhat thich and opaque. Cheap animation brought us less than impressive picture quality.

In addition, the product’s low budget led to Dolby Atmos soundtracks that failed to excel, though the audio worked better than the visuals. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the soundscapes never really impressed, but they occasionally kicked to life.

As expected, action scenes brought out the most evocative elements, as those used the various channels in a mostly involving manner, and music filled the speakers as well. A lot of the time, though, the audio lacked much ambition, an artifact of the previously mentioned low budget, so don’t expect particularly involving soundscapes.

Audio quality worked fine. Speech remained concise and natural, without edginess or other concerns.

Music sounded lively and fill, while effects brought pretty good range and impact. Nothing here really impressed, but the audio seemed satisfactory.

A bunch of extras appear, and when we view those for Sword, we start with an audio commentary from supervising producer/director Tad Stones, director Phil Weinstein, and creator Mike Mignola. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, animation and art, cast and performances, music, connections to the comics, and connected domains.

This turns into a strong commentary. We get a nice overview of all the involved topics and learn quite a lot about the production in this brisk, involving chat.

Three featurettes ensue, and A New Breed runs five minutes, 21 seconds. It includes Stones, Mignola, character concept designer Sean Galloway, and character designers AJ Jothikumar and Greg Guler.

“Breed” discusses the character redesigns for the animated films. We get some decent thoughts in this short reel.

Conquering Hellboy fills six minutes, 28 seconds with info from Stones, Weinstein, creative producer Guillermo Del Toro, and actors Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Peri Gilpin, Phil La Marr and Doug Jones. We learn about cast and performances during this reasonably informative program.

Finally, A View from the Top goes for five minutes, 26 seconds and offers material from Stones, Mignola, Del Toro, background designer Ed Ghertner, storyboard artists Jennifer Coyle and Nathan Chew, prop designer Arthur Lee, and writer Matt Wayne.

“Top” covers aspects of one particular movie sequence. It becomes another useful featurette.

As we shift to the extras for Iron, we find an audio commentary from supervising producer/director Tad Stones, director Vic Cook, and creator Mike Mignola. All three sit together for their running, screen-specific look at the same subjects covered in the Stone track, albeit with a focus on Iron.

Despite some potential for redundant material, this becomes another satisfying discussion. We get a lot of good insights in this fun, engaging piece.

Reversal of Fortune goes for 20 minutes, 24 seconds. It provides comments from Stones and Mignola, but it mostly offers re-edited material from the film.

During Iron, we find a flashback to a young Professor Broom. It comes with an untraditional chronology, so “Fortune” lets us see the scenes a) on their own and b) in order. It’s a nice addition.

Tales from the Tomb goes for 12 minutes, 59 seconds and provides remarks from Mignola, Del Toro, Stones, Guler, executive producer Lloyd Levin, and screenwriter Kevin Hopps.

They discuss story/character areas as well as visual design and animation. This turns into another informative reel.

Lastly, we get Iron Shoes, a three-minute, 42-second piece introduced by Mignola. We then see a short animated sequence in which Hellboy battles an Irish demon. It becomes a watchable little sequence.

The package also includes a Blu-ray copy of the movies. It lacks any of the 4K UHD’s extras.

As a bridge between Hellboy’s first two cinematic releases, Sword of Storms and Blood & Iron offer inconsistent entertainment. Neither seems poor, but neither become better than average, either. The 4K UHD offers erratic visuals along with pretty good audio and supplements. These animated adventures disappoint.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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