Hellboy Animated
Sword of Storms

Starring (voice): Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones and Peri Gilpin
Anchor Bay Entertainment UK
RRP: 14.99
Certificate: 12
Available 05 March 2007

When a university professor becomes possessed by the ancient twin demons of Thunder and Lightning after opening a forbidden scroll, the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defence team of Hellboy, researcher Kate Corrigan and psychic Russell Thorne is sent to Japan to investigate the incident. There, Hellboy discovers the Sword of Storms, a cursed samurai artefact that transports him to an alternative supernatural dimension inhabited by evil spirits and grotesque monsters. As Hellboy struggles to defeat the numerous creatures he encounters before finding his way back home, his BPRD cohorts, the pyrokinetic Liz Sherman and the amphibian Abe Sapien find they, too, have their hands full with a variety of monsters that have been unleashed on earth...

Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms sees the latest evolution in the Hellboy franchise as our hero stars in his first full length animated TV movie. This project is the brainchild of the characters original comic book creator, Mike Mignola, and director of the live action Hellboy movie, Guillermo del Toro. So, before you view it, you already know that it has the official thumbs up of the original creator, and director of the movie. And, if that wasn't enough to ensure that fans of both the movie and comic series are drawn to this animated feature, the movie's original actors also provide the voices to this animated version.

It was interesting to hear, on the audio commentary, how the writers had cleaned up some of the Japanese legends in order to get past the censors. One of the Japanese stories mentions a box full of eyeballs (this was testicles in the original text), while another talks of a sea creature that would reach up and stick it's hand up a man's anus and rip out his insides... um... lovely! Thankfully this was left out of this kid-friendly movie.

However, it would seem that no one bothered to check the extras for adult content. Guillermo del Toro manages to say the "F" word twice on the Keepers of Hellboy featurette. Not sure it would have received a 12 certificate if the censors had spotted that. Although, I doubt many 12 year olds will want to watch an interview panel at a comic convention.

Fans of Mignola's original comic book series may spot a nod to his Thunder and Lightning demons from the The Right Hand of Doom graphic novel - both feature in the sketch book at the back of the collection, even though they look very different to the versions that appear in Sword of Storms.

It was also interesting to learn that Abe and Liz originally only appeared in a couple of scenes. The majority of their scenes were added later as the script was running a little short.

Extras are pretty impressive too. These include an audio commentary with Mike Mignola (Hellboy creator), Tad Stones (supervising producer/director) and Phil Weinstein (director); Keepers of Hellboy (42:30 min featurette which is a recording of a panel interview from the San Diego Comic Con; A New Breed (5 min look at the stylistic direction of the animated movie); A View From the Top (5:30 min look at the flying head sequence - which was taken from Mignola's early Hellboy comic book The Right Hand of Doom); Conquering Hellboy: The Actors Role (6:30 featurette that interviews the voice actors); Hellboy Goes East - Prop Prefecture / Origins / Samurai Songs (three short featurettes (2-3 mins each) which cover Japanese prop research, the origins of the Japanese storyline and a look at the Japanese inspired soundtrack); and a collection of trailers for other releases.

Hellboy fans will love this movie, as will children who have never even heard of Hellboy before.

Darren Rea

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