Genres / Traits:
Action, Animated Comedy, Animated Feature Film, Animation, Creature Film, Fantasy, Superhero Film,
Dark Horse Comics
A folklore professor becomes unwittingly possessed by the ancient Japanese demons of Thunder and Lightning. But when The Bureau of Paranormal Research & Defense dispatches a team of agents to investigate, a cursed samurai sword sends Hellboy to a supernatural dimension of ghosts, monsters, and feudal mayhem. Now while pyrokinetic Liz Sherman and fishboy Abe Sapien battle one very pissed-off dragon, a lost and cranky Hellboy must find his way home.
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Hellboy Animated: Sword of the Storms is the missing half of the live-action Hellboy movie. Whereas the live-action movie lacked in storyline quality (Hellhound of Regeneration? Really? How did the Catholics ever stop it in the first place?) , this movie feels much more fluid and Hellboy-ish.
After an awesome opening sequence involving flaming Mayan zombies and a HUGE bat, the plot largely shifts to the Eastern Hemisphere. A professor of Japanese mythology is possessed by the demons of thunder and lightning after reading an ancient scroll, but, to come fully into our world, they need to break the sword that slew them long ago. Hellboy, drawn to that very sword, is thrust by it into a pseudo-Japanese world circa-some time ago when Japan was ruled by samurai and a spider-demon-woman that play the lute. Meanwhile, the possessed professor, unable to get to Hellboy and the sword, casts demons into that pseudo world by casting chess-like pieces onto a scroll. These demons include said spider-woman, a zombie resurrecting priest, and the most entertaining group: demons that tell funny stories (oooh, and their heads come off):
Funny Japanese Guy That's Really a Demon: "There once was a man who got a magical box from a mysterious woman. The man was told to never open it, so he hid it, but his wife found it while he was in the field...and when she opened it, do you know what she found? It was full of human eyeballs! And the man dropped dead in the field!"
Hellboy: "Yeah...that was a great story..."
While moving Hellboy fights his way past these obstacles, his coworkers Abe Sapien (the lovable merman) and Liz Sherman (resident pyrotechnic) attempt to prevent the awakening of ancient dragons buried beneath the earth. The dragons are slowly awakening in anticipation of the arrival of the demons of thunder and lightning.
If you like Hellboy (in any form), anime, sly wit, or goodness in general, you might consider picking this up. The ending is a bit disappointing, capped by a mostly predictable fight scene, but doesn't detract from the movie as a whole.
Hellboy Animated: Sword of the Storms -> 7/10 (Would be a 7.5, but MvMMDI forces me to round up and it's not quite an 8.)
- added 03/31/2008, 09:58 AM
Can't wait for the second film. This one is a
nice like morsel to tide me over.
- added 07/30/2008, 10:26 PM
Being a bit of a buff of folklore from various
different cultures, including Japan, I was
extremely impressed with Hellboy: Sword of Storms.
Clearly the writers did their homework. From the
snake-necked women and the spider-lady to the
detached-head vampires and Kitsune Obaa-san (lit.
"Grandmother Fox"), nearly all of the
cultural references were pitch-perfect. The
clothing in the scrolll flashback looked a little
bit Chinese, but not so you'd notice unless you're
irritatingly picky like me, and the two countries
had similar fashions at several points in history.
Thankfully, the art style of the flashback makes
up for it, being very similar to old story-telling
scrolls on display in Japanese historical museums
and shrines. This also gives a better idea of what
the Hellboy comics are like, where the movie was
less successful in doing so, despite Del Toro
taking a very literaly stance in his artistic
interpretation of the characters. Also, having the
movie actors provide the voices was a good choice
for consistency, where some other directors (and
actors) won't do it for budgeting reasons. If you
enjoyed this Hellboy Animated feature, check out
Hellboy: Blood and Iron as well. Hopefully the
recent success of the new movie will prompt
further additions to this series. 10/10