Hellboy: Sword of Storms (DVD)
Directed by Phil Weinstein and Tad Stones
Distributed by Starz Home Entertainment
If ever there was a hero that horror fans could really sink their teeth into, it would have to be Mike Mignola's Hellboy. The character embodies everything that we love. Who doesn't love the proverbial badass who can crack wise while cracking skulls? Those skulls of course belong to other creatures that we've grown to love. We're talking anything from demons to shambling zombies, both of which are prominently on display here for Big Red's debut animated feature, Hellboy: Sword of Storms.
Things start off with a bang as we find our heroes (Hellboy, Liz, and Abe) fending off mummies and a giant bat inside a Mayan temple. The action is fast and furious, and the animation is extremely well drawn and lively. Things simply vibrate off the screen! It's not long until our paranormal investigators are off to the Far East to tango with another band of baddies though things don't go exactly as planned. Before you know it, Hellboy is lost in another dimension and forced to do whatever is necessary as a means to get back home and save the day. For more on the tale itself and other assorted goodies, allow me to point you to my esteemed colleague Johnny Butane's Hellboy: Sword of Storms review as I mainly want to talk about all the supplemental goodness in store for us fans on the DVD!
For a single-disc release this package is fucking stacked! For starters we get several featurettes, each with a run time of around seven minutes. The festivities begin with the To Hell And Back – How Mike Mignola Created Hellboy featurette. Everyone from Mignola himself to Guillermo del Toro have their moment to sound off about not only where the character has come from but what it's like to play in his universe. Unfortunately, the short runtime kind of sucks the wind out of this extra. Just as things start getting interesting, the credits start rolling. There's a lot to tell about a character with such a history. Here's to hoping they further explore Hellboy's origins on the next animated DVD (yes, there's another one coming).
From here the next few featurettes focus on the process of bringing this animated vision to life. Animation is truly a fascinating process. From the time the characters are designed to when they are voiced is more or less a very long road. Featurettes like A New Breed – Creating the New Hellboy and Conquering Hellboy – The Actors Role allow viewers some valuable insight into what goes into making the best product for fans possible.
Next up we get a closer look at some particular sequences within the feature itself. Trust me when I say that the "Heads" is one bit of ass kicking you won't soon forget. Rich with Japanese folklore, this and other tidbits are an absolute blast to watch and are also very reminiscent of some of The Great Yokai Monster tales. Fans of that particular series of films are bound to see some --ahem-- very familiar faces that they may not have expected to. Way to showcase these goodies with a bit more love.
How many of you out there weren't able to make it to the 2006 San Diego Comic Con? *raises hand* Yep, sucks to be us. Thankfully (at the very least) we get to see the Hellboy panel in its entirety. Clocking in at about forty minutes, every bit of insight and fun is captured for our viewing pleasure. Now, if only we can get someone to film the entire event. Well, except for the fat people who dress up in spandex as an homage to their favorite hero. Those fuckers give me the creeps.
Things are rounded out nicely with a commentary track featuring the two directors and Mike Mignola. Honestly, after digesting the wealth of information given throughout the supplemental material, this almost seems like overkill. Don't get me wrong; it's a great listen, but here is some advice -- check this out a couple of weeks after watching the DVD. It will probably seem a lot fresher.
Hellboy: Sword of Storms is a must own for fans. The feature itself is wall-to-wall action, and the DVD extras deliver every single thing you could ever want to know about how it got that way. Until we get a sequel to the big screen hit, this will tide us over just fine! It's one hell of a good time!
Commentary by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, supervising producer/director Tad Stones, and director Phil Weinstein
To Hell And Back – How Mike Mignola Created Hellboy featurette
A New Breed – Creating the New Hellboy featurette
Conquering Hellboy – The Actors Role featurette
A View from the Top featurette on "The "Heads" sequence
Keepers of Hellboy – A Comic Con 2006 panel discussion
Hellboy Goes East featurette on the inspirations, backstories, and secrets of Hellboy: Sword of Storms
DVD Rom: weblinks, storyboards, and more
32-page comic book created by Mike Mignola
3 1/2 out of 5
4 1/2 out of 5
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