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  Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms Japanese Jaunt
Year: 2006
Director: Phil Weinstein, Tad Stones
Stars: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Peri Gilpin, Dee Bradley Baker, Keith Ferguson, Yuriana Kim, Clyde Kusatsu, Phil LaMarr, James Sie, Mitchell Whitfield, Gwendoline Yeo
Genre: Animated, Fantasy, TV MovieBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Representatives of The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, Liz Sherman (voiced by Selma Blair) and Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) are investigating an underground temple when Abe steps on an apparently innocent paving stone which triggers a wall to lift open, revealing a line of ancient mummies standing motionless there. The duo are actually a trio and wonder where the third member of their party, good guy demon Hellboy (Ron Perlman), is when he bursts into the chamber in combat with a huge bat creature that doesn't know when it's beaten. As Abe and Liz regard this, the mummies spring to life and advance, with the agents' bullets proving to have no effect. With Hellboy getting nowhere with his assailant, and his friends surrounded, there's only one thing to do: Liz must use her powers over fire to save them.

And so commences the first animated Hellboy TV movie, taken from the comic book by Mike Mignola, who wrote the story for this with co-director Tad Stones (he scripted with Matt Wayne). In an attempt to cash in on the popularity of the big screen version, some of the same voice actors are used, with Perlman and Blair returning and Jones getting to use his own voice, which he didn't in the original film. Despite this, they don't make the characters come alive as they did before, and this incarnation of the hero and his assistants is more of a generic cartoon adventure - it's good that they didn't use this story for the film version, as it falls flat on the whole, with whatever ambition it has somewhat muted.

The main plot is nothing to do with mummies or giant bats, but all to do with a sacred Japanese sword that a Professor is reading up on, and wouldn't you know it, he's found a special scroll to illuminate the legend. A scroll which inadvertently transforms him into a slavering monster into the bargain, and sets the Bureau onto discovering what exactly is going on. While looking around the Professor's office, Hellboy happens to pick up the sword and is transported to medieval Japan, where he encounters a variety of ghosts, creatures and tasks, which is all much of a muchness. Meanwhile, his colleagues track down the Professor and have the effects of two thunder and lightning demons to contend with. If you enjoy Saturday morning animation Sword of Storms should be entertaining, but it's never anything more than that, and fails to capture Mignola's distinctive style of artwork. Music by Christopher Drake.

[Anchor Bay's DVD has a host of extras, with featurettes galore and an audio commentary with Mignola and the directors.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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