|Review: Planet Hulk
Iíll get right to it - Planet Hulk is very good. I was
able to attend a special screening of the new Planet Hulk
animated feature at the Paley Center in NYC and this movie is so
good, actually, that Iíll certainly purchase it to see it again
when itís released on February 2nd.Return to
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out of the gate, pardon the pun, the story moves along with a
solid pace. Director Sam Liu delivers great action from the very
beginning well through to the end of the film. I was very glad
to see that the action doesnít hold back, and gets kind of
violent as it rightfully should, justifying that these animated
features tell the stories Marvel canít tell on a Saturday
morning. The fights between Hulk and his opponents are very
satisfying and shockingly bloody at times, getting some great
cheers and reactions from the audience.
I thought Planet Hulkís story was very engaging. There
are some great character moments specifically with Caiera, the
Red Kingís lieutenant, that resonate. She gets has a great
backstory and, personally, has some of the most emotional and
effective character beats in the whole film. Hulk and others do
get some great character development as well, but Caiera
definitely gets the richest moments.
Iíll admit that Iím familiar with the Planet Hulk
storyline in the comics but never actually read it. I knew the
basic premise going into this film, yes. but for the most part I
didnít know the actual story. Iím glad I came into the movie
without having read the comics beforehand. First off, thereís a
couple very cool surprises in the story, surprises that Iím not
about to reveal. If youíve read the comics you might know what
Iím alluding to, but the less said the better. I was very
pleasantly surprised and suddenly enthused with the movie when
those couple surprises came along, one of which plays a key role
in the film and is pretty neat.
Seeing the previews prior to viewing the film, I was slightly
turned off by Hulk being thrown into a Gladiator scenario
admittedly. Having seen the film now, I can assure that all the
ďGladiator-ishĒ stuff in the film doesnít feel tired or
boring as I feared it would. Actually, the whole film doesnít
take place solely in a gladiator arena, and actually mixes
things up really nicely, showing a variety of beautifully
designed locales and interiors on the alien planet that Hulkís
finds himself on.
Greg Johnson did a great job writing the script. Aside from the
aforementioned surprises I mentioned earlier that I wonít spoil,
Johnson does a great job bringing up some unexpected moments and
manages to shock you within the context of the story. Itís a
straightforward story, but told skillfully, knowing when to
throw in a twist to jostle the viewer.
In terms of voice work in Planet Hulk, Rick D. Wasserman
voices Hulk and does a pretty good job. Some of his delivery in
the film comes off a bit silly, but that might also be due to
some admittedly goofy dialogue. Hulk dishes out more quips than
you might be used to hearing from him in other films. The rest
of the voice acting is very solid and basically what youíd
expect from Marvelís previous films. Samuel Vincentís voice work
on the alien Miek, who looks very similar to Zorak from
Space Ghost, really makes that character very likeable,
getting some great laughs and reactions from the audience. It
was very apparent the audience grew to really like him as much
as I did as the movie progressed.
terms of the animation itself, itís provided by overseas studio
Madhouse with assistance from DR Movie and MOI Animation. The
animation in the film is very solid. Itís extremely consistent
and stays reliably on model, unlike Hulk Vs. Wolverine
which seemed to deviate off-model toward the end of that
The overall design of the film is what youíd expect from Frank
Paur, whoís continued to deliver some beautifully art-directed
films. This movie has some really fantastic background
paintings, and has some of the best background designs of any of
Marvelís animated features. The planet of Sakaar is just
beautiful to look at, and never gets stale or boring, making it
a considerable achievement given the plethora of repetitive
alien worlds seen in so many different media.
The character designs arenít as distinct and slick as Steve
Gordonís work in Ultimate Avengers or Jeff Matsudaís with
Hulk Vs. Wolverine, but itís still very good. The film
offers up some very cool alien and robot designs, serving up
some well-executed sci-fi designs in that regard. Having said
that, this film doesnít really offer any regular character
design work that feels fresh and different, but rather looks
very similar to what weíre used to seeing in direct to video
animated features over the years.
Overall, the filmís story is so strong that it makes me want to
rush out and read the original comics to see what Planet Hulk
comic scribe Greg Pak had done initially. The real selling point
to the film for me rests on the fact that it tells a very strong
story. It has an abundance of action and set pieces, yes, but
manages to fit all that deftly into a really well put together
story. For comparisonís sake, I would definitely rate this above
Invincible Iron Man and Dr. Strange, and even above
Ultimate Avengers II: Rise of the Panther and Next
Avengers. It manages to combine the great pace of Next
Avengers and deliver on some the heavy subject matter that
definitely earns the filmís PG-13 rating, much like Ultimate
Avengers: The Movie and Hulk Vs.
Without doubt, Planet Hulk comes Highly Recommended.
There are times when this doesnít feel like a Marvel movie,
given the setting and the fact that sometimes the movie focuses
on characters besides the Hulk, but thatís okay. The story is so
strong, and it delivers the Incredible Hulk and some other
surprises so faithfully and satisfyingly, that I did not mind.
Showing a Hulk that we havenít really seen before,
Planet Hulk is honestly one of the most satisfying Marvel
animated features that Iíve seen to date.
-screw on head
for Marvel Animation Age