Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Planet Hulk!

As a fan of action-adventure animation and comic books (hell, I've even been known to write a few), I always look forward to the animated features that have been coming with some regularity from Warner Animation/DC Comics and Lionsgate/Marvel. I've enjoyed most of the Warner/DC flicks, but with the exception of NEXT AVENGERS, I've found the Marvel ones to pale beside their competition's efforts. I'm not entirely sure what it is - they're decently produced - I guess I just haven't found the stories to be particularly interesting or compelling.

The latest Lionsgate/Marvel animated feature draws from a popular storyline from the comics, PLANET HULK. In this spacefaring swordplay saga, several of the Marvel Universe's most powerful heroes take it upon themselves to rocket the uncontrollable, unstoppable, rage-fueled jade behemoth into space. He crashes on an alien planet right out of the interplanetary romances of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is immediately pressed into slavery as a gladiator. True to the classic traditions of heroic fantasy adventure, it isn't long before the Hulk is leading his fellow slaves in a righteous revolt against the obligatory planetary tyrant.

I can't say how the adaptation compares to the original comics (I haven't managed to get my hands on the expensive collection), but despite the familiar plotline, I found PLANET HULK to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Design, animation, voice acting, music - all are very well done, and the script is intelligent and witty. I happen to be a fan of the character, and I found his portrayal and visual design in PLANET HULK very appealing. It's good stuff.

The movie is available in several DVD configurations and on Blu-Ray, but I got my hands on the single-disc DVD edition. The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer is - unsurprisingly - excellent, and the 5.1 Dolby Digital audio is clear and robust. Bonus features on this edition include an audio commentary by Supervising Producer Joshua Fine and screenwriter Greg Johnson, a teaser for the forthcoming THOR: TALES OF ASGARD animated film, a "Making Of" featurette, and trailers for other Lionsgate/Marvel titles.

So, yeah, I liked it. Good direct-to-disc animation featuring one of my favorite comic book characters in one of my favorite fantasy genres. If you dig super-hero cartoons and the Hulk in particular, you'll probably enjoy the hell out of it. Recommended.

(This review is cross-posted from DVD Late Show.)


Charles Gramlich said...

I had very high hopes for the Planet Hulk collection and the first three quarters did not disappoint. It started off with a somewhat weakened Hulk and so you could see him challenged in a sword & sorcery way. Later, however, he became a god again and I just couldn't keep up my interest. I'll probably watch the video to see how it looks because there was great promise in this story. I love sword & sorcery stuff.

Kenn said...

I've had a taste of both, and the DVD is enjoyable, but a bit watered down if you've red the story. There's a lot of depth that's been sacrificed for "ease of understanding." I'm looking forward to see if they choose to let it lie, or if not, how they handle the next part.

What really annoyed me was the shorts that were included. Not counting the trailer for "Adventured of Kid Thor" release, watching the "Making off..." really raised my ire a bit. Understanding little things like "Why beta Ray instead of Surfer" was interesting (although I think they could have been a bit more truthful buy saying simple, "we licensed Surfer to another producer and couldn't use him") is the almost smarmy self-congratulatory attitude the producers take during the thing, ever other phrase translating to basically:

"We're sorry, we decided to include hat as well, but aren't we clever on how we filled in the gaping holes it left by rewriting other scenes?!?"

No... you're not cleaver and the fans aren't stupid... we know it's missing.

That' and add in that almost half the making of is the creators of the title sequence ( Yes... just the title sequence )talking about how cleaver they were.

All in all this is something I'd give as a gift to child fan, or a non-hulk fan with the caveat: "If you like this, try the graphic novel collection to see the full story." But, if you've read the actual story... you'll be a bit disappointed.

3 out of 5 (average) for a good try