Tuesday, March 23, 2010

PLANET HULK (2010) - 3/5 stars

Release: 2010
Director: Sam Liu
Writer: Greg Johnson (screenplay), Greg Pak (comic book)
Cast: Rick D. Wasserman, Lisa Ann Beley, Mark Hildreth, Liam O'Brien, Kevin Michael Richardson, Samuel Vincent, Advah Soudack, Michael Kopsa, Marc Worden
Soundtrack: Guy Michelmore
Claim to fame: the latest animated release from Marvel Comics; an adaptation of "Incredible Hulk" #92-105
Rating: 3/5 stars

Condensing a year long comic book story into one 80 minute animated film is no small feat, but the movie adaptation of "Planet Hulk" turned out about as well as I could have hoped.

Sure, it focuses mostly on the action rather than plot; they replaced Silver Surfer with Beta Ray Bill (I presume because Silver Surfer is to have his own animated movie in the near future?); and the exposition is awkwardly crammed into frequent and intrusive flashbacks. But I honestly think I enjoyed watching this film more than I did reading the comic each month.


In "Planet Hulk," the Jade Giant gives Russell Crowe a run for his money

The story is taken straight from the comic books: Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, and a few other of Earth's mightiest heroes like Dr. Strange are fed up with the Hulk's destructive ways. Every time they think Banner's got his alter ego under control, he randomly Hulks out and destroys an entire city (in comic continuity, the Hulk had just recently rampaged Las Vegas).

So, they capture the Hulk and place him on a rocket headed straight for an uninhabited planet where the Hulk will be safe but unable to hurt anyone. Of course, things go horribly wrong: the Hulk's spacecraft is knocked off course and he's sent crash-landing on a fierce gladiator world.


Planet Hulk ain't exactly a top tourist destination,

what with the tentacle monsters and all

It's a bit jarring at first to see the Hulk on a planet where he's no longer "the strongest there is" - several supporting cast members are bigger than him and the Hulkster frequently gets his butt handed to him - but this flick did an excellent job at conveying the sheer, unadulterated rage of the Hulk.

The madder he gets, the stronger he gets and, boy, is it a sight to behold. And many of Hulk's fan favorite moves are feature, like his infamous thunder clap.


Hulk gets his ass kicked a surprising number of times

I have to say that out of all the recent animated movies I've seen from Marvel and DC "Planet Hulk" features the best voice cast. There wasn't a single role that took me out of the film (once you get over how Miek kinda sounds like Gollum) and it even includes Liam O'Brien, a great voice actor whose voice I instantly recognized due to his work in dozens of video games like "Persona 3."

The animation is stellar, although some scenes tended to vary between being heavily shadowed or kind of blurry (I believe to simulate sunlight). Hi-Def Digest's blu-ray review (http://bluray.highdefdigest.com/2601/planethulk.html) complained of frequent color banding and such but my eyes didn't pick up on anything like that.


Hulk's allies are a motley crew of well-animated alien warriors

Really, I've been watching almost all of these superhero animated flicks - like "Green Lantern: First Flight" and "Batman/Superman: Public Enemies" - and "Planet Hulk" is far and away the best of the bunch, and the original story wasn't even my favorite source material.

If you're a fan of the Green Goliath at all then you can't go wrong renting "Planet Hulk." It captures the brutality and fury of the Hulk better than either of the two Hollywood movies, which should prove a special delight for comic book readers.


Whether on Earth or trapped in a distant galaxy, "Hulk is strongest there is!"

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