Thursday, February 4, 2010

Movie Review - Planet Hulk (animated)

This 2010 direct-to-dvd animated action film is based on the 2006 Incredible Hulk comicbook storyline of the same name that ran throughThe Incredible Hulk issues 88-95. Basically, all Bruce Banner (human alter-ego of the Hulk) ever wanted was to be left alone, alone with his thoughts and self-pity to what he had become. So a few of his "friends" decide to trick Banner when he's Hulk form and send him to an uninhabited planet where his rage and anger would no longer endanger people. However, when the Hulk discovers their lies, he destroys much of the spaceship he's in, altering it's course and sending him to the planet Sakaar, a type of alien gladiatorial Rome. For the first time in his life, the Hulk is no longer the strongest and is quickly made a slave. Along the way he meets some new warriors that battle alongside him and finally finds a place where he's no longer considered a monster but rather quite possibly, a savior.

Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Incredible Hulk character first appeared back in 1962 in The Incredible Hulk #1. The character has then appeared in numerous forms of media, from the 1970's television series, to the 1996 animated tv show, to the 2003 Hulk movie to it's 2008 reboot, The Incredible Hulk. However, this new animated movie is new because it's the first time one of Marvel's characters has portrayed in one of the characters modern comic storylines. From Spiderman to Batman, to the Fantastic Four and Superman, all those movies are based on the fundamental iconic comicbook storylines of the characters from the 80's, 70's even 40's. However, the Planet Hulk storyline is relatively new and was used to take the Hulk persona to new heights and character ramifications, an almost reinvention from the slow dumb unhappy Hulk, to the cunning, warrior-king Hulk who has found peace. How he got to that point is the storyline in this dvd.

I'm not a fan of many of the comicbook animated direct-to-dvd movies. They always feel catered to kids (which of course they are), with minimal blood and violence, even if the actual storylines have more mature themes. All that's fine for the target audience, but I've always felt left out from enjoying some of my favorite comicbook character storylines. However, everything changes with this film, which thanfully feels more PG-13 than PG. What I liked so much about the Planet Hulk animated movie is that while great for fans of the comic series, you don't have to have known any previous Hulk backstory to enjoy the movie. It's set up well enough that the movie stands on it's own, and yet it's an almost direct representation of the comic (with naturally, a few things taken out). There's epic battles, action, drama, death, destruction, redemption and did I mention death? Yeah, lots of that. Everything that makes a great comic is all represented here in it's animated glory. The animation is crisp, the dialogue terse yet fitting, everything just feels so fluid that I don't really have anything bad to say about it. It's at a perfect length, 81 minutes, and ends on such a perfect note, hinting at many more stories yet to comel.

While the film may not be for everyone, if you enjoy watching the live-action comicbook films, I do believe you'll really get a kick from watching the Planet Hulk movie. Since this a more modern storyline in the Hulk comicbook, many viewers have never seen a Hulk story like this. I know when I read it back in 2006, I was completly blown away by the new heights they took one of my favorite charcaters. Even better, this is pure Hulk, with his alter ego, Bruce Banner, never making an apperance. While I do enjoy Bruce Banner at times, since he can show some of the human moments (empathy, humanity, etc), what I like best about Hulk is when he smashes things, and damn if he doesn't smash things in Planet Hulk. If like me you thought the other recent animated comic book movies were bland, definitly check this one out because I can promise you, you've never seen Hulk like this before.

On a side note: The director of the film Sam Liu has stated that if this film sells well, there's hope for the Planet Hulk sequels being animated that include World War Hulk and the now ongoing storyline, Fall of the Hulks. Let's hope we can see some more animated Hulk goodness in the near future.

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