Planet Hulk ~ Up front, while I know the gist of the story that comprises this animation based on the Marvel Comics event of a few summers back, I did not actually read the comics, so for the most part this is pretty new to me. For those without a comics background, “Planet Hulk” was originally written by filmmaker/comic book writer Greg Pak and illustrated by Carlos Pagulayan.
Here’s the story – Earth’s heroes, continuously unable to stop the Hulk and his rampages of destruction, put him in a rocketship and blast him into space where he lands off-course on a world that has been praying for a champion/savior. Guess who fits the bill? That’s right, ol’ Greenskin. It plays from there.
Hulk becomes a gladiator along with other alien refugees called the Warbound and much of the first half of the flick has them fighting generic opponent after opponent – except for Beta Ray Bill. Effort is put into making the Warbound sympathetic and give them depth but for me, it never happens. I zone out when the Hulk isn’t on screen.
One intriguing aspect of the story is the educational curve that transforms our gamma-irradiated hero from “Hulk smash” to “I learn.” It’s never referenced directly but it’s obvious, and even a bit frightening as the Hulk gets smarter. It is a bit of a mix of savage dumb green Hulk meets gray evil Hulk, but without the charm or wit.
Carlo Paulayan’s art translates well to the simple animated style used in Marvel’s features. His style, flavor and action blend well with the animation, and most importantly look like the pages come to life. But again, having not actually read the comic, I can’t really comment on Greg Pak’s writing and if Greg Johnson’s screenplay really does it justice. I’m guessing it does as Johnson is a longtime veteran of Marvel animation, new and old.
For the fanboys, cameos are also made by Iron Man and the Illuminati, and old school Thor. Look quickly or you’ll miss Adam Warlock, Gamora and Pip the Troll, Star-Lord, and the Grandmaster. The Silver Surfer who played heavily in the comic version sadly could not be used due to rights issues. In his place is the far more interesting (in my opinion at least) Beta Ray Bill.
Like previous entries from Marvel’s animated direct-to-DVD features, Planet Hulk is highlighted by a superior score from Guy Michelmore. This composer is amazing. I wish a compilation of his work or better yet the actual soundtracks were available to buy. You’d have sales here at the very least.
As an added bonus on the DVD there is a preview and the opening sequence of the next animated feature Thor: Tales of Asgard. Yes, it is a tale of teen Thor, not as out of continuity as one might think, but it looks not only marvelous, but fun as well. Honestly I enjoyed these few minutes more than I did all of Planet Hulk.
Planet Hulk isn’t bad, but it’s not your average Hulk tale either. Okay for a rental, recommended for the comics crowd, but really it’s no big deal. For some better Hulk animated try this.