Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Marvel Media Mania: Planet Hulk

Planet Hulk is the 2010 direct-to-DVD animated feature inspired by the comic book storyline of the same name.
Let's cut to the chase: This is the best Hulk EVER. You heard right. This is the Hulk done properly! This film had to walk a very fine line between staying faithful to the Planet Hulk storyline and becoming too confusing for new fans. It did so brilliantly and in the process set a new high bar for the Hulk.

The Hulk presented in this film may be a bit different than what you're used to - this Hulk has a brutish intelligence, can speak, plan strategy, and uses a sword. This Hulk is also brutally savage, reflecting the alien world he finds himself on. The Hulk's journey is one of going from being a loner to finding a place where he belongs, even if it's with a band of misfits.

You can really tell that the creators cared for the characters, the original story, and the comics in general. The storyline very closely follows the Planet Hulk comics with only a few minor tweaks to streamline and simplify the story. One such tweak was replacing the Silver Surfer with Beta Ray Bill, a much more obscure character. But it turns out to be a great choice because it ties the Thor flashback into the storyline nicely. There are also tons of cameo appearances that longtime fans are sure to notice by characters like Adam Warlock, Pip, Gamora, and Starlord.

The action sequences are fantastic. The animation is incredibly well done. You can tell that each fight was carefully choreographed. With so many characters, it would be easy for the fights to drag on or to lose characters but each one is unique and moves the story forward. Major characters die and you feel shocked and sorry for their loss.

The last thing you'd expect from Planet Hulk is emotional impact but this film has two, both concerning Caiera. The first is when she cuts down her Spike-infected parents to protect her younger sister only to discover her younger sister was also infected and would have to be killed as well. That was really shocking for me to see! The second was when Caiera tries to redeem her earlier failure by saving another young child. She succeeds only to have a Nuke dropped on the city which she is able to survive but the child in her arms is turned to ash and blows away. Wow! That sequence left my jaw on the ground!

The writing is simply top notch. There are a lot of major character in this film and each is given his own unique motivations, personality, and storyarc. Caiera tries to rectify the good thinks the king has done to the bad she sees him do. The Hulk struggles with being accepted. Korg is tortured after having to kill his brothers. Miek transformers from a "runner" to a fighter. Laven struggles with religious faith. Elloe has to learn to trust her new friends. These characters are woven together in a beautiful narrative.

I can't think of one negative thing to say about this film. It's a must see and comes with my highest recommendation even if you're not a Hulk fan.

1LR Review - 20 out of 20! It's a Critical Hit!

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