Hey folks, Valkor here. Yesterday as I'm going through the latest stack of boxes and mail, a little green envelope with no label on it falls from between the pile. My first reaction should have been to freak the hell out, but then I realize, this is the fucking Val-Cave. I can handle this. I carefully open the envelope and a pair of eyes stare back at me. I know those eyes all too well. I've seen em in comic books, seen em in the movies, seen em in animated shit and lo and behold he's back again.
It's the fucking Hulk!
And I had to take a seat because in my hands is "Planet Hulk", the latest Marvel Animated film being put out by Lionsgate. Someone upstairs, in the big geek heavens likes me to have graced my cave with such an offering. I've never read the comics it's based off, but I hear it's pretty bad ass. And the animated film version? Yea. It's equally bad ass.
The story of Planet Hulk (to those who don't know) is as follows: Hulk wakes up, strapped down in a spaceship. An image of Iron Man (Mark Worden) appears along with three others in the background (one looks like Dr. Strange another looks like Reed Richards). Stark tells Hulk (who is eventually voiced by Rick Wasserman) that they can't take his rage anymore, so their sending him to a planet where he can be alone and at peace. But Hulk is seriously pissed, and kicks the shit out of the ship, knocking it off course and crash landing on the planet Sakaar. As soon as he recovers, he's first attacked by bug-like creatures but when guards of Sakaar show up, they implant a device on chest (so he can understand them, and they can control him… sorta) and Hulk is taken prison. He is then made to fight in the Sakaar arena for the amusement of the Red King (Mark Hildreth). And fighting alongside him is Miek (Sam Vincent), Lavin (Michael Kopsa), Hiroim (Liam O'Brien), Korg (Kevin Michael Richardson), and Elloe (Advah Soudack). But when entering the arena, Hulk decides to go another route (He's The Hulk, he's bad ass all by himself), while the others fight the brothers of Krog. The group eventually take the Brothers down with only the loss of Lavin for their side. Hulk only joins the fight when he realizes who is the big man in charge. But before he can confront the Red King a monster is unleashed into the arena, which Hulk takes out with one punch. He then turns his anger onto to the Red King who decides to battle Hulk in this supped up armor. But Hulk is able to bleed the king, who after that one hit stumbles off, only to have Caiera (Lisa Ann Beley) take his place. She stands her ground well... really well. And Hulk is ultimately put down, but not by her hands, the Red King let's her do all the work and takes out Hulk from afar. Heh.
Back in the prison, the survivors – Krog, Miek, Elloe, Hiroim, mourn the loss of Lavin relishing over stories of how they came to be on Sakaar. The one who's story is the most important and coolest of all is Krog who, along with his brothers, went up against Thor and Beta Ray Bill (Paul Dobson), and had their asses (among other rock body parts) handed back to them by the Norse Gods.
This brings us back to the next gladiator match where the people believe the Hulk is the savior of the planet. But is he? Can the Hulk survive his next gladiator matches and ultimately free the people of Sakaar? Does he even want to? And what's up with the Red King and why does Caiera stay by his side, not realizing what a bad person he is?
Oh yea and we get a really bad ass fight between Hulk and Beta Ray Bill. And it's everything you can expect and then some. Hulk vs. Thor? Yea... it's something like that, only better. And now, on with the review, because I don't wanna totally spoil it.
What isn't good about Planet Hulk? First up the animation is frickin sweet! Marvel and co have really raised the bar on this one putting in tons of detail; every scene is a visual treat. Mind you it's not Disney or even anime, but it gets the job done. Plus all the characters match their comic book counterparts quite well. Second, the voice acting. Hulk talks in this one… a lot! And not in that "Hulk Smash!" "Hulk Kill!", etc. He does full sentences a it's almost scary, because I forgot the Hulk can actually talk… when he wants to. Also the remaining voice cast fit their respective characters perfectly. Great job! As for the story, again I've never read the comics, but my understanding that a lot was shaved off, which is good because we get right to the core of why this film is called "Planet Hulk"; we don't waste time with all the backstory, just get right to the action. Third, it's nice to see some depth in Hulk, I mean you really feel his plight and his lonliness in this film. here he is on this new planet and he still feels like a monster. And dude doesn't take orders from anyone, he does what he want, how he wants, when he wants. They tell him to bow? Hell no! They try to make him fight? Not because they make him, because he chooses too. So definitely a nice change to see the Hulk in this manner rather than a mindless wrecking machine. Finally the action! It is fucking tight and no holds barred. People get killed, the Hulk bleeds, Beta Ray Bill gets his faced turned into hamburger, a little girl turns to ash in the arms of Caiera (one of the most emotional scenes in the film), Lavin is stabbed to death, and bug creatures are squished to goo. It's all here and then some. I mean we get to see the Hulk really unleash in this one, more so than I've seen in past films. I'll even take it a step further – Planet Hulk puts both live action films to shame, because this is how you do the Hulk right. Oh damn I almost forgot, the end credits. Yea stay for that because you get to see the original character artwork, which really makes me wanna seek out the comics.
Though we get to see Hulk free the beast all over this film, we never really see him go savage. I know it may not follow along with the comic, but to see different levels of Hulk, especially when he gets really pissed off, would have been a real treat. I mean he was really pushed to his limits, I would have thought any minute "Savage Hulk" would appear. Yea its nitpicky, but it would have been cool to see it. Oh and though we don't get all the backstory of Hulk gettin kicked off of Earth, we should have gotten a montage at least that leads up to Hulk being banished.
Did I mention Beta Ray Bill's face being punched into hamburger? Ok maybe not that gruesome…. But DAAAAAAAAMN!!!
Overall Planet Hulk is a must buy when it's released on DVD and Blu Ray Feb. 2nd; it's an excellent story, well animated, and loaded with action. And I hope we get to see more animated features such as this that pull directly from the comics. How about the Mutant Massacre? Punisher vs. Nick Fury? I'll even take the Spider-Clone saga (that's right I said it!). This is a well only now being tapped and I hope Marvel (and DC) dip into it more often. Out of TOV 5 stars, I give Planet Hulk 5 stars perfect! And it's been Valkor tested and TOV approved.