Thursday, February 4, 2010

PLANET HULK

As a fan of action-adventure animation and comic books (hell, I've even been known to write a few), I always look forward to the animated features that have been coming with some regularity from Warner Animation/DC Comics and Lionsgate/Marvel. I've enjoyed most of the Warner/DC flicks, but with the exception of NEXT AVENGERS, I've found the Marvel ones to pale beside their competition's efforts. I'm not entirely sure what it is - they're decently produced - I guess I just haven't found the stories to be particularly interesting or compelling.

The latest Lionsgate/Marvel animated feature draws from a popular storyline from the comics, PLANET HULK. In this spacefaring swordplay saga, several of the Marvel Universe's most powerful heroes take it upon themselves to rocket the uncontrollable, unstoppable, rage-fueled jade behemoth into space. He crashes on an alien planet right out of the interplanetary romances of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is immediately pressed into slavery as a gladiator. True to the classic traditions of heroic fantasy adventure, it isn't long before the Hulk is leading his fellow slaves in a righteous revolt against the obligatory planetary tyrant.

I can't say how the adaptation compares to the original comics (I haven't managed to get my hands on the expensive hardcover collection yet), but despite the familiar plotline, I found PLANET HULK to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Design, animation, voice acting, music - all are very well done, and the script is intelligent and witty. I happen to be a fan of the character, and I found his portrayal and visual design in PLANET HULK very appealing. It's good stuff.

The movie is available in several DVD configurations and on Blu-Ray, but I got my hands on the single-disc DVD edition. The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer is - unsurprisingly - excellent, and the 5.1 Dolby Digital audio is clear and robust. Bonus features on this edition include an audio commentary by Supervising Producer Joshua Fine and screenwriter Greg Johnson, a teaser for the forthcoming THOR: TALES OF ASGARD animated film, a "Making Of" featurette, and trailers for other Lionsgate/Marvel titles.

So, yeah, I liked it. Good direct-to-disc animation featuring one of my favorite comic book characters in one of my favorite fantasy genres. If you dig super-hero cartoons and the Hulk in particular, you'll probably enjoy the hell out of it. Recommended.

BUY: Planet Hulk