ThwhtGuardian Reviews Planet Hulk
Is Marvel finally out of the animated dog house? Read on to find out! Warning, contains some spoilers at the end.
Ever since I saw the trailer for Marvel Animation's new film, Planet Hulk, I have been excited beyond words. Planet Hulk is a truly amazing story, one of the best Hulk stories ever told, and to see that it was getting an animated film based on it was a dream come true. For the uninitiated Planet Hulk is the epic storyline took up all the Hulk books for over a year, defined the Hulk in ways never seen before and setting the stage for the most epic comic book grudge match the world has ever seen.The basic storyline for this epic event was this:Earth's heroes (specifically a group called the Illuminati) decide the Hulk is too great of a threat to the planet,so they seize upon the opportunity to send him to a distant world where he can no longer hurt anyone and perhaps
find the peace he so desperately proclaims that he wants.During the flight his rage causes the ship to veer off course and instead of the peaceful planet the heroes picked for him he ends up on a violent world full of famine and
baseless persecution. On the planet Hulk is forced to fight through slavery, lead a rebellion he doesn't care about,make friends, find love, and in the end he even eventually becomes ruler of his new found home.
Now if that doesn't sound like the making of a great movie then I think you need your head examined!
I find that when attempting to review a movie it is important to first try and put it in it's proper context.In this case the only comparable animated movie I can think of is Superman: Doomsday. Both of these movies represent the attempts of their respective publishers at adapting the largest and most earth shattering sagas of their characters. With that said I believe Planet Hulk is by far the best comic book adapted animated film ever made.
It has its flaws when it comes to the source material(which I'll go into later), but over all I feel that in comparison to Doomsday, and other movies that were meant to be direct adaptions of comic book stories, Planet Hulk does a far better job at both maintaining the spirit of the source and providing the audience entertainment. So while at times Doomsday feels like something only vaguely inspired by the story it was based on, Planet Hulk feels authentiv through and through.
The story and script written by Greg Johnson and Craig Kyle is iron clad, everything flows so well together and the pacing is great. There’s never a dull moment from the first second, where we see the Hulk blastedoff into space, to the end credits where we're shown the original art work from the comics them selves.
Just like in the comics themselves we get to see Hulk in a way that we have never seen him before, and it’s an extremely interesting perspective(even though it is never fully explained). Unlike in any other outing the Hulk isn’t just a mindless yelling monster, sure, when he gets pissed off and fights,
he unleashes the fury of his destructive gamma powered strength in every way possible. However, through out it all,his mind is capable of rational thought and he can talk just like everyone else. For the first time on screen we get
an articulate Hulk.
With that said though I don't want you to start thinking it's a snooze fest, because all though the Hulk can now talk he still prefers to speak mostly with his fists! This film, and the comic it is based upon, is basically an animated
version of Conan and the Gladiator...so you can imagine that it's jam packed with some excellent animated violence!
With out going into much detail, I'll say this: The fights scenes in this film are unbelievably insane! Like I said I don’t want to go into the details of what I saw because you need to see it for yourself,just know that the choreography and direction were utterly superb. And although the animation was some what simplistic and uninspiring there was enough devastation and well done action scenes to make it worth while.
Now that I'm through glowing let me spell out some of its flaws.There are more than a few changes that were made when adapting the comic-book for the movie. However, personally I found them to be nothing to fuss over, even though I’m sure several fans out there will undoubtedly complain about them any way. The thing to understand here is the story of Planet Hulk spans a year's worth of comics, and includes dozens of various subplots and intricate details
that make a 1 to 1 translation off the book into an 80 min. animated feature impossible. This is an adaptation, a replication of the original, and like all replications the minor details are often lost. And in this adaptation many
things are indeed lost, too many to go into so I'll just address what I thought to be the big ones.
Warning, spoilers ahead!
First and foremost is the absence of the Silver Surfer.In the comics, Hulk faces off against an enslaved Silver Surfer in the Red King’s gladiator arena. The fight comes off as a gargantuan affair between two beings with enough power to destroy planets.In the movie though, he is instead replaced by Beta Ray Bill
a minor back up character from Thor. As I understand it this omission has nothing to do with the writer's disregard for the source material but is rather a result of some murky legal issues concerning the Silver Surfer.With that said, although it was disappointing to miss out on the throw down from the comics, Beta Ray Bill provided some equally amazing action, and allowed for an expansion of Korg's battle with Thor which was pretty awesome.
The second deviation from the comic that I see giving rise to a lot of complaints is that When the Warbound make their pact,only Hiroim and Korg tell their back stories. Miek never gets to reveal his background. In fact, Miek never gets to do much of anything in the movie. This is a shame because he’s an interesting character that goes through several changes in the comics. The subplots with his queen and his transformation were great. They gave him
depth and purpose. In the movie he’s just a bug thingie that talks like Gollum and gives Hulk a medal.
Lastly, and perhaps the largest glaring change is the ending. In the comics Hulk's saga ends the same way it begins: the Hulk loses his home. The movie however does not. Instead of ending with the Hulk swearing vengeance on Earth the movie ends with Hulk seemingly appointed ruler of Sakaar, adored by the people and with Caiera ready to get it on. It’s a happy ending for the Green Goliath and surprisingly, though it is a gigantic deviation from the source, I totally agree with what the writers did here. It’s like the last act of a Western, no matter how bad it gets for John Wayne you know how it's going to end — the good guy has to win. You have to send the audience home happy. I know that some purists will scoff at the happy ending, but I believe this was the right thing to do for casual fans. After all, unlike the comic where the next issue detailing the return of the Hulk was only a month a way the audience here would have to wait at least a year to see what happens to the Hulk, which seems to long to hold the casual viewers attention.
So, even though I had a lot of issues with the changes and omissions in the movie, I think that it was still well worth watching.The action is great, and even though it contains only a skeleton plot in comparison to the comic, it works well enough on its, creating and entertaining, action packed, peppy pace that is sure to keep you watching. If you’ve read the books then you’re sure to have issues with the movie. In fact, the more you enjoyed the source
material, the bigger your issues will be…unless you realize that there’s only so much you can do in 80 minutes. In that context, the writers did a good job of highlighting key moments of the comics in a severely limited format.
Like Superman:Doomsday, there were so many things that I wish were included, but I understand why they weren’t, and overall although much was missing Planet Hulk maintained the spirit of the comics, and at the end of the day that's all you can really ask for.
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