Studio: Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Marvel Animation
Release Date: February 2nd, 2010
Synopsis: A whole new world of hurt! He was a monster, impossible to control, too dangerous to ignore. So Earth's mightiest heroes exiled him into outer space.
But now the Incredible Hulk crash lands on the distant planet Sakaar, ruled by the tyrannical Red King. Sold into slavery, Hulk becomes the planet's mightiest gladiator—but his new masters get more than they bargained for when he forges a bond of brotherhood with his fellow fighters: crafty insectoid Miek, ruthless rock-man Korg, ex-shadow pirest Hiroim and the noble-born rebel Elloe.
Unlike Earth, the desperate people of Sakaar believe a monster is just what they need. But will the Hulk be the one to save their world...or destroy it?
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Planet Hulk Feature Review
By James Harvey
Considered a modern The Incredible Hulk masterpiece, the “Planet Hulk” comic book
storyline upended our favorite Green Goliath for an epic-length adventure on the
other side of the universe. Stranded on an alien world, he fought to survive and
eventually found his place on the strange new world of Sakaar. And now, Marvel Animation
and Lionsgate Home Entertainment are unleashing a new direct-to-video animated adaptation
of the acclaimed tale. After arguably hitting a series high in quality with
last year’s Hulk Versus, will Planet Hulk reach and exceed expectations
of last year’s green-laced animated smackdown?
The latest Marvel Animated Feature opens with a haunting pre-credit sequence, where we see a
collection of heroes explain - via recorded message - to a restrained Hulk
why he’s currently being shuttled off to a distant planet. Hulk, naturally, is angry and
manages to break free. He disrupts the ship’s navigation and ultimately winds up the
planet Sakaar. The screen then pans to a stunning main titles sequence and we’re off
to Planet Hulk. That, my friends, is a great way to kick off this movie.
We are tossed into the middle of a story, but given enough information that we don’t
feel lost. It grabs you. Even I, who read the original “Planet Hulk” series and
knows the story, was gripped by this great opener.
calling Planet Hulk “intergalactic action of Hulk-sized portions” (as we see on
the back cover to this home video release) isn’t an exaggeration by any means.
We see similar comments like that or “action-packed” tossed around quite a bit,
even by myself, and have expectations that go with it. Piles of current
cartoons could be considered “action-packed,” and it would be the truth.
However, watching something like Planet Hulk reminds you of what
exactly “action-packed” really means. And folks? Planet Hulk overflows
with action and, at times, is crazy violent. Dismemberment, slicing, stabbing
and death are pretty common place here. Given that Planet Hulk is
“unrated,” instead of the usual PG-13 rating bestowed on these direct-to-video
animated titles, this isn’t a shock by any means. It never gets tedious,
though, and, admittedly, it is nice to see Hulk able to really unleash on
Sakaar, something he could never do on Earth.
has read “Planet Hulk” knows exactly what to expect. What you get here
is basically that epic story in condensed form. Some changes have been
made, but they make sense for this 81-minute movie. For those new to the story,
just imagine Hulk in an alien gladiator arena and revel in how awesome that idea
sounds. And, have no fear, the animated feature pulls it off nicely. Somewhat
predictable, yeah, but enjoyable for every single moment of it. An enjoyable
script by Greg Johnson, who’s no stranger to the The Incredible Hulk given his
animation background, helps the film overcome any sense of predictability with
some clever writing and set pieces. Not every character gets the spotlight,
and some do get pushed to the side, but Johnson pours just enough into the main
cast to make you root for each.
Everything comes together nicely here,
and it really seems like the creative teams behind these animated features are
learning from past mistakes and correcting them with each successive movie.
Before Planet Hulk, Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow was probably
the best long-form Marvel Animated Feature in terms of how the story and animation
worked perfectly together, and felt completely fleshed out, never rushed. Well,
I think Planet Hulk may possibly trump it. Nothing feels rushed (amazing
given how condensed this film is from the original comic book version), the story
works with the visuals, and it all seems to work in great cohesion.
perfect, however. Much like with the previous Marvel Animated Features, we do hit a couple
snafus with the animation, but it’s no different than any animated direct-to-video
feature out there today. We get a couple jumpy walk cycles and a few awkward movements of jumpy animation
or poor lip-syncing (particularly noticeable right at the first of the movie, oddly enough),
but it’s nothing that really hampers enjoyment of the film. The animation still looks really
excellent, though. Not as beautifully animated as Hulk Versus was, but the crew here
still hits it out of the park in respect to the other previous animated titles. The lush
backgrounds really deserve bit of praise here. The alien world looks absolutely breathtaking at
times with some incredible looking vistas. And, as I mentioned above, a few characters do get
shortchanged here, but the film manages to successfully overcome those hurdles.
comment on the voice cast, Rick D. Wasserman pulls off a surprisingly effective Hulk. In all
honesty, it is a bit jarring to hear him speak so much in this film, but once you get used to
it, Wasserman pulls off a very noble side to the Hulk that we only see through the character’s
usual grunts and screams. Wasserman can also pull off the traditional “Hulk Smash” moments, but
he also brings a new side to the Hulk that we haven’t really seen in animation. Very well cast. In
watching Planet Hulk, I thought the voice work for the movie was pretty excellent on all
fronts. No real hiccups or odd deliveries, just good work all around.
Now, to briefly
touch upon the film’s score, I feel that Guy Michelmore, who provided the score to
Planet Hulk deserves another solid shout-out. This is his seventh Marvel Animated Features
title and, as no surprise, he keeps knocking it out of the park. His Planet Hulk score is
simply epic and ranks as one of his best. He’s manages to produce consistently good work,
effortlessly adapting to the different settings and characters from each movie, and this
release is no exception. Marvel has found a great thing with Michelmore and I hope they keep him
around for a long time to come. I strongly suggest downloading this score off iTunes or
Thankfully, whether it’s the voice acting, the animation, score or the
story itself, nothing ever feels out of place. It all compliments each other nicely, but I
feel the need to discuss the ending of the film, for just a brief moment.
completely agree with how the creative team ended the movie. The Planet Hulk animated
feature ends much differently than the actual comic storyline. “Planet Hulk” ends with Sakaar
ravaged and Hulk, once again, alone. Seeking revenge, he returns to Earth to seek revenge on
those who sent him there in the first place. Here, in Planet Hulk, the movie ends on a
happy note. Hulk has found acceptance, he’s well revered and has found love. To me, this
ending works on two levels. The first is that, finally, Hulk wins. After being hunted for
years upon years, he finally wins one. It’s a great ending for the character who, after
saying time and time again he would never find peace on Earth, proves himself right in an
unexpected way. On the second level, it’s a great lead-in to an animated World War Hulk
animated feature if they ever go down that path. Much like the comic storyline, Hulk finds
everything he finds here at the end of the animated feature, but then it’s ripped away. How
gripping would the opener for the next animated Hulk movie be if they followed the same path?
I think it’s a brilliant way to get another animated Hulk feature, and I hope it comes to
How does it stand up to the other animated films from Marvel Animation? Quite well, in fact.
I’ve enjoyed every previous Marvel Animated Feature, some more than others, although their
rewatchability greatly varies. Ultimate Avengers: The Movie, Next Avengers:
Heroes of Tomorrow and Hulk Versus tend to be the ones I find myself
revisiting the most time and time again, in all honesty. I actually still believe
Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow is probably the most under-appreciated animated
feature to come out of both DC and Marvel from the past couple years, but that’s a completely
different topic. To get back on-track, Planet Hulk, I think, may become the absolute
favorite in the Marvel Animated Feature line for fans. True, I have a soft-spot for ol’
Jade Jaws, but you can’t deny the quality. It is Hulk unleashed, in a solo role, with a
full fleshed-out story and some pretty splendid action. It’s the animated portrayal fans
have been clamoring for for years.
Planet Hulk is pure Hulk, from
beginning to end, and it’s an utter blast. There’s action from start to finish,
but it’s never tiring and the film leaves plenty of room for character development
and plot advancement. It’s not perfect, these recent direct-to-video animated
features from both Marvel and DC both have their flaws, but the few flaws found here,
which really just amount to a bit of obvious animation shortcuts and focusing on certain
characters, have little to no affect on how enjoyable Planet Hulk really is.
This is Hulk unleashed, and I think fans of this great character would be foolish to
pass up the chance to see one of the best Hulk stories to ever come down the pipeline
animated and treated with the utmost respect. Plus, come on, this film is just
whetting our appetites for World War Hulk now. If you want to see “Hulk Smash,”
then look no further!