Lets get this out of the way here and now:
I am not the intended audience for this film.
I’m not a Marvel comics fan, nor am I really a Hulk fan. I do enjoy the character, but in all my years of being a comic book fan, the only Hulk comics I’ve ever read was Hulk: Grey by Loeb and Sale and Hulk vs Thing: Hard Knocks by Bruce Jones and Jae Lee and I read those because of the creative teams rather than the character himself.
Then again, isn’t the purpose of these animated movies to get potential readers to invest in the source material? If so, then Planet Hulk the movie has me at least marginally interested in Planet Hulk the comic mostly because I want to see how much better the book is compared to the movie. Perhaps not the idea they were going for, but at least I was somewhat intrigued.
Anyway, let’s talk about this movie.
The film begins with Hulk captured by Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Dr. Strange, and a shadowy figure that is probably supposed to be Charles Xavier, but I assume that the rights to the X-Men belong to Fox and they won’t allow him to be used without their consent. Much like the comic, Hulk is being abandoned out in space because the Illuminati will no longer tolerate his presence on Earth.
It’s interesting to consider this move by the Illuminati when it is compared to the DCU because it’s not something that the Justice League would do. For all of the problems that the Hulk has caused on Earth, he has still protected it from time to time and that should count for something, but Tony Stark being the ultimate villain of the Marvel Universe, yet, he is still considered a hero.
As Hulk is sent out into the universe, an alien mage creates a magic sigil that appears to be an atomic symbol which summons the Hulk to his planet. It turns out that the Hulk is the chosen one to save an enslaved world from a tyrannical dictator. Most of the movie revolves around the Hulk and his new barbarian pals battling various opponents in the gladiator arena. The problem is that with the action set in a gladiator arena, the setting doesn’t vary so the action scenes come off as a little boring.
That is until the movie gets gory.
I was surprised this movie got away with as much as it did. There were several moments where I was left open-mouthed and shocked by the violence. It wasn’t gratuitous and it was certainly needed for a film like this, but it was still a shock and not at all a movie for kids.
This isn’t exclusive to this film though. There are plenty of DC animated films with shocking moments of violence. I can’t help but wonder how much this affects sales. Are parents still buying these movies for their kids? The violence isn’t so bad as to completely shy children away from them (I know that when Sam and I have kids, we’ll let them watch these movies), but there are plenty of parents who probably wouldn’t be happy with these movies. Then again, maybe I’m just thinking from a retailers standpoint of trying to avoid parents getting mad at me for selling a violent movie to kids.
Outside of the violence, the film presumes that viewers already know that Hulk’s origin (which is fine), so the film focuses on the back stories of the other characters (which are boring). I don’t know who Korg is and this film didn’t make me want to know him more. He appears to be a rock man and that is about all you need.
There are a few background guest appearances from Marvel’s space heroes, but these are just quick shots that have nothing to contribute to the overall plot. The exception to this is the appearance of Beta Ray Bill who has a larger part in the story. I’m not sure if he makes an appearance in the comic and I suppose I was excited by his appearance, but then I realized that the character I was cheering for was a bit underwhelming, so I considered him to be a bit of a disappointment.
The rest of the plot is a relatively predictable mess of backstabbing, and confusing plays at power that are made to seem complex, but they are ultimately hollow and ill-conceived.
Overall, I can’t recommend this movie. It’s a strange mishmash of science, magic, gladitorial/barbarian combat, and superheroics that never quite gels together into a cohesive film. There are a lot of themes going on, but none of them are particularly interesting. The Hulk does some smashing, but it’s never quite exciting. It is shocking at times, but outside of the intense violence, there wasn’t much to keep my attention.