A Report From PLANET HULK

Here’s one of the great things about living in Los Angeles: Free Movies! By proximity and postal code, LA geeks are often able to scam/beg/sneak their way into film premieres, studio screenings, or Guild Q &As. So, when I saw the chance to attend the Planet Hulk screening over at the Paley Center for Media (sponsored by Newsarama and the New York Comic Con,) I did my "Free Movie Dance" and signed up for the event.

Hulktix

 

When my ticket “arrived” via email, I noticed there was a plus one available-- so I called my buddy, comic artist, Tony Fleecs and invited him to tag along for a little additional commentary.

  

PRE-SHOW


At the Paley Center, Tony and I nabbed decent seats in the screening room, ran into some fellow LA nerd friends, and chatted up with Archaia Comics Marketing Director (and fellow Geekweek’er) Mel Caylo, who grabbed the seat next to me.
The pre-show atmosphere was like a rowdy comic store on a Wednesday night—Lots of nerd talk: from the Twilight/Buffy reveal, to Marvel’s Siege event, to an upcoming SyFy movie called “Swamp Shark.” Yes…Swamp Shark.

 

The crowd settled as we were welcomed to the Paley Center by one of their top brass, who then introduced Blair Butler to the stage. A few “woo!’s” later and Blair kicked off the introduction: talking about how far Comic-Animated movies have come since the “Mullet Headed Dazzler” in Pryde of the X-Men. Blair continued on, championing animation as the only way you could really bring Planet Hulk to life—“Even James Cameron couldn’t pull this off!”—Blair wrapped up her intro pretty quick, the lights dimmed and off we went to Planet Hulk…

Hulk title

SHOW


Admittedly, it’s been a minute since I’ve read Planet Hulk, which is probably a good thing as my memory wasn’t fresh enough to nerdboy/fan-pick little plot details. That said, story-wise: this is the closest comic to screen translation I’ve seen in a Marvel film (animated or otherwise.) No, it isn’t shot for shot/“Sin City” literal-- But from a script perspective, the big important beats are there. Nothing felt altered or omitted (though undoubtedly, due to time and narrative, were...) and I was able to call out where we were in the comic storyline at any moment.

 

I presume most of you have read Planet Hulk, or are at least familiar with the arc-- but if not: PH is basically a Conan/Gladiator story, starring The Hulk, who has been marooned on an alien planet where he gets to smash lots of stuff.
The 2006 Hulk event, written by Greg Pak, quickly established itself as an instant classic. All Hulk, no puny Banner.  

Planet_hulk_banner
 

The film kicks off with The Hulk aboard a spaceship (thereby removing the prologue storyline: “Peace in our Time”) as a recorded message from Iron Man (not Reed Richards as seen in the comic) and the rest of the Illuminati outline his exile to another planet. They’ve set him up with a peaceful one, lots of plants and pretty things—nothing to make Hulk Mad. Or Hulk Smash.

If things had gone as planned, it would have been a pretty boring 80 some odd minutes of movie—but, naturally they don’t—Hulk crash lands on the Planet Sakaar, and the opening credits roll.

Planethulk-action 

From there, the film plays out like a fairly compressed version of the comic. There are a few notable omissions: For one, The Brood sister is not amongst the Warbound Gladiators—An understandable choice and no one in the audience seemed to be bothered by it.

Warbound 

Of the gladiators, Miek gets a few good scenes in, and Korg’s flashback contains a adaptation diversion which—in all honesty, is pretttty cool. Like, “people clapping in the audience” cool.

 

From here, I’m not going to talk about specific plot details—if you’ve read the comics, there aren’t any real surprises. If you haven’t read them, I don’t want to spoil anything for you. Either way, if you’re a Marvel Zombie, keep an eye out for a few Easter egg characters the animation team snuck in— Like, maybe a Skrull in the background of the arena?

Hulk-smash

 

The animation is pretty good. I think it's fair to say that animation is historically an area where DC/Timm have had Marvel against the ropes-- But in the last few years we've really seen Marvel Animation step up their game. I wouldn’t call Planet Hulk “mindblowing” in terms of animation—but, there are some really nice looking scenes. The battles in particular were a lot of fun (and c’mon, that’s all you really want to see: HULK SMASH!) with some fluid character movement and fight choreography. Plus the PG-13 rating allowed for exploding eyeballs and ripped limbs. Hulk smash pretty good.

Planet-hulk rip

 

Fleecs was a fan of the character design work—Personally, I prefer a larger scale/'roid rage Hulk (As seen in the Hulk Vs. film,) but Tony is the guy that draws professionally, so go ahead and defer to him on that one. Plus, I get it: If the Hulk is the biggest thing in the arena, there isn't any real threat.
 
The voice acting and dialogue were solid. Nothing made me cringe at any point (again, echo “Pryde of the X-men”…ugh.) Rick D. Wasserman as the voice of The Hulk puts in a good performance—Come to think of it, I don’t think there has been a definitive version of the Hulk’s voice ever recorded, so there isn’t much to compare it to. Obviously, those that have read Planet Hulk know that ‘ole green and purple isn’t the monosyllabic “classic” Hulk, so Wasserman has a bit more dialogue to chew on. He captures a quiet loneliness in his performance, which, I suppose if you’d been shot into space by your so-called friends, is the way you’d probably feel too.

Planet_hulk_arena_screengrab

POST SHOW

Lights came back up and the panelist took the stage- I’m actually just going to turn you over to the Newsarama widget, since someone over there (with really fast typing skills) did a real-time play by play. I do warn you in advance: The first question gives away the cameo I kept from you—so, spoilers at the link!

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

All in all, Planet Hulk is a pretty fun and solid watch. I wouldn’t highly recommend the movie to anyone who has only a baseline knowledge of The Hulk (thinks the Hulk is either Eric Bana or Ed Norton,) but if you’re a Hulk fan or have read Planet Hulk, it’s worth your time. The film is paced well and the runtime doesn’t overstay its welcome. Invite a few comic nerd friends over, kick back on the couch, do not put on your fanboy nitpicking hat, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

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Planet Hulk Releases on Blu-Ray/DVD and Digital Download on Febuary 2nd.


SPECIAL EDITION DVD AND BLU-RAY BONUS FEATURES:*

DISC ONE:

* Opening Sequence: Thor: Tales of Asgard
* Audio commentary by Supervising Producer Joshua Fine and Screenwriter Writer Greg Johnson
* Audio commentary by Director Sam Liu, Character Designer Philip Bourassa and Key Background Painter Steve Nicodemus
* “A Whole World of Hurt: The Making of Planet Hulk” featurette
* “Let the Smashing Commence!: The Saga of Planet Hulk” featurette
* “Rise Up” Astonishing X-Men music video
* “Watch Your Step” Spider-Woman music video
* Wolverine and the X-Men: “Wolverine vs. Hulk” episode
* Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D motion comic
* Astonishing X-Men: Gifted motion comic



DISC TWO:

* Standard Definition Digital Copy of the feature film

 

 
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