Planet Hulk – DVD review

The fruitful relationship between Marvel Animation studios and Lionsgate Home Entertainment continues with another direct-to-dvd movie, following in the footsteps of recent gems such as “Ultimate Avengers I & II”, and “The Invincible Iron Man”. The most recent of these releases was the “Hulk Vs.” dvd which saw animated re-enactments of two popular comic book face offs, namely with the X-Men’s Wolverine, and the other with Thor. Anyone who’s even remotely familiar with the iconic Green Goliath will know that what he does best is “SMASH!” Planet Hulk continues this rich cultural heritage with 80 minutes of deliciously low-brow comic book violence.

The film opens to find a relatively sane and polysyllabic Hulk chained up in a space ship on course for the middle of nowhere – a videogram from Iron Man informs him that it has been decided that an exile to the other side of the universe is the best way for the heroes of Planet Earth to deal with The Hulk Problem. Before long, Hulk is crash landing on an alien planet, captured by insect men, and locked up with a rag tag troupe of monstrous slaves. Swiftly, the story develops into a super-powered re-telling of Gladiator or Spartacus, and the bulk of the runtime is devoted to laser-zapping, robo-suited, mechanical monstrous mayhem and all sorts of Gamma-powered carnage.

It would be foolish to pretend that Planet Hulk has any depth or complexity beyond its surface. Comic book fans will no doubt be relieved to know that it adheres pretty closely to the printed source material – Hulk’s alter-ego Bruce Banner never gets a look in for starters, and by putting Hulk in a completely alien environment it somehow manages to avoid his need to ever revert, or become less angry. One super-cameo is altered in the translation from page to screen, presumably because of licensing rights, but it is a negligible change.

After a pair of disappointing (to some) translations to the big screen for the Green Goliath, this slight, pulpy adventure does exactly what one would want from the Hulk, namely non-stop action adventure that doesn’t have time to navel-gaze or question its own absurdity. Get comfy, turn up the volume, and enjoy finally seeing “HULK SMASH!”

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