I’ll end the suspense and just begin by saying that “Planet Hulk” is a great movie. Moreover, from what I am assume. It’s also very faithful to the source material. Hey, what kind of a reviewer would I be if I didn’t at least flip through the trades first right? Anyway, this is probably the best direct-to-DVD Marvel film to date. It’s a great stand alone story. You don’t need to know much about Hulk or Hulk’s continuity. It is story driven, not watered down and action packed! One of my biggest grips about previous Marvel films had always been how plotless they were. But not “Planet Hulk.”
Sure, Hulk smashes a lot of things, but it wasn’t just 120 odd minutes of Hulk slugging aliens in the face and whining about wanting to be left alone — although we do get a little bit of that.
Another pivotal character is Caiera, a high ranked lieutenant to the Red King who serves as his personal body guard. Born with “Shadow Strength,” Caiera was the last remaining survivor of her village after it was invaded by The Spikes, a virus that turned people into zombie savages. She was eventually discovered and rescued by the Red King, who at the time was just a child. He convinces her that he is the true savior of Skaar as oppose to the mythically one spoken about in the Skaar prophecies (We’re lead to believe that Hulk is this savior). According to Wikipedia, some changes were made with Caiera’s back story between book and film. If anything, I think the film handled it pretty well and the changes were done for the better as it cleaned up her convoluted origin. Additionally, the changes paid off making her character more sympathetic as we get to learn why she’s so fiercely loyal to the Red King despite coming off as a complete tyrant throughout the film.
In terms of animation, “Planet Hulk” is not the best animated film. If you’ve seen previous Marvel films, the quality is about the same, maybe a little better. Some corners were definitely cut, but it’s not completely horrible. Character designs are simple and they reminded me of designs from “Avatar: The Last Air Bender.” But it’s also painfully obvious that the quality of animation is no where near as good as “Avatar” in terms of both the regular animation and the direction of the action sequences. If I have any complaint about the style, however, it’s that Hulk himself looks rather young. I would have preferred a much more seasoned and intimidating “Green Scar.”
Overall, “Planet Hulk” is a solid and enjoyable experience. It has some smart dialogue lifted straight from the comics and enough of a storyline to not completely bore or alienate audiences unfamiliar with the comics. Action scenes are plentiful and paced well with purpose throughout the film so they don’t come across as gratuitous or pandering just to kids. The ending to “Planet Hulk” is left open for a possible “War World Hulk” sequel, although I can’t image it being made especially with its darker tone and the fact that Lionsgate may soon lose their Marvel license as a result of the Disney-Marvel buyout. Whatever case, if you’re a fan of the “Plant Hulk” storyline, the Hulk or the Marvel universe, “Planet Hulk” is a must see. While it doesn’t raise any bar, it does enough to be a faithful adaptation and comes out as one of Marvel/Lionsgate’s better animated films.