DVD Straightjacket - Planet Hulk

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, the 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?

Marvel Animated Features has done it again. They’ve taken one of their greatest creations and successfully adapted one of his most well-known tales for the TV screen. Planet Hulk features the green legend in his finest form – huge, angry, and violent as you always expect him to be. There’s no David or Bruce Banner to be found here. He’s just a raging green behemoth let loose on a warring planet he mistakenly gets in the middle of.

This, once again, is an animated feature done right. It gets straight to the action, while not completely sacrificing story and plot. Why Hulk is being sent in a spacecraft from Earth by the other Avengers is explained quite thoroughly in a span of about 30 seconds and you never question that motivation again through the rest of the 80-some minutes of non-stop forward motion. Come on, what comic book fan isn’t going to like this? It has Hulk battling robots and alien monsters in a coliseum atmosphere with swords and brute strength. What’s not to like? They even fit in a special appearance of buzz-hero of the hour Thor for good measure.

The animation is good old-fashioned 70’s and 80’s style, while still being improved upon and current. There’s no CGI here – at least not noticeable. It definitely is more in the style vein of Spectacular Spider-Man and Super Hero Squad than the dreadful looking Iron Man: Armored Adventures.

The voice cast has some great talent involved, but no one that is widely known or any big-name actors. The Hulk is voiced by relatively unknown Rick D. Wasserman. It also features voice talent from Kevin Michael Richardson (Dante's Inferno: An Animated Epic, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, The Spectacular Spider-Man, The Batman), Liam O'Brien (Wolverine and the X-Men, Afro Samurai: Resurrection), Mark Hildreth (V, Wolverine and the X-Men, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, X-Men: Evolution), and Lisa Ann Beley (Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Transformers: Galaxy Force, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Dragon Ball Z).

Overall, this is a great straight-to-DVD entry to add to your collection of Marvel’s animated movies. It seems like it’s being positively received by comic book fans from what I’ve read around the net, but there’s always going to be the one or two die-hard fans that will complain about it not being completely true to the year’s worth of written / drawn story. It might be a bit violent for some youngsters, so don’t be tricked by the “Not Rated” marking on the packaging. This is definitely in the PG-13 or at least PG realm.

Special Features:
The Two-Disc Special Edition comes with audio commentary w/ Producer Joshua Fine and Screenwriter Greg Johnson, audio commentary w/Director Sam Liu and Character Designer Philip Bourassa, A Whole New World of Hurt: The Making of Planet Hulk Featurette, Let the Smashing Commence: The Saga of Planet Hulk, 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, and a digital copy of the film.

The Blu-ray Special Edition contains the opening sequence of Thor: Tales of Asgard, audio commentary by supervising producer Joshua Fine and screenwriter Greg Johnson, audio commentary by director Sam Liu, character designer Philip Bourassa, and key background painter Steve Nicodemus, A Whole New 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, and digital copy. (Review by Eric Shirey)