Blu-ray: Recommended
3.5 Stars out of 5
Sale Price 9.99
List Price 14.99
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Release Date: February 2nd, 2010
Movie Release Year: 2010
Release Country: United States
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Planet Hulk

Review Date February 1st, 2010 by
Overview - 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, 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?
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  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs: Blu-ray
    BD25 Single Layer Disc
    Region A
    Digital Copy
    Video Resolution/Codec: 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
    Length:81
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):1.78:1
    English Descriptive Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
    Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
    Subtitles/Captions: English, English SDH, Spanish
    Special Features: Featurette
    Motion comics
    Music videos
    One episode of "Wolverine and the X-Men"
    Movie Studio: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
    Release Date: February 2nd, 2010

Story Review Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

4 Stars out of 5

The Hulk is, among countless other things, a representation of the duality of man. From civilized genius one moment as Bruce Banner, to the savage beast with little regard to his surroundings the next, the green skinned gargantuan has seen varying changes throughout his nearly-fifty year history. From changes in his skin to his personality, the character possibly saw his greatest change in 2006, with the 'Planet Hulk' story line, in which the entire landscape changed. Goodbye Earth, hello Sakaar.

The Hulk (voiced by Rick Wasserman) has been deemed too great a danger to the planet Earth. Exiled on an unmanned space craft by Earth's heroes, destined for a land with no intelligent life, Hulk is having none of it. After causing his craft to lose control and crash on the planet Sakaar, the green skinned rage addict is immediately believed to be a man of prophecy, sent to free the world of its shackles. Forced into slavery, to compete as a gladiator for the amusement of the people, and the cruel Red King (Mark Hildreth), Hulk is revered by his co-gladiators, a mixture of alien races, as he stands up openly in rebellion to the king. Even victory doesn't guarantee safety, peace, or freedom for the Hulk, though, as the gauntlet that he is facing may not be his greatest threat on Sakaar.

Adapted from a short (but popular) run in the pages of 'Incredible Hulk' in 2006 with the same name, 'Planet Hulk' doesn't necessarily stay true to its source material. The most obvious changes, beyond the fact that many subplots and lines of dialogue had to be cut for coherency, are the addition and removal of characters. The entire opening jumps the entire set up that places Hulk in his shackles aboard the space ship in the first place, after the lies and betrayal of a group of heroes known as the Illuminati. Next, the gladiators themselves undergo a light tweak, as there is no Brood (an alien race made popular in X-Men comics) combatant. Most drastically, though, is the change of one of the story's key characters. The Silver Surfer (who appeared in the second 'Fantastic Four' film) has been wiped clean from the story, and replaced with a far lesser known Marvel character, a member of the Thor Corps named Beta Ray Bill. This change works, in my opinion, due to the extreme over-powering nature of the Surfer, while Beta Ray Bill, whose powers are identical to that of Thor's, is more a match for the green monster.

'Planet Hulk' may sound an awful lot like Ridley Scott's epic 'Gladiator,' but that's because it really, really is. This Hulk story doesn't hide the fact that it takes more than just a few themes from the Academy Award winner, and cranks up the violence (though it is in shorter segments, so it doesn't work as well). Blood and guts are found a plenty, with one particularly nasty head smashing that sends goo flying. The biggest difference, besides what happens outside the colosseum, between the films has to be the acting. Sure, cartoon characters can't really "act," but when the Hulk has more lines than he does steroid injections or hurtles through the air at a (soon to be dead) foe, things don't work as well. The Hulk is best silent, a growling, menacing beast, so caught up in his rage he cannot express himself beyond single syllables, if at all. Philosophical Hulk is best left with the grey split personality of the beast.

The story can meander a bit, and loses its steam in the third act, which is more like a sci-fi horror than anything else, as characters are transformed in a fashion very similar to a zombie outbreak. Another problem is the amount of time dedicated to background characters, as Hulk doesn't get enough time to grow, or increase in ferocity. The repeated flashbacks for gladiator origin stories got old fast, creating a few problematic moments.

More devout Marvel fans will find plenty to enjoy, with numerous familiar characters and species popping up, from Thor, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Black Bolt and Reed Richards all the way to skrulls, death's head guards, and some background characters similar to Infinity Watch era Gamora and other cosmic characters. These same fans will also surely enjoy the fact that 'Planet Hulk' has to be one of the best, if not the best, Marvel animations created to date, flawed as it may be.

The Disc: Vital Stats

'Planet Hulk' is the seventh animated Marvel title to hit Blu-ray, after the two pack of the 'Ultimate Avengers Collection,' 'The Invincible Iron Man,' 'Doctor Strange,' 'Hulk Vs,' and 'The Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow.' Funnily enough, Hulk has been a key character in five of those seven flicks.

'Planet Hulk' is packaged in a two disc eco-case, and includes an embossed slipcover. The disc is a single layer BD25, and the packaging states the release is Region A locked, which would be a first for these animated Lionsgate titles.

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    Blu-ray
    BD25 Single Layer Disc
    Region A
    Digital Copy
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    1080p/AVC MPEG-4
    Length:81
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.78:1
    Audio Formats:
    English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
    Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English, English SDH, Spanish
    Special Features:
    Featurette
    Motion comics
    Music videos
    One episode of "Wolverine and the X-Men"
    Movie Studio: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
    Release Date: February 2nd, 2010

Video Review

3 Stars out of 5

'Planet Hulk' arrives on Blu-ray with an AVC MPEG-4 encode at 1080p in the natural 1.78:1 ratio. I have to wonder if all the extras, on top of the 7.1 audio, all jammed into a BD25 disc affected the video quality. The Lionsgate Marvel animated titles have not been visual stunners, but 'Planet Hulk' seems like a step backward instead of forward from their more recent releases.

The title sequence shows massive promise, due to the computer animation, with incredible minute detail and color depth, and any CG moments in the remainder of the film sparkles. Backgrounds have beautiful clarity and detail, and never macroblock. The problem is the character animation, and damn near every part of it. Banding is obvious early and often, particularly in the skin of Elloe and the Hulk himself. Character outlines have a hard time staying straight (not blocking or stepping), while colors find themselves exceeding their drawn boundaries, often awkwardly, especially in whites, which look much like color bleeding. Artifacting is visible in solid colors, giving the husk of the big green machine a wonderful artifact/banding combination. Some of the faster paced scenes suffer from blurring and blocking, as well. Colors are bold, backgrounds are fantastic, and aliasing is hardly an issue in this release. It just seems there are more FUBARs than anything else.

Audio Review

3.5 Stars out of 5

Presented by way of an English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix, 'Planet Hulk' sounds just like what it is: a direct-to-video cartoon, not too high on production values. Dialogue is always clear, though it sometimes struggles to get out from beneath the other elements, from action effects to score. Dynamic range is hardly on display, as the film lacks any distinct high range, but I did find myself enjoying the bass levels, with roars in the title sequence, aboard air crafts, and in colosseum fights to add tension. I also enjoyed the fact I could hear the crumbling of the Kronan species (the rock men) as they took a blow, with pebbles falling off them, despite the fact that the debris is rarely shown. Rears mostly get score bleed, though there were a few moments of crowd roars and some nice echoes filling the room (strangely, most of the crowd stays in the front channels). One distinct element of the mix can be heard on the transport ship, a high pitched squeal, which is massively distracting, but seems to be a part of the sound mix, as it is limited to that sequence.

Special Features

3 Stars out of 5

All of the extras on this release can be found in the two disc edition of the DVD.

  • Audio Commentary - With Joshua Fine and Greg Johnson. This track covers the material that did not make its way into the film, as well as some changes in the material, including the reasons behind them (legal reasons for not having Reed Richards talk and be clearly defined? Really?). The pair also discuss the dialogue involving the Hulk, the ironies in the film, hidden background characters, and the entire situation involving the use of Beta Ray Bill in two vital scenes in the film. A rapid fire track, with tons of back and forth conversation, and no one participant dominating the mix.
  • Audio Commentary - With Sam Liu, Philip Bourassa, and Steve Nicodemus. This track covers more technical aspects than the other track, which focusses on story. The trio provide some nice insight, but there are too many blank moments and gaps, as well as uninteresting conversation to make this track worth its weight in anything.
  • A Whole World of Hurt: The Making of 'Planet Hulk' (HD, 21 min) - From doubts on making yet another Hulk feature, to discussion of the complexities of the 'Planet Hulk' story, this feature covers a multitude of 'Planet Hulk' ideas, briefly. The title sequence gets a great amount of detail, as do the important scenes from the comic that had to find their way in the cartoon, and the voice casting of the characters.
  • Let the Smashing Commence! The Saga of 'Planet Hulk' (HD, 11 min) - Greg Pak and Aaron Lopresti, the writing and artwork team behind the 'Incredible Hulk' comics during the 'Planet Hulk' run, discuss their time creating this particular run, including the cover and coloring work from their creative team. A great feature for comic fans, rather than film fans.
  • Preview (HD, 5 min) - The opening sequence for 'Thor: Tales of Asgard,' the next title in the line of Marvel animated movies is included. The openings of this feature is more akin to an extended trailer for the film, which features an adventure of Thor in his youth, rather than as an adult. Soon after, an actual segment from the film is shown.
  • Bonus Cartoon (SD, 22 min) - An episode of 'Wolverine and the X-Men' cartoon is included, entitled 'Wolverine vs Hulk.' The animation values are weak, while any single motion brings a tremendous amount of gradient, with few lines staying straight. As much of a fan of Steve Blum (the voice of Wolverine, Spike in 'Cowboy Bebop,' and Mugen in 'Samurai Champloo') as I am, not even his voice work could save this episode of this sub-par series. The Wolverine segment of 'Hulk Vs.' is far more interesting and better written, while every moment of Hulk-liness is utterly lame. This Hulk is less threatening than a huevos rancheros bowel movement.
  • Motion Comic (SD, 10 min) - A motion comic (think 'The Watchmen'), featuring Spider-Woman in 'Agent of S.W.O.R.D..' This volume is an introduction to a series that gets little to nothing accomplished, and is an utter disaster in that sense.
  • Motion Comic (SD, 14 min) - Another motion comic, this time featuring the Astonishing X-Men in 'Gifted,' as written by Joss Whedon ('Firefly,' 'Serenity'). Fans may recognize this story from the comic books, but newcomers may find some fun little bits that would work just fine in conjunction with the other volumes. As a standalone, this comic is fairly weak.
  • Music Videos (SD, 6 min) - There are two music videos included, using the digital comic animations, with Watch Your Step featuring Spider-Woman, and Rise Up featuring the Astonishing X-Men. Why there is no Hulk themed video is beyond me.
  • Hulk Online Games Trailer (HD, 1 min) - A quick spot for marvelkids.com, promoting a series of Hulk related online games.
  • Trailers (HD) - Trailers for the Ultimate Alliance 2 game, 'Hulk Vs,' and 'Battle for Terra.' The latter two trailers are also pre-menu trailers, which cannot be skipped through the top button feature.
  • Digital Copy - Found on the second disc of this release is a Mac and Windows compatible digital copy of 'Planet Hulk.'

Final Thoughts

Comic fans will get what they've been asking for from the animated Marvel film series with 'Planet Hulk.' It may not totally follow the comic it's based on, but it provides the same themes and experiences regardless. The Blu-ray has average audio and video, and a solid pile of extras, most of which focus on other characters. An easy recommendation is earned based on story alone, but the technical aspects are troubling in their mediocrity.

Sale Price 9.99
List Price 14.99
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3rd Party 2.23
In Stock.
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  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    Blu-ray
    BD25 Single Layer Disc
    Region A
    Digital Copy
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    1080p/AVC MPEG-4
    Length:81
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    1.78:1
    Audio Formats:
    English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
    Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English, English SDH, Spanish
    Special Features:
    Featurette
    Motion comics
    Music videos
    One episode of "Wolverine and the X-Men"
    Movie Studio: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
    Release Date: February 2nd, 2010