Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chronic Review: Hulk Vs DVD

OK, so this one was a little late. Hulk Vs. was originally slotted to hit stores shortly after the Edward Norton Hulk film. Better late than never?

I guess the good news is that it's a non-stop slugfest, and that has a sort of timeless quality to it. Marvel turned to the attached at the hip team of Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost. These are the cats who brought you a recent run of New X-Men and the current run of X-Force.

And if these two are your cup of tea, that demonstrates that A) You're not thinking clearly and B) That you're very likely to enjoy the two lackluster stories that comprise this animated feature.

The Hulk Vs. Thor portion runs 45 minutes and centers around Loki's plan to use the Hulk as a weapon against Asgard in it's weakest moments. For a week per year, ol' One Eye lapses into his Odinsleep, and every jag-off who doesn't like the gods makes a run at Asgard. Then Thor beats them about head, breast, chest, and neck area.

This year Mr. Laufeyson teams up with The Enchantress to throw a giant gamma-irradiated monkey wrench into the works, and hijinx ensue.

There are a couple of interesting elements to the tale. Yost and Kyle take a stab at some complexity by splitting Banner from Hulk. It provides a touch of drama, because it instantly makes the Hulk tougher and Banner infinitely more vulnerable. It also opens the door to a twist that has Thor and Loki teaming up in the third act, and that could have been quite entertaining if executed properly. I'm not sure that it was.

Hulk Vs. Wolverine was shorter at 37 minutes, and the more entertaining section of the video. I enjoyed the voice work on Wolverine. Steve Blum refines the gruff stuff that Cathal Dodd was doing less convincingly on the early 90s X-Men cartoon.

Department H notices that a giant green guy seems to tearing out large chunks of Canada in the most rude manner possible. They decide to send in Wolverine to contain the beast if possible and kill the beast if necessary. Hijinx ensue.

The pound-a-rama gets even better once Deadpool and his band of knuckle heads get involved. I think they went a bit overboard trying to make every moment a one-liner, but Wade Wilson steals the show here, and every moment he's on screen is a highlight.

The problem with the Hulk Vs. is that the creators vaguely understood that an all-out bash and thrash was just what the doctor ordered, but fell a bit short. It was also a bit inconsistent. In Hulk Vs. Thor, we aren't allowed to watch Hulk straddle a fallen thunder god and watch him pound the guy's face into flesh paste. In Hulk Vs. Wolverine, face paste is perfectly fine.

If you want to watch a real Hulk Vs., go back to the original Ultimate Avengers animated movie and watch the last 10 minutes. Now THAT'S a fight. The action in this latest product packs only half the punch and energy of that brouhaha. That's probably the greatest offense - we should be getting amped up action here, not Thorazined down.

This isn't a bad effort, per se. But like most of the Marvel animated movies, it does not wow or inspire. Die hards and 12 year-olds will enjoy it, but there's no compelling reason to pay $15 for it. Netflix this baby if you must, but I don't consider this a must addition to your DVD collection.


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