So Planet Hulk is the latest straight to DVD animated film to be thrown out at us by the awesome Marvel Animation and Lionsgate Home Entertainment partnership, and after catching it I have to say that for the first time I really wasn’t blown away by what up to now has been a pretty exciting surge in comic book-related film releases.

Based on the comic “Planet Hulk” storyline by Greg Pak and Carlo Pagulayan, Planet Hulk basically throws Hulk (from the phase when he was still the half intelligent green guy instead of the constantly morphing Bruce Banner to Hulk mode) off of our world thanks to some combined super hero ingenuity and sends out towards an uninhabited planet where he can’t be harmed and more importantly, can’t harm anything around him.

Unfortunately the plan goes slightly awry and Hulk finds himself cast upon an oppressed world where he is enslaved and tossed into the gladiator pits to become a fighter that will entertain the crowd as well as the all important Red King, the tyrant that rules the people of this planet in his iron grip.

However, Hulk’s appearance coincides with the natives’ legends of a saviour for their people and as Hulk slowly begins to gather followers (whether he wants them or not), the tide begins to shift as the Warbound, basically his band of fighters, continue their quest against ever stronger opponents to earn their freedom – and perhaps even that of the planet while they are at it!

While there is certainly nothing wrong with the story itself, the pacing just feels horribly wrong and we are shuttled from sequence to sequence, sometimes making huge leaps in the story being told and then simply be expected to fill in the details and make the mental leap ourselves. Stripping away everything else, this is pretty much a gladiator film and worse, a pretty tired gladiator story with the only new thing being aliens in Roman gladiator dress instead of humans.

The animation is pretty okay and the battle scenes are nice and fluid, though the visuals are kept pretty simple in terms of line count and colouring, and there isn’t all that much in terms of atmosphere created by the line art are shadowing. Also, I kept wondering to myself where Hulk’s nose kept disappearing to – for some reason they seemed intent on giving him the cutest little button nose whenever the opportunity arose! :P

Of course, as with all these new breed of animated films, there is a fair bit of animated violence to contend with, including the squishing of bug aliens by a huge brick monster. Nothing that should induce nightmares in kids, but something certainly worth taking note of.

The musical score and voice acting on the other hand are all pretty good and although I didn’t recognise most of the names on the voice roll call, I thought that just about everyone put in a pretty fine performance.

So in summary, a pretty average outing delivered to us courtesy of director Sam Liu, and it must be said that I can’t help but think that the work he delivers for the DC stable of animated films continues to be stronger than the work he delivers for Marvel. Still, it is an animated movie, it does feature the big green rampaging giant and so for any Marvel or comic book reader, this remains a film that should be watched and will bring joy to those fans of the jolly green giant! :)