‘Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell’ Review

The Hulk’s latest animated outing falls flat, but makes up for it with character development that hints at the Hulk’s big screen future.

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**Warning – slight spoilers ahead***

While we Hulk fans wait patiently for Thor:Ragnarok to hit theatres, we hoped to satisfy ourselves with this newest animated feature made under the Marvel/Disney umbrella. And in some ways it did, but mostly it showed how differently Disney is pulling the strings now.

Since the earliest reports this was being made I was put under the impression this film would be “more adult” and even had it compared to Batman’s ‘The Killing Joke’ animated film. The final product barely sneezed in that direction. This film could easily be described as a Halloween gimmick meant to promote both the new Dr.Strange film and keep kids interested in the Hulk until Ragnarok releases.

The animation was passable and the story was cliche. This basically felt like something that could fit into the Hulk and Agents of SMASH series. Which may be what they wanted. The Hulk in this is a chatterbox and seems more annoyed then angry most of the time. Strange reminded me of his character from the 90’s Hulk cartoon series, so no complaints there. The Howling Commandos were slightly interesting, but we received very little back story on them. The zombie guy was probably the creepiest (and I’m stretching that term) and is most likely the closest to a ‘mature theme’ in this story.

I won’t delve into the stories details; I found it boring for the most part. The main villain in this is Nightmare who offers very little to the plot.

Now I will give it credit where credit is due. At times the Hulk’s fighting scenes are fun to watch. I always enjoy seeing him smash things. But what caught my attention is how they are transitioning and changing the rules slightly on how Banner and Hulk work together. It seems Banner has control of Hulk and can change at will. Hulk is still no fan of Banner though. But near the end it does seem like the two are beginning to work as a team more. Also the stories ability to incorporate Banner into more of it hints at ways Marvel might utilize Mark Ruffalo on screen for future Hulk films.

This was obviously a film with influence from Disney, as previous animated films like ‘Planet Hulk’ or ‘Hulk Vs.’ were much, much better in my opinion.

My final thoughts are as follows. This film is great for kids and young children as a Halloween family film. For adults it is definitely lacking. I would recommend this as a rent not a buy (Which Marvel seems aware of since its only available for digital download at the time of this writing). This is a perfect film to watch while counting candy on Halloween night.

Get SMASHED!

 

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The Avengers: Age of Ultron SMASHING Review

So the new Avengers movie is out in theaters. People have been waiting with bated breath for three years and what are they saying about it? Well its a mix of “WOW!!” and “Pretty Good”. The movie was a wild ride and for most it was enjoyable. However, it didn’t quite hold onto the magic of the first one. Since there are so many reviews of the movie already out there I will not add to the bulk with another. My review is specific to one detail, a big detail…Hulk.

**SPOILER ALERT** you have been warned…

Hulk in this film definitely had more screen time and for the first time in cinema history he actually appeared on screen within the first ten minutes of the film. In all previous Hulk films one would need to wait at least 30-45 minutes before seeing any green skin (the credit sequence at the beginning of Norton’s Hulk doesn’t count). So this was a pleasant surprise. Though his time on screen was still considerably less then all the other Avengers (Tony Stark still in the lead) it was a vast improvement from the first. Though of course being as this is the only time I get to see Hulk on screen I wanted more. Most Hulk appearances happen so quickly you barely have time to absorb all the details of the performance and the grandeur that is Hulk. This film actually gave a few special moments where you could actually take in the performance and not worry about blinking.

The performance of Hulk was also improved. Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings, King Kong, and Planet of the Apes) assisted Ruffalo with his mo-cap performance. For a couple of scenes I could see a bit more “ape” in the acting, most likely a carry over from Andy’s previous work. Hulk was more primitive, more scary, and of course more angry. But there was also a tenderness given, especially in the scenes with Black Widow.

Now most people have complained about this ham fisted attempt at romance between Black Widow and Hulk. And for the most part I tend to agree…it totally appeared out of nowhere and really didn’t lead anywhere. It was more a plot convenience then anything. It gave a mechanic for easily calming Hulk back into Bruce whenever needed. Hulk has always had a weakness for the ladies. Also it did help bring out the pain/suffering of both these characters and assisted in exploring their characters depth. Banner was definitely shown grappling with his own personal demons, in this case a big green one. Widow also opened up emotionally in response.  This was good for the Hulk/Banner in the sense it reflected the comics and the turmoil between the two. However, it kind of sapped the fun out of the Hulk. The Hulk was fun in the first film. Though attempts were made in this second film, I don’t think anything topped that “Puny god” moment.

The Hulkbuster scene definitely was a wild ride for the Hulk and easily the most epic Hulk battle on screen with the Abomination battle a close second. I am also happy they decided to keep him green for the sake of the audience and fans. Though rumor is he was going to be grey for that scene…it would have not added much to the Hulk on-screen. The true grey hulk was a bit smarter and could even talk a bunch. So unless this grey version was going to live up to its roots, it’s better he stayed green. My only other gripe with the scene is once again the prevalence of Iron Man dominating screen time during the fight. Tony Stark and his weapons took up most of the scenes with Hulk peppered seemingly in-between. Also I plainly do not agree or believe a punch from the Hulkbuster would have knocked the Hulk out cold. I more easily would have accepted him being drugged or maybe running off, after seeing the destruction he caused, and reverting to Banner somewhere quiet.

And finally we reach the end…the Hulk flying away into hiding. Many think the jet took him into space. However, the jet was supposedly reported to have crashed in the ocean. The evidence supports Hulk is still on Earth and in hiding on a tropical island. My dreams for a Planet Hulk movie have been continually dashed upon the rocks of Hollywood. I cannot see a studio picking up the tab on such a film and be expected to do the comic justice. I will cling to the hope of it happening someday…but not anytime soon. Hulk is most likely on Earth and he’s hiding (though with Marvel anything can happen). What will bring him back? The Civil War? Ruffalo is supposedly slated to be in the film. Will Banner/Hulk accept registration or oppose it? But then again Hulk was never part of Civil War in the comics. Could he team up with the Guardians? Or will he remain hidden until Thanos comes calling? I hope we see Hulk again long before Thanos shows up. But if that’s the way it has to be…Hulk better put a green fist into that Mad Titan’s purple jaw.

Marvel Knights: Ultimate Wolverine Versus Hulk DVD review

So after much patience the new Marvel Knights installment of Ultimate Wolverine VS Hulk dropped on DVD yesterday. After checking at least five stores I was able to snatch a copy from Wal-Mart. DVD released September 10, 2013.

The case it comes in is very thin and light. Don’t expect a typical DVD case. 

Anyone familiar with the Marvel Knights series knows that essentially this is an animated comic book with voice overs and music. This is not an animated film like the older HULK VS or Planet Hulk. So some of the animations are a bit weird. However the voiceover work is solid and the music/sound effects really solidify the drawings as a living world.

Hulk is pure-smashing Hulk. Which I truly appreciate after having to deal with Agents of SMASH these past few weeks. Logan is also the tough a$$hole we have all come to love. If you are familiar with the series of comics this is pulled from then you know what the story is about and its emotional tone. The hulk is vicious and a killer. Logan is not much better. However, both characters have their moments of morality. An animal and a monster…but deep down there is a human being in each of them. Hulk rips things apart and keeps some rather erotic company up in the mountains. Logan is ripped to pieces throughout and keeps coming back for more fun.

I do have a few reservations regarding the story…but that’s mostly since I am not familiar with that era of Hulk. When did Betty Ross become a green she-hulk?? Why is Jennifer Walters a doctor?  If anyone can answer these questions I would greatly appreciate it.

Additionally the story unfolds in six 10 minute episodes. Which is kind of annoying if you want to watch all six straight through. So be prepared to fast forward through credits and the intro video six times. Why couldn’t they have simply made a merged option?

The single featurette is kind of nice. Basically exploring a little back story on the making of the comic and animated version. Not much more then that. No other special features are included.

The DVD retails for around $10 so it is well worth the money.

Get SMASHED!!