Saturday, May 15, 2010

DVD Review: Hulk VS

Alright, the power kept going out again all day today so I didn’t even bother to try to catch up on TV and review the recent finales or Doctor Who, but I thought I’d take a shot at a DVD that has been sitting on top of my player for over a week now Hulk VS (Thor/Wolverine.) These two shorts aren’t really covering anything new here, but they’re not trying to either which is refreshing. You’re meant to go into this knowing that you’re going to get roughly two 40 minute pointless fight sequences between The Hulk and popular Marvel Universe characters.

I was a little nervous going into this because I’m not really a fan of Thor, and while I like action The Hulk has always seemed too pointless for my own tastes, there’s no real plot to him other than he gets angry, he breaks stuff, I need to be more intellectually engaged in something than that for me to enjoy it. And I know I’m going to catch a lot of flack here but I’m not the biggest Wolverine fan out there, he’s decent and all, but honestly he’s been managed to inconsistently over the years that it’s hard for him to have any real depth. The only times I ever really liked him in the comics were the times that he was mentoring Jubilee, Shadowcat, Cannonball and X-23.

Hulk VS Thor:

I’m not up on Thor at all so I went in essentially blind. This is supposed to just be an action movie so there’s no real room for plot; character development isn’t the driving force of what story there actually is. The movie starts with Loki bringing Hulk to Asgard to kill Thor while Odin is forced to rest and regain his strength. Loki is aided by The Enchantress who is holding a grudge against Thor for not returning her love for him. Amora/Enchantress does a spell to separate Hulk from Bruce Banner and give Loki control over him so he can act out his plan. Long story short, huge fight scenes, Thor almost dies, Amora suddenly decides to not be evil/love scorned and bring Thor back from the brink of death. The rest of the plot is a little bit better; once Bruce Banner dies The Hulk is left on Asgard while Bruce’s soul has been taken by Hela to remain trapped in the underworld. Thor manages to force Loki into traveling to the underworld in an attempt to either steal Bruce’s soul and/or convince Hela to let it go. Loki manages to convince Hela to bring Hulk to the underworld and we have yet more fighting between him and Thor all the while Bruce watches knowing he can end this but too afraid to take the Hulk back into his soul. Eventually Hulk and Bruce’s souls merge yet again and Thor convinces Hela that Hulk’s soul is to dangerous to keep, she demands a soul in trade, Thor vows never to stop fighting her so instead she takes Loki. In the end Odin is rested and all powered up, Hulk/Bruce get send back to Earth and Loki remains trapped in the underworld frozen in what looks like a giant red gem by Hela.

Personally I think Hulk VS Thor was good for what it was, but I would have much rather it have been turned into a full length movie and develop more of Loki and Thor’s relationship, a little back story for Enchantress and her slowly falling under Loki’s influence once Thor turns her down, and a more drawn out journey through the underworld in order to save Bruce’s soul.

Hulk VS Wolverine:

One thing that surprised me about this particular story was that they actually showed blood in this one. When Wolverine cut The Hulk, Weapon X scientists and doctors with his claws there was blood, when he was running through the snow, there was blood; however in Hulk VS Thor there was a scene where Hulk was cut and stabbed repeatedly with a sword and there was nothing… It didn’t really make sense considering that they’re on the same DVD. But along the same lines there’s more human violence (cutting off of body limbs, Deadpool shooting Logan at point blank range in the face) and some adult language in this feature (Deadpool says ass, but that’s pretty much it.)

The story here isn’t really anything new it’s a mixture of Wolverine VS Weapon X, Hulk, Omega Red, Lady Deathstrike (who is massively underused here if they didn’t want to give her a larger role then I would much rather have had them use Domino or Mystique); and Sabertooth. All of these have been used several times in almost every animated incarnation of X-Men: The Animated Series, Evolution, Wolverine & the X-Men. Also like Evolution and Wolverine & the X-Men this is also another way to once again give us a semi-retelling of X-23/Laura X’s origin. I know Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost created Laura and get royalties every time she’s used but the fact that they include her in almost every single Marvel property they touch is becoming overkill. However this does make sense because Hulk VS Wolverine is pretty much a prequel to the episode of Wolverine & the X-Men and that they reference this ‘movie’ battle in the show and also an ‘older’ version of Laura exists within the future on the show.

I like nods to the TV show, and to Laura, I wish she would have had an actual role in this movie, I wish Lady Deathstrike was featured more and this plot has been used several times but the major saving grace of this movie is the inclusion of Deadpool. I can’t really harp too much on the plot here since this is essentially the plot that they wanted to use with the episode of Wolverine & the X-Men, only now that it’s a direct to DVD release they don’t have to worry too much about censors or the fact that it would air on morning TV because it’s not marketed for children.

Special Features:

Each feature/short movie has their individual special features. Hulk VS Wolverine has a first look into Wolverine and the X-Men, an audio commentary for the feature/short movie by Craig and Chris and a series of trailers: Wolverine & the X-Men, Iron Man the video game, The Incredible Hulk video game, Ultimate Avengers: The Movie, Doctor Strange The Movie, Speed Racer the Complete Series DVDs, and Shaun the Sheep Off the Baa! Hulk VS Thor also has audio commentary by Chris and Craig, all of the same trailers and a first look at the upcoming animated feature- Thor: Tales of Asgard.

I’ll be honest I didn’t listen to the audio commentaries since I had just watched the two short features, I didn’t want to basically do it all over again just to hear the commentary. The trailers get annoying and that’s mostly because of the fact that they all play when you first start the DVD anyway, there’s not really a point in re-watching them.

The First Looks though are interesting and worth watching. Wolverine and the X-Men pretty much explains a little bit why they wanted to shake up the universe as much as they did: Charles stuck in the future, Scott being more like the Logan of old while Logan is basically acting like old school Scott Summers. The first look at the Thor feature is good; you get to see a lot of the story boards and a few quick scenes. It actually made me want to see it, even though young Thor pretty much reminds me of the 200X MYP/MVC Adam from the Masters of the Universe series from a few years ago. We do get to see some fabulous covers from previous Thor issues by Jo Chen. Seeing those covers alone made it worth watching the roughly 5 minutes of a first look at the feature. The only downside to this is that this particular feature was pushed back until 2011.

So as a DVD how does Hulk VS stand up? Well it doesn’t have quite as many special features as we’ve become accustomed to over the years when it comes to comic book animated films, but this is essentially two films for the price of one. Personally I would have liked them separated and a more fleshed out Hulk VS Thor when it came to the plot, but I love that Hulk VS Wolverine served as a sort of semi-retroactive prequel to Wolverine & the X-Men. The art is decent, I actually like the overall look of Hulk VS Thor more than Hulk VS Wolverine, but HvW is a little bit more geared to adults visually so that makes up for Wolverine looking just a bit off somehow.

I actually liked this a lot better than I thought I was going to which surprised me to no end, and honestly in my opinion it’s right up there with the best of the animated Marvel films – they do have a trend, it’s either good, horrible, or watchable and this falls on the ‘good’ side. Would I buy the DVD? I’m not sure; I can see myself watching these two features in the future, but not frequently enough to buy it. If in the future Marvel re-released a two-disc version of this with each movie on a disc and additional special features then yes I’d buy it, if for nothing more than Hulk VS Wolverine.

All in all I’m going to say that this is solid RENTING material. It’s a fun watch, maybe on a rainy day when you’ve got nothing to do, but it’s not meaty enough to warrant it being a must have in order for it to be a buy.

Rating: RENT
Special Features: Hulk VS Thor: watch Hulk VS Wolverine: skip
Hulk VS Thor: B-
Hulk VS Wolverine: B+
Overall Rating: B

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