Sunday, September 13, 2009

DVD Review: Hulk Vs.

Hulk Vs. is a direct-to-DVD project, released last January, which we've been meaning to see for some time. The DVD differs from prior Marvel offering in a few respects. Firstly, rather than contain a single, full length feature, it contains two miniature films.

Secondly, unlike prior direct-to-DVD releases from Marvel it is really, really good. "How good?" you may ask. "DC good," we would answer.

Yes, it has taken seventeen years, but Marvel has finally released an animated picture that rivals the quality of what DC has been making since Batman: The Animated Series came out in 1992. That isn't to say that Hulk Vs. is as good as the BEST of DC's work, but it stands up to the average.

As has already been stated, Hulk Vs. represents two separate films: Hulk Vs. Thor and Hulk Vs. Wolverine. Both titles, we should add, are intrinsically misleading. The Middle Room applauds the makers of these pictures for upholding this tradition from the comics.

Hulk Vs. Thor, while intriguing, is the less of the two movies. Focusing on Asgard, the film is largely a fantasy, and it lacks the strength of design to pull this off. That said, many of the characters are enjoyable to watch. In particular, Loki succeeds in his greatest ploy yet, effectively stealing the show.

The second feature, Hulk Vs. Wolverine, is the shorter of the two. Almost immediately, it moves into slapstick and maintains that tone for most of the movie. Rather than come off as cloying, however, the comedy is absolutely hilarious. It helps, perhaps, that the slapstick involves bone crushing blows, brutal stabbing, and violent dismemberment. It's all in good fun, though.

In a sense, the middle third of this movie serves as a dissertation, explaining in painstaking detail why so many comic book fans love Deadpool. Prior to watching this film, his popularity has always baffled us. But now, we understand.

In addition to the comedy, the film somehow had time to delve into Weapon X and the origins of Wolverine. In a few scant minutes, they accomplished this to far better effect than X-Men Origins: Wolverine did in its entire run time (our memories are a tad hazy, but after careful debate, we believe that movie was somewhere around four hours in length).

Hulk Vs. Wolverine should also be commended on its animation, which involves a complex style blending elements of anime, comic books, and traditional animation. The resulting style is exciting and visually appealing. In addition, both this and the Thor segment contained impressive voice acting, good scoring, and strong directing.

The genre of superhero comedy is a strange one, including such underrated pictures as Mystery-Men, last year's Wonder Woman, and Sky High. Hulk Vs. is a worthy addition to this list.

The epitome of superhero animation thus far is of course The Incredibles, and that's the yard stick we've held others to. Against that, we award Hulk Vs. the same distinction we gave to Wonder Woman: three and a half stars.

While we've enjoyed some of Marvel's previous offerings - namely Dr. Strange and Next Avengers - this is far and above the best of their direct-to-DVD features. Between this and their current line-up of animated programs, they've become an impressive force in animation.

1 comment:

ZaK Kauffman said...

Fun little movies that do well on the small screen