by Mel Valentin
"Hulk Vs.," Marvel Animationís latest addition to their rapidly growing catalogue of straight-to-video (DTV) animated titles (e.g., "Next Avengers," "Dr. Strange," "The Invincible Iron Man," "Ultimate Avengers I and II"), is actually two shorts or mini-films in one, "Hulk vs. Wolverine," a throwback to the Hulkís first encounter with Wolverine, and "Hulk vs. Thor," where, contrary to the title, the Hulk takes on not just Thor, but Thorís fellow gods and goddesses in a bloody battle instigated by Thorís duplicitous stepbrother, the trickster god Loki. Similar in tone and style and strong on action (as "Hulk"-centered tales tend to be), but weak story wise, "Hulk Vs." is, at best, fan service and, at worst (for non-fans), dully executed, repetitive fight scenes, and a flat, cheap-looking visual style thatís undermined Marvel Animationís previous efforts.Hulk vs. Wolverine takes its cue from Wolverineís first comic book appearance, The Incredible Hulk #180 (1974). As Hulk vs. Wolverine opens, Department H, Canadaís super-secret government agency, sends Wolverine on an urgent mission to stop the Hulk, presumably responsible for destroying several villages, from continuing his rampage. Wolverine quickly discovers, however, that the Hulk isnít on a rampage: heís fleeing super-powered mercenaries Sabretooth (Mark Acheson), Omega Red (Colin Murdock), Lady Deathstrike (Jamyle Jared), and Deadpool (Nolan North). The mercenaries work for the super-secret Weapon X program that long ago kidnapped Wolverine/Logan, erased his memories, and bonded adamantium to his skeleton, and giving him retractable adamantium claws. Captured by the Weapon X team and their leader, Abraham Cornelius (Tom Kane), Wolverine has to escape, find Bruce Banner (Bryce Johnson), and reawaken Bannerís inner rage machine before he meets the Weapon X team in combat again.
"The ultimate in fan-service by Marvel Animation."
In Hulk vs. Thor, the ever-scheming Loki (Graham McTavish) convinces Amora (Kari Wahlgren), an enchantress and Thorís (Matthew Wolf) ex-lover, to bring Bruce Banner (Bryce Johnson again) to Asgard, the mythical home of the Norse Gods. Using Amoraís powers to amplify his own, Loki separates Banner and the Hulk and takes over the Hulkís mind. Loki sends the Hulk against Asgardís defenders, Volstagg (Jay Brazeau), Fandral (Jonathan Holmes), Hogun (Paul Dobson), and Balder (Michael Adamthwaite). Armed with Mjolnar (Thorís hammer), he arrives too late to save his friends from the Hulkís rage and, despite a valiant effort, loses the first battle against the Hulk. A triumphant Loki loses control over the Hulk, sending him scuttling for help from Thor. Thorís lover, Sif (Grey DeLisle), stands between the Hulk and a sleeping Odin (French Tickner), Thorís father and the leader of the Asgardians.
Despite the DVD title and the ďvs.Ē titles of the mini-films, the Hulk is actually a secondary character in Hulk vs. Wolverine and Hulk vs. Thor. The Hulk doesnít interact with any of supervillains from his self-titled, long-running comic book. Instead, the Hulk interacts with characters from Wolverine and Thorís mini-worlds, respectively. In Hulk vs. Wolverine, heís a misunderstood Frankensteinís monster and pursued by super-powered mercenaries, blamed by the authorities for crimes against humanity he didnít commit, and immediately attacked by Wolverine. In Hulk vs. Thor, the Hulk is merely a passive, reactive pawn in Lokiís plans to defeat Thor and the other Asgardians who, unsurprisingly, canít be controlled. Outside of a dream sequence, Bruce Banner barely gets any screen time and when he does, heís depicted as weak-willed and angst ridden.Misleading advertising and titles aside, the real problem with "Hulk Vs." lies in the bland, uninspired animation thatís beset Marvel Animationís previous releases. Backgrounds lack texture or detail and character designs, and while clearly inspired by their comic book antecedents, also fail to rise above Saturday morning cartoon quality. In the case of "Hulk vs. Wolverine," it makes some sense since the Wolverine we meet here is meant to resemble the Wolverine in the recently debuted "Wolverine and the X-Men" animated series. A less violent, bloodier version of Wolverineís first encounter with the Hulk will be shown in the television series (episode seven). Not surprisingly, "Hulk vs. Wolverine" is rated PG-13 for ďintense bloody animated violenceĒ (note the appropriate addition of the word ďbloodyĒ to the description). "Hulk vs. Thor" is also rated PG-13 for ďanimated action violenceĒ (minus the ďbloodyĒ).
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=18391&reviewer=402
originally posted: 01/28/09 04:00:00