Banished to a planet far away can this incredible Hulk adjust to his new surroundings? Is he the one that Sakaar has been looking for? The movie is based on the comic book series of the same name written by Greg Pak.
With his rage becoming too much of a concern for the world, earth’s super heroes have combined to dispatch Hulk to some far off world. As he awakens in his space shuttle to discover his fate, the rage of the original Green Giant sets the shuttle off course and it crash lands on an inhabited planet. He is captured by the Imperial Guard of the planet who renders him powerless to resist him through an obedience disk lodged in Hulk’s chest.
Enslaved and used as a gladiator for entertainment our hero soon becomes a figure of fascination as he is able to overcome the various monsters and powerful robots set against him and a motley crew of other gladiators enslaved for different reasons mostly centred on rebellion against the ruler of Sakaar – the Red King. Each gladiatorial bout is played out in front of the King who recognises immediately that the Hulk poses a threat to him and after an initial brief skirmish decides to plot some way of bringing down his enemy without losing face in front of his people. The rest of the film explores how Hulk gains his freedom and immediately must become a fugitive and the result of his subsequent clash with the Red King.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable feature length cartoon. The storytelling is good, the animation is good, the voice work is good and the overall effect is a considerably admirable effort on the parts of the makers. Watching it you can see echoes of other films like Empire Strikes Back and Gladiator, but that doesn’t detract from the story. The characters are strong throughout the movie. Often it is easy to relegate certain characters to caricatures for the sake of convenience, but a lot of care and attention is put into ensuring all the characters have some substance to them. That is sometimes achieved through the back-story device that they employ during the gladiator parts.
The trick of sci-fi and super hero writing is that even in telling a tale of a planet far away with different creatures, etc. the themes that emerge are still very much ones that people can relate to. This tells the intriguing turn in the view on Hulk from rampaging monster, to Messiah-like awe, especially with the green blood bringing vegetation wherever it falls. It’s a realistic process of getting the Hulk to catch up with those perspectives on him and it works tremendously well.
Cartoons have an interesting relationship with violence. Often it’s slapstick and the intent is to make it something that all viewers will consider unbelievable and farcical. In this cartoon the violence is graphic. Even using aliens the concept of blood and death is still very real if not necessarily morosely dark. For that I would concur with the 12 rating for it. This is not a graphic novel type movie though. The themes are simple the story would appeal to the same folks who enjoyed Star Wars.
What is also intriguing from the perspective of an admirer of comic books, super heroes and particularly Hulk, is how much the story is solely about Hulk. Bruce Banner plays absolutely no part in this film at all and that is something to be applauded. This echoes the commitment of integrity throughout the venture that makes it such a enjoyable film worth the watch.