First a disclaimer for those of you in romantic relationships: Sunday, February 14, is VALENTINE’S DAY, for chrissakes. Yes, it’s a bullshit, consumerist attempt to guilt you into equating love with spending money, but unless your significant other has been diagnosed with chronic, World of Warcraft-induced agoraphobia, spending the night watching a straight-to-DVD animated comic-book adaptation means you are a horrible, horrible partner, and the lack of laid you’ll be getting is nature’s way of telling you your genes will no longer be required. All the single ladies and dudes, however, may proceed to the next paragraph.
Planet Hulk, based on a recent Marvel comics storyline, takes a lesson from its superior direct-to-DVD predecessor, Hulk Vs., show as little of Bruce Banner as possible. Planet goes Vs. one better in fact, and features Hulk’s lame, scrawny scientist counterpart in name only, sparing us the whole “you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” bit and the eternal “how do his purple hot pants get bigger, too?” question entirely, and cutting straight to the hot hulking action. The emotional aspects of the human-into-monster transformation were probably interesting when Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde hit London streets in 1886 and reading books was the only available distraction from watching your children die of the black lung, but these days we’ve got hours of Tivoed Tool Academy to get through, and all we’ve got time for is “Hulk smash!”
Without getting into more background information than necessary, the premise is this: Iron Man and some other super heroes have grown tired of Hulk’s pissy green-giant act, so they’ve launched him into outerspace. Not wishing to kill him, they’ve loaded Hulk (Wasserman) onto a spaceship bound for a hospitable planet inhabited only by lower lifeforms. Upon hearing this information, Hulk gets (spoiler alert) very angry. He begins destroying the ship’s onboard computer, which causes it to crash land on a populated planet, where he’s taken prisoner by the Red King (Hildreth). As a slave, Hulk’s forced to fight for his freedom in gladiatorial combat against hostile alien creatures and giant killbots. Essentially it’s the movie Gladiator with a huge green Russel Crowe stand-in and sci-fi mythos not quite comprehensible to those who haven’t read the yearlong comic series. What translates perfectly, though, is the nearly nonstop violence and destruction, with no valuable lessons to be learned other than “punching stuff rules.” If cartoons were this awesome when I was a child, I probably would’ve had to repeat third grade. I’m not discouraging you from buying this for your kids, but if you’ve got an impressionable youngster (or a grown man who still sleeps in Batman pajamas) in your house, you should probably take the breakables out of the TV room. Sorry about the coffee table, honey. — Jeremy Martin