Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hulk Vs - Twice The Carnage, But Not Twice The Fun

Before I start, I should mention that I'm not very well versed in the Marvel universe, but I've always been very curious about it. Thanks to some crossover events, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and word of mouth however, I have been able to learn about it to the point where I can at least understand what happened in the character's early years and part of what's going on with them now. Because of this, I became curious about Hulk Vs and decided to watch it. Released in 2009 by Lionsgate around the time Marvel Animation began making animated series, Hulk Vs turned out to be an entertaining duo of shorts revolving around the Hulk battling Wolverine and Thor. While they do manage to show how much the creators knew about the respective universes, there are some major differences between the two that cause them to stand out with mixed results.

To begin, Hulk Vs Wolverine shows the two of them first meeting, with Wolverine tasked to stop the Hulk's rampage through Canada. Logan tracks him down by using his toxic scent, having a run-in with Banner that causes their fight to begin. This part provides some great thrills and displays just how competent both are in a  fight, as well as a realistic underwater brawl. With the inclusion of a Weapon X plot, there still isn't any shortage of action as the two of them take on Sabretooth, Omega Red, Deathstrike, and Deadpool (who I must say is absolutely hilarious).

The carnage throughout the short, though bloody, is made interesting by using an art style inspired by anime and a suitably dark color palette. It's also notably fast paced, which helped to keep me invested until even after the credits. The flashback to Wolverine's backstory proved interesting and helped to establish what Weapon X is, but felt slightly out of place in the grand scheme of things. In the end, it was a lot of fun to watch and made me want to watch more of it.

However, the same cannot be said of its cousin, Hulk Vs Thor. Here, the Norse God Loki has managed to abduct Bruce Banner. With the aid of the Enchantress, Amora, he is able to separate Bruce Banner from the Hulk so that he may use its raw power to take over Asgard during the Odinsleep. At first he succeeds, but the arrival of Thor serves to throw a wrench in his plans as he tries to stop the Hulk from destroying the land of the gods. Unfortunately, the ensuing struggle quickly becomes boring due to the one-sided nature of the fight. The Hulk is able to dispatch of everything, god or otherwise, in its way with incredible ease, taking away a lot of the tension that made Vs Wolverine fun to watch. This isn't helped by the fact that the plot is more focused on Banner than the title characters.

While I do like the look of the noticeably cleaner style and brighter color palette, it doesn't take away from the fact that the story would only make sense to those who know about every character in the Thor universe. The ones that do show up are hardly explained save for name and relation, and the deeper character relationships present are more confusing than anything. Even though some of the scenes are impressive to watch, the slow pacing makes the short less enjoyable and gave me less of an incentive to re-watch it.

At this point, I'd like to point out that both parts of the DVD have some great qualities shared between them. The voice acting is top notch, especially Steve Blum as Wolverine and Nolan North as Deadpool. In addition, the music manages to fit the tone of each story perfectly and the distinctive styles at least offer more of a variety for the senses.

In the end, Hulk Vs proves itself to be a good offering, even if it feels like a mixed bag. While I did enjoy the Wolverine short a bit more, I'm sure there are people who would enjoy the Thor half as well. This is a DVD that I would recommend any Marvel fan to own, even those who want it only for a single character appearance.

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