Wednesday, January 20, 2010

“Talking man hurt Hulk! Hulk rip off talking man's head!!”

Okay, I feel the need to preface this with something of an apology. The way the Octoverride worked out, a lot of stuff got bounced around. So while in real-time, I may have thrown in 2009’s direct-to-DVD animated Hulk vs. in to take a break from Dracula movies back in late September, you get a face full of Superheroes in January.

This actually is two short films. In the first, Hulk vs. Wolverine, we find the Marvel U’s most over-exposed mutant sent back home to Canada to investigate a Hulk who rampaged through several towns. And by “investigate,” I mean stab a lot. This only makes the Hulk madder, then both he and Wolverine get captured by the Weapon X Program, a shadowy Canadian government organization that was responsible for giving Wolverine his adamantium skeleton and is now staffed by superhumans that want to see Logan dead.

In Hulk vs. Thor, we get some Asgardian politics where the trickster God Loki summons Bruce Banner to Asgard, magically manages to separate Banner and the Hulk, then sends the Hulk to break stuff in Asgard while Odin is in the middle of his “Odinsleep” (essentially a long nap that leaves the rest of the gods vulnerable). Its up to Thor to put a stop to Loki’s machinations. And by “put a stop to” I mean hit things with a hammer.

Bruce Banner: The Hulk’s human form is voiced by Bryce Johnson, and puny Banner doesn’t show up much in these. When he does, its mostly to plead with people not to agitate him/the Hulk.

The Hulk: Fred Tatasciore (from Mass Effect and the animated Iron Man movie) is great as the perpetually angry big green guy. Basically, this hulk is the “dumb but talkative” version (which is  a personal favorite) which leads to some good comedy. Of course, the Hulk is also a monster when it comes to fighting, and the battle with Wolverine is particularly brutal.

Wolverine: Steven Blum, who’s one of the big names in voice acting for the last decade, and the current official “voice” of Wolverine, plays…wait for it…Wolverine. Wolvie’s the grumpy, short, nearly impossible to kill Canucklehead we’ve all grown to love through overexposure, and the PG-13 rating of the movie means that he and the Hulk can just go nuts on each other.

The Weapon X Department: There’s a bunch of them, so let’s work our way through the list.

The Professor: Tom Kane is the bald, sinister director of the program, and has a claw for one of his hands.

Sabertooth: Mark Acheson is Wolverine’s arch-nemesis with almost comparable healing and no Adamantium skeleton. He’s embraced the feral side of his personality and, well, he’s always been boring.

Lady Deathstrike: Janyse Jaud is a Japanese lady with some creepy cyborg arms who’s had a messy past with Wolverine.

Omega Red: Colin Murdock is a Russian Super-Soldier/mutant with a pale complexion and two energy draining tentacles.

Deadpool: Nolan North steals the show as the completely insane Merc with a Mouth, Deadpool. And unlike that terrible Wolverine: Origins movie, he has the powers, personality, motormouth and costume of Deadpool. Possessing a healing factor even more powerful than Wolverine’s and a complete lack of inner voice or restraint, Deadpool is awesome for his one-liners and the fact that at one point the jumps onto the Hulk’s back and shoves a live grenade into the big guy’s mouth. It doesn’t work, of course, but major badass points for trying. This is Deadpool done right, and for that he’s the badass of both films, even though he’s only in one.

Thor: Matthew Wolf voices the Asgardian Thunder God who’s got to keep things together when Loki brings the Hulk to town.

Loki: Graham McTavish voices the always asshole Loki who really just wants to see his legitimate half-brother Thor suffer and/or die. Unfortunately, letting the Hulk loose in Asgard isn’t a good idea.

Amora the Enchantress: Kari Wahlgren voices a sorcerers who was spurned by Thor a while ago and kind of has a love/hate thing for him going. She teams up with Loki to get Hulk there.

The Asgardians: Okay, the film really throws in a lot of surprise residents of Asgard into the mix.

Lady Sif: Gray DeLisle voices Thor’s lover and second in command in the defense of Asgard.

Balder the Brave: Michael Adamthwaite voices one of Asgard’s more steadfast warriors and a good buddy of Thor’s.

The Warriors Three: Holy Shit! They actually put the Warriors Three into this. Fandral the Dashing (Johnathan Holmes), Hogun the Grim (Paul Dobson) and Volstagg the Voluminous (Jay Brazeau) don’t do a whole lot, but damn, they’re actually in this. Major props for that. If it weren’t for Deadpool, they’d be the collective badass just for being put in.

Hela: Janyse Jaud voices the Asgardian goddess of the underworld who’s also Loki’s daughter. She’s not a nice lady.

Frank Paur directed Hulk vs. Wolverine and Sam Liu directed Hulk vs. Thor. Both are well animated and heavily action-oriented. Actually, they’re pretty much all action oriented. And the action is nice. The Thor one does go a little bit long at about 40 minutes, but nothing game breaking.

Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost do a solid job of hitting all the right character notes quickly then getting to the “Hulk Smash” parts. Nothing complicated, but solid nonetheless.

The original score by Guy Michelmore is appropriate and fitting.

There’s really not lot to either of these short films. Hulk Gets Mad. Hulk Smashes Things. Deadpool Behaves Awesomely. Simple, but with an animation style that is very conducive to fluid and surprisingly brutal action scenes, it’s a really fun dose of straightforward power fantasy.

No comments: