tek's rating: ½

Planet Hulk
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Okay, the Hulk has never been one of my favorite comic book characters, but he's alright. Um... this movie wasn't exactly the way I think of him. For one thing, he never reverted to Bruce Banner at all, but I suppose I've seen other stuff where that's the case. But the main thing is, it's not set on Earth at all. At the start of the movie, the Hulk is in a spaceship, which he's been put in against his will by other heroes, and there's a message playing from Iron Man. Apparently, they finally decided he's just too dangerous, and because he always said he wanted to be left alone, they've sent him off to land on some uninhabited planet where he can't hurt anyone. However, he breaks loose of his restraints and smashes the controls, so his trajectory gets altered, and he ends up on a different planet.

Meanwhile, there's a lot going on on this other planet, called Sakaar. (I dunno if this planet has ever been in any other comics, I mean besides the specific story on which the movie is based.) I wish we could have learned more about the planet's history. It seems that the native inhabitants are a race of buglike people, who seem to have their own sort of racial divide or something, but that's not really explored. They all seem to have been subjugated at some point by people who I presume to be from still another planet (but I could be wrong about that). They look fairly human... well, actually, there are two humanoid races, one grey and one red, though I'm not clear on whether they were the same species or not. But in any event, they seem to be part of the same empire which is currently in control of Sakaar. At some point in the past (though clearly well after the humanoids had settled here; assuming they're not natives), the planet suffered a sort of invasion of unknown origins, in which these "spike" things were launched from like a missile or ship or whatever, and the spikes (apparently some kind of parasites) infected people and transformed them into monsters, who immediately started attacking all those around them who hadn't yet been infected. These spikes were stopped, however, by a boy called the Red Prince, who in the present is called the Red King (though he's also called the Emperor). He had claimed to be the Sakaarson, a warrior whose coming had been foretold by some prophecy. Also, there's something which I think was called an "oldstrong," which I guess are people who for some reason are really strong and practically indestructible. There was a 13-year-old grey-skinned girl named Caiera who was an oldstrong, and survived when her village was attacked by the spikes. She went with the Red Prince, and now serves as the Red King's lieutenant.

Anyway, when Hulk crashes on Sakaar, he's soon imprisoned by Imperial guards or whatever, who transport him to the colosseum to fight for the amusement of the Red King and other imperials. There are several other prisoners with him, including a grey-skinned man named Hiroim, who was an outcast Shadow Priest, who refused to accept that the Red King was the true Sakaarson; an alien named Korg, who is made of stone; one of the planet's buglike inhabitants named Miek; a red-skinned woman named Elloe, who was the daughter of some local governor who had founded a resistance against the Red King; and a couple other prisoners who were killed fairly early in the movie. Anyway, they all have to fight together against enemies in the arena, and apparently if they win three rounds, they'll be granted their freedom. The others try to befriend Hulk, though he isn't really interested in friendship or cooperation. He does, however, want to fight the Red King. Oh, I wanted to mention that at one point, the other prisoners go through this sort of ceremony in which they become "warbound," by telling each other their life stories or whatever, but Hulk doesn't take part in this. We get to hear Hiroim and Korg's backstories, but not Elloe's or Miek's, which I found a bit annoying. I would have liked to learned more about them. Meanwhile, even though Hulk isn't really cooperating, he does take part in the arena battles, and is a big part of why his "team" keeps winning. And the spectators as well as prisoners start thinking Hulk is the true Sakaarson, even though he himself doesn't want to be.

Anyway, I don't really want to say more about the plot, or how it ends. But it was definitely better than I expected, even if the basic premise is far from original. I mean, it was more complicated than I would have expected, and I think the fact that I found myself wanting to know more about the characters and the history of Sakaar really says something. Um... I should also mention that the movie apparently differs in some ways from the comics on which it's based, though I can't say how different, since I haven't read the original story. Anyway... I thought the animation was okay, if nothing special. The battles were okay, too. Not sure what else to say, except that Caiera was actually the most interesting character, and I liked how her role in the story evolved, over time....


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