Lionsgate // 2009 // 78 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // February 5th, 2009
Twice the action. Twice the carnage. Double the smash.
If you ask any comic book fan who the toughest superhero is, you'll likely get different answers. Some might give you the standard Superman, Captain America, or Spider-Man, but I'd be willing to bet my x-ray vision and spandex suit the majority of the votes will come back with Hulk, Thor, or Wolverine. The only thing cooler than those characters on their own is a head-to-head battle between them. Welcome to Hulk Vs. on Blu-ray.
What does it take to stop the Hulk you ask? Only two of the Marvel Universe's most resilient heroes -- Wolverine and Thor -- have what it takes to step into the ring with the green giant. Who will emerge victorious from these ultimate matches? Pull up a chair, give Hulk Vs. a spin and find out, as you watch two short but sweet animated features:
Hulk Vs. Wolverine
The Hulk is loose and on a rampage through the Canadian wilderness, wreaking havoc along the way. Unable to stop the emerald behemoth, Department H, a top secret branch of the Canadian government, calls on Wolverine to either take Hulk down or take him out. Wolverine's Adamantium-laced skeleton, razor-sharp claws, and accelerated healing factor are not only cool, they're a necessity, as he comes face-to-face with the grumpy green giant.
Hulk Vs. Thor
Always jealous of his brother Thor and looking for ways to get rid of him, the Norse god Loki seizes an opportunity to separate Bruce Banner from his Hulk alter ego. With the Hulk under his control, Loki commands the only being who can match Thor in sheer physical strength. It's a battle between god and monster, the likes of which no one has ever seen.
How can you even begin to talk about superheroes? From the houses of Marvel and DC come legends like Captain America, Superman, and Wonder Woman...heroes every child has idolized and marveled over since comics first graced newsstands around the world. What is it about superheroes that fascinate us so much? Is it their virtue and desire to protect the innocent? Sure. Is it their cool cars and clothes? You bet. But with icons like the Hulk, Wolverine, and Thor, for me at least, it's their astounding ability to take a supreme beating and still get up to deliver it back to their opponent in kind.
If you're a comic book fan who is at all familiar with these characters, Hulk Vs. is a real treat. It's a ringside seat at two of the most epic battles imaginable, involving three of biggest stars in the Marvel Universe. While there is some plot to support the festivities, the creators know that fans are really looking for a pitched battle between two unique and nearly equally matched opponents.
While nowhere near as strong as Hulk, Wolverine's sheer ferocity and endurance makes Hulk Vs. Wolverine a pretty fair fight. For every brutally crushing punch Hulk can throw, Wolverine can not only take it, but he's right there again, claws bared, to return the favor. I won't spoil the ending or some of the highlights along the way, but as a big Wolverine fan, I enjoyed the experience from beginning to end.
Thor is a totally different character from Wolverine, but no less of a match for Hulk. After all, no matter what else he may be, Thor is a god. Add that to the fact that Hulk is the only mortal to ever match his strength, and you can imagine the epic battle in store in Hulk Vs. Thor.
Hulk Vs. is the latest animated feature from Marvel and Lionsgate, a worthy addition to the library that includes two Ultimate Avengers films, The Invincible Iron Man, Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme, and Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow. Despite being direct-to-DVD releases, Marvel has taken care to treat its heroes with the respect they deserve, delivering high-quality releases of all their animated productions and Hulk Vs. may actually be the cream of the crop to date.
Hulk Vs. Wolverine and Hulk Vs. Thor are pretty impressive short features, especially on Blu-ray. While the color palette appears somewhat muted, this was likely the intention of the creative teams. The muted tones give the content a real-world feeling, rather than a Saturday morning cartoon dynamic with bright colors. The 1080p picture is astounding, delivering amazing depth and dimensionality to the 2-D world. Although I don't have a 7.1 speaker system at my disposal, I was impressed by the audio quality in both features. Solid use of the low and surround channels, as well as clear dialogue, music and effects, come together to deliver a sonic experience that is particularly surprising for a direct-to-DVD animated title.
Also impressive is the volume of bonus material. Both features include two commentaries: one with co-writers Craig Kyle and Chris Yost, the other with director Frank Paur and storyboard artists Kevin Altieri and Butch Lucik. Between the two, you'll leave both features with a wealth of knowledge about the productions themselves and possibly even some additional tidbits about their legendary characters.
"This Is Gonna Hurt: The Making of Hulk vs. Wolverine" and "Of Gods and Monsters: The Making of Hulk vs. Thor" give the viewer a quick look behind the scenes. "Fan Frenzy: Hulk Vs. Wolverine at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con" is, well, just as you'd expect from the title...a look at the reception the project received at its Comic-Con screening. "First Look: Wolverine and the X-Men" provides fans a peek at the 2008 animated TV series, and "First Look: Thor Tales of Asgard" gives a little taste of a new direct-to-DVD feature to be released in September 2009. Rounding out the extras, and specifically for fans of the Mighty Thor, "Jack Kirby and Thor" deals with the origins of the character and his legendary creator.
This really is just petty niggling here, but with Hulk Vs. Wolverine coming in at around 33 minutes, and Hulk Vs. Thor coming in at 45 minutes, I was disappointed it all ended so quickly. But, as the saying goes, "always leave them wanting more."
One important caveat: This is not a film for young children, so don't let the fact that it's animated fool you. There is some mild language, rather intense violence, and somewhat disturbing scenes. A parental preview is definitely recommended.
Hulk Vs. is a heroic value, not just for fans of the Hulk, Wolverine, and Thor, but for comic book and animated film fans in general. The level of quality and depth of content are extremely impressive, especially for two short direct-to-DVD animated features. Strong writing, solid animation, and exceptional voice acting make this a "must have" title for any comic book fan.
The past few years have treated comic book and superhero fans to some amazing visuals and great storytelling, both in theaters and on DVD. Hulk Vs. easily lands near the top of that illustrious list.
Review content copyright © 2009 Kent Dixon; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)
* DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 78 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13