Saturday, May 5, 2012

Marvel Animated Features: 3-Movie Collection Blu-ray Review

In an attempt to cash in on the release of the big-screen Avengers movie (which was incredible), Lionsgate has re-released this trio of movies that were previously released individually into this new collected set.  Marvel has put out a bunch of animated movies but this collection includes Planet Hulk, The Invincible Iron Man, and Doctor Strange.  As you'd expect, some of these are better than others, but it's still a nice and cost effective way to complete your Marvel collection.

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

Easily the best movie in the set was Planet Hulk, which tells the tale of the Avengers sending the Hulk into space to travel to a new planet because he has grown too dangerous to remain on Earth.  Betrayed by people he trusted, the already paranoid Hulk messes up the spaceship's navigation and ends up on a different planet than the one he was originally being sent to.  His temperament doesn't improve when he's enslaved and forced into gladiatorial games by a tyrannical despot.  Hulk finds himself being made a hero of the Sakaar people even against his wishes and efforts.  There's a lot of emotion in this movie and one scene in particular is very sad but effectively done.  The movie gives the Hulk an interesting arc that really sets up what would have been a sequel based on the World War Hulk story-line but so far that hasn't happened which is a shame.

The Invincible Iron Man was the movie that I thought would the one that I would like the most but this Iron Man can't hold a candle to the live action movie starring Robert Downey Jr..  The script for the movie isn't that good and the voice acting is pretty bad as well. The origin story was poorly done and I really didn't like the changes made to the characters either.  Rhodey is now his friend/foreman and Howard Stark is still alive and is willing to sell his son out to make his board of directors happy.  In this movie Iron Man brings back the Mandarin which causes a lot of problems for him to fix but in this version at least, it's not very interesting.

The third movie, Doctor Strange, is my least favorite of this set because the character is essentially portrayed as a Tony Stark wannabe as he has all of the arrogance but none of the charm from Stark which offsets his rough edges.  Stephen Strange is a jerk to everyone for no good reason and all he cares about is money and prestige.  When he loses his ability to use a scalpel he goes into a tailspin and learns that he's burned so many bridges that he really doesn't have anyone to turn to for help.  He's ready to kill himself rather than deal with his new reality but he winds up in Tibet to learn from some monks on how to use his talents in another fashion. While this movie isn't that great, it is the most bloodthirsty of the group since a lot of the characters and civilians are killed.  It's definitely not for small children. 

Here are the original descriptions for each:
  • Planet Hulk - A whole new world of hurt! He was a monster, impossible to control, too dangerous to ignore. So Earth's mightiest heroes exiled him into outer space. But now the Incredible Hulk crash lands on the distant planet Sakaar, ruled by the tyrannical Red King. Sold into slavery, Hulk becomes the planet's mightiest gladiator-but his new masters get more than they bargained for when he forges a bond of brotherhood with his fellow fighters. Unlike Earth, the desperate people of Sakaar believe a monster is just what they need. But will the Hulk be the one to save their world...or destroy it?

  • The Invincible Iron Man - Past and present collide in this epic adventure that reveals the origin of Iron Man. While raising the ruins of a long buried Chinese kingdom, billionaire inventor Tony Stark digs up far more than he originally thought. He unleashes an age-old prophecy that foretells the resurrection of the Mandarin, the emperor of China's darkest and most violent dynasty. In order to confront the destructive force, Tony creates an armored suit infused with high-tech weaponry. To stop the evil that he himself has raised from the earth, Tony must become his greatest invention ever-Iron Man! The newly born champion must travel to the four corners of the earth to battle the Mandarin's henchmen, the Elementals - four magical warriors who harness the power of the elements-earth, water, wind and fire-with deadly chemistry. But is the Iron Knight, as he his known in the prophecy, strong enough to defy fate and turn back the malevolent forces hellbent on Earth's destruction.

  • Doctor Strange - Join us as Dr. Stephen Strange embarks on a wondrous journey to the heights of a Tibetan mountain, where he seeks healing at the feet of the mysterious Ancient One. But before his wounds can mend, Strange must first let go of his painful past, and awaken a gift granted to very few. The gift of magic. Empowered as the new Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Strange now tests his limits, rising up against monsters that push at the gates, facing the most terrifying entity humankind has ever known.

Video (4 out of 5 stars)

Out of the three movies Planet Hulk looks the best with the Invincible Iron Man being the worst.  All of them offer vibrant colors but the differences in quality are due to detail and clarity.  Hulk looks fantastic, Strange is pretty solid, while Iron Man's transfer looks like DVD quality.  Black levels are generally good and dark and for the most part this set looks pretty good with the exception of Iron Man.

Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

The three movies' DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 tracks fare a lot better than the visual quality as each one of them offers a robust track that delivers the action across all of the channels.  Dialogue is always clear and intelligible and the musical scores all sound great.  The rear channels spread the action across the room with some excellent directionality and accuracy.  Once again, Planet Hulk is the winner of the three but all three of them sound good.  

Extras (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

All of these have interesting extras but once again the one to beat is Planet Hulk.  I did like having the video game cinematics added though.  That was a nice touch.

Planet Hulk:
  • Audio Commentary with Joshua Fine and Greg Johnson
  • Audio Commentary with Sam Liu, Philip Bourassa and Steve Nicodermus
  • A Whole World of Hurt: The Making of Planet Hulk 
  • Let the Smashing Commence! The Saga of Planet Hulk 
  • Opening Sequence: Thor: Tales of Asgard 
  • Wolverine and the X-Men: “Wolverine vs. Hulk” Episode 
  • Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D. Motion Comic 
  • Astonishing X-Men: Gifted Motion Comic 
  • “Watch Your Step” – Spider-Woman Music Video 
  • “Rise Up” Astonishing X-Men Music Video 
  • Hulk Online Games Trailer 
Doctor Strange:
  • Marvel Video Game Cinematics:
  • X-Men Legends 2
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance
  • The Origin of Doctor Strange 
  • A First Look at Avengers Reborn 
  • Doctor Strange Concept Art 
The Invincible Iron Man:
  • First Look: Hulk vs. Wolverine 
  • First Look: Hulk vs. Thor 
  • Alternate Opening Sequence 
  • The Origin of Iron Man 
  • The Hall of Iron Man Armor
  • Iron Man Concept Art 

Summary (4 out of 5 stars)

I'm not sure why the three chosen for this set include two movies that have nothing to capitalize on The Avengers with the exception of the Hulk, but perhaps it was because they are saving the others involving the Hulk and Thor for an upcoming set.  While not all of these are high quality releases, you can't beat the price to have all three in one set.

Order your copy today!

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