REVIEW: ANDROMEDA – SEASON 2

Starring

Kevin Sorbo( Hercules: TLJ)
Lisa Ryder (Jason X)
Keith Hamilton Cobb (All My Children)
Gordon Michael Woolvett (Bride of Chucky)
Laura Bertram (50/50)
Brent Stait (Blade: The Series)
Lexa Doig (Arrow)

Kevin Sorbo in Andromeda (2000)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Gerard Plunkett (Sucker Punch)
Anthony Lemke (Robocop: Prime Directives)
Peter Kelamis (Stargate Universe)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Anne Marie DeLuise (Strange Empire)
Enuka Okuma (Impulse)
Rachel Hayward (Jingle All The Way 2)
John DeSantis (Arrow)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
Kendall Cross (X-Men 2)
Steve Bacic (Flash Gordon)
Françoise Yip (The Order)
Sam Sorbo (Hercules: TLJ)
James Marsters (Runaways)
Jud Tylor (That 70s Show)
Alex Diakun (Agent Cody Banks)
Steven Grayhm (White Chicks)
Timothy Webber (North of 60)
Mark Hildreth (V)
Kimberly Huie (Deep Impact)
Kevin McNulty (Fantastic FOur)
Travis MacDonald (Highlander: The Series)
Kristin Lehman (The Loft)
Heather Hanson (G-Spot)
Costas Mandylor (Saw V)
Cynthia Preston (Carrie)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Michael Hurst (Hercules: TLJ)
Christopher Judge (Stargate SG.1)
Andee Frizzell (stargate: Atlantis)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Series)
Dylan Bierk (Jason X)
Marion Eisman (Riverdale)
David Lovgren (Antitrust)
Ellie Harvie (The New Addams Family)

Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)Andromeda starred Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: The Legendary Journey’s) in a science fiction series created by Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek) with a variety of executive producers Robert Hewitt Wolfe (The 4400, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Majel Rodenberry (Earth: Final Conflict), Allan Eastman (Star Trek: Voyager), Robert Engels (seaQuest DSV), Jay Firestone (Mutant X, La Femme Nikita), and Adam Haight (Mutant X, Highlander: The Raven). With its diverse crew of producers with extensive experience in science fiction and drama productions, Andromeda put in five solid seasons from 2000 to 2005 and totaled one-hundred and ten episodes. The premise of Andromeda is about the adventures of the crew the Andromeda and their efforts to rebuild a massive civilization that spanned the universeLexa Doig in Andromeda (2000)In season two, Dylan’s quest becomes more of a reality. The Renewed Systems Commonwealth represents more than just the unity and peace Dylan envisions; it is, as Dylan hunt says, a necessity. In the season one finale “It’s Hour Come ‘Round at Last”, Harper took a look around inside Andromeda’s code and found a backup copy of Andromeda’s core. He accidentally restored the backup. Andromeda went out of control and took the crew on a top secret mission. To make matters worse, the mission takes the crew deep into Magog territory, where the Andromeda runs into a Magog Worldship. The Worldship is a transportable solar system, with multiple planets and an artificial sun.Keith Hamilton Cobb in Andromeda (2000)The Worldship houses trillions of Magog and gives them the power to destroy stars. The Magog are traveling towards the known worlds with plans of conquest and destruction. In the close of the episode, the Magog have overrun the Andromeda and the crew’s fate is desperate: Trance, Beka, and Dylan are unconscious and near death, Tyr and Harper are being held by the Magog, Rommie had a pike shoved in her stomach, Rev Bem is being converted to the Magog cause, and the Andromeda Ascendant is in critical condition.Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)The second season premiere episode “The Widening Gyre” continues where season one left off. Despite the direness of the situation, they overcome their individual situations and manage to free themselves of capture. The real excitement introduced in this story is the notion of the Magog and the Worldship. The Spirit of the Abyss, a being that acts as the Magog’s God, is leading the Magog on a quest of utter destruction. This threat becomes a staple for the Andromeda crew to fight off. A Renewed Systems Commonwealth is a necessity. Fortunately for the crew, they have some time until the Worldship reaches space of the known world–two or three years. In the fourth and fifth seasons, the Spirit of the Abyss and the Magog are a major port of the season story arcs. In the meantime, season two has an episode “Into the Labyrinth” with another assassin sent by the Abyss that runs into the crew.Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)The Magog still are at the front of the stories and a key reason for the new Commonwealth. And Dylan works feverishly to recruit planets to his cause. In the episode “Home Fires”, Dylan receives a message from his long dead fiance. After the initial fall of the Commonwealth, a group sought refuge on a planet called Tarazed and for three hundred years, they have survived as the last remnants of the old way of life. Dylan learns that the people of Tarazed and goes to the planet to get them to join the new Commonwealth. They, however, do not. When he arrives at the planet, he finds a familiar face, that of his former first officer Gaheris. But it is a genetic clone named Telemachus Rhade. Dylan and Rhade are hesitant to trust each other. The story takes an interesting turn in the development of the relationship Dylan had with Gaheris, as well as introduces Rhade, who joins the cast in season four.Sonya Salomaa in Andromeda (2000)The episodes “Into the Labyrinth”, “Bunker Hill”, and “The Prince” are more episodes focused on the restoration of the Commonwealth with the cast in diplomatic missions, facing with spies, political corruption, and other such things. “Into the Labyrinth” sees a Nietzschean clan Saber-Jaguar joining the Commonwealth. In “Bunker Hill” the Saber-Jaguar clan invokes the Mutual Defense Pact, which requires the Andromeda join their side in combat against the Dragan clan. At the same time, Dylan sends Harper and Rommie to Earth to join the resistance movement to free human slaves under Dragan control. In “The Prince”, the crew travel to Ne’Holland to save what is left the royal family from being slaughtered. Dylan wants the planet to join the Commonwealth because it is in a key position to defend against the upcoming Magog onslaught. However, in order to get them to join, he has to save its leaders from its own people. But what Dylan did not know was that the royal family’s actions have not always been just.Lisa Ryder in Andromeda (2000)“Ouroboros” is a major episode in the series. It is the first major cast and crew changes. Rev Bem leaves the series as a regular cast member. He apparently went away to find himself. Stait, who plays Rev Bem, talks about the reason he left in his interview featurette. Another change deals with Trance. Harper builds a machine he hopes will help rid him of the Magog larvae that was implanted in him in the season premiere. The machine works, but it also does a little more and bends space and time. The crew is able to glimpse into future versions of themselves. Trance, in particular, meets her future self, who proclaims the future unfolded very badly. The present and future Trance’s switch places in hope future Trance can set the timeline in the right direction. The new Trance is physically different, without a tail and has golden skin. The other major change is in the crew. Robert Hewitt Wolfe was released because the direction he envisioned for the series was much different than wanted.Michael Hurst in Andromeda (2000)In “Knight, Death, and the Devil”, the crew are on the verge of completing the first stage in restoring the Commonwealth. Beka and Harper negotiate with the fiftieth planetary world to join the cause. Dylan, Tyr, and Rommie also find a decommissioned high guard ship. When they interact with the ship’s AI Ryan (Michael Hurst), they find out there is a solar system with over fifty other relic ships in hiding. Dylan goes to the solar to convince the ships to rejoin the Commonwealth (remember some AI’s have emotions and they were abandoned long ago). Christopher Judge guest stars as one of the AI’s.Kevin Sorbo and Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)The season finale “Tunnel at the End of the Light” is a literally explosive episode. Representatives from fifty worlds come to the Andromeda to sign the Commonwealth charter. It is an exciting time to see the Commonwealth officially come back into power. Unfortunately, there are forces that would rather not see the chartered signed. Sabotage hits the Andromeda and the charter signing goes up in flames. It is up to the crew to make necessary sacrifices to see it through.Laura Bertram in Andromeda (2000)Overall, I was pretty happy with the second season of Andromeda. Like the first season, I was not in love with this season. The fact remains the show has a cast who over-performs and spouts cheesy dialogue. The storylines from episode to episode offer some enjoyable content, but nothing you should think too hard about. In addition, the story arcs that span the episodes offer intriguing aspects with the formation of the Commonwealth, the Magog, and the Spirit of the Abyss. In the end, I think season two makes for a good watch if you enjoy science-fiction/fantasy oriented shows.

REVIEW: STARGATE: INFINITY

CAST (VOICES)

Mark Acheson (Watchmen)
Kathleen Barr (Reboot)
Bettina Bush (The Littles)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Mackenzie Gray (Man of Steel)
Mark Hildreth (V)
Lee Tockar (Beast Wars)

Stargate: Infinity (2002)From the opening bars of the grating theme tune to the last credits; this is everything that the Stargate universe is not. Unlike Star Trek’s animated series which followed some canon within Trek boundaries and looked better, SG:I completely ignores Stargate history and barrels along, oblivious, the backgrounds and characters overdrawn.
Stargate: Infinity (2002)Money making aside, this looks and feels cheap. Many children will find its explicit moral messages condescending. The characters are all gross stereotypes. There is no character development. The younger members act ‘out of character’ at times augmenting the confusion. Stacey is the teenager failing to assert herself. Pierced, tattooed and with a bizarre shaven hair-do, she is everything little girls do not aspire to be. RJ is a two-dimensional character lacking a second dimension. I often hoped he would die as a result of his incompetence. Ec’co is a robot. Enough said. They also have an ancient in tow that looks like no ancient we’ve seen in SG-1 or Atlantis.Stargate: Infinity (2002)Gus Bonner has been accused of a crime he didn’t commit. He travels the entire galaxy as “The Fugitive”, gathering evidence to clear his name. Although not apparent from the description, this DVD set contains all 26 episodes. This cartoon series was unpopular. It was cancelled after one season and almost all of its major plots were never resolved. It was produced completely separately from the Stargate franchise.

REVIEW: V (2009) – SEASON 2

Starring

Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost)
Morris Chestnut (Kick-Ass 2)
Joel Gretsch (The Vampire Diaries)
Logan Huffman (Final Girl)
Laura Vandervoort (Bitten)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Scott Wolf (Go)
Charles Mesure (The Magicians)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Jane Badler (Neighbours)
Christopher Shyer (J.Edgar)
Mark Hildreth (Planet Hulk)
Rekha Sharma (Dark Angel)
Roark Critchlow (Batman: Year One)
Scott Hylands (Decoy)
Bret Harrison (Orange County)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
Chilton Crane (50/50)
Jonathan Walker (Red)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Nicholas Lea (The X-FIles)
Martin Cummins (Dark Angel)
Ona Grauer (Elysium)
Peter Bryant (Sanctuary)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Adrian Holmes (Skyscraper)
Samantha Ferris (Stargate SG.1)
Charlie Carrick (Reign)
Marc Singer (Beauty and The Beast)

I loved the original 1984 miniseries (and the spin-off and short-lived TV series) that spawned this big-budget televised reboot of V. It was good old-fashioned cult sci-fi fun, layered with a surprisingly morose setting, dark political subtext, some hokey but amusing effects, and a great little story about a rather horrifying alien invasion.The reboot goes in a few new directions, taking the source material a bit more seriously. The show is layered with popular cult stars and seasoned with some pretty ambitious visual effects for a series of this budget. Alas, while the high concept series did earn praise from fans and critics, it just didn’t have much of an audience.Like so many network sci-fi series before it, V was doomed from the get-go. An expensive show must yield big ratings, otherwise an already wary network will cut you loose. V is yet another show that really didn’t have a chance to find its footing, or its audience. Many, admittedly, were probably turned off by the show simply because it’s a relaunch of a popular cult miniseries. While others are turned away for the same reason any sci-fi show fails on network TV – they fear it’ll be canceled after a few episodes.Joel Gretsch and Elizabeth Mitchell in V (2009)True, V did make it into its second season, and I commend the network for sticking with the series for as long as they did. The second season of V did show some improvement, too. The narrative was tightened in certain spots, with a better focus on character. The mythos and mystery of the series worked quite well. And there were some solid episodes throughout the show’s second run. But the writing was on the wall at the end of Season 1. V would not last. And it didn’t.

REVIEW: V (2009)- SEASON 1

Starring

Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost)
Morris Chestnut (Kick-Ass 2)
Joel Gretsch (The Vampire Diaries)
Logan Huffman (Final Girl)
Lourdes Benedicto (Drive Me Crazy)
Laura Vandervoort (Bitten)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Scott Wolf (Go)

Laura Vandervoort and Logan Huffman in V (2009)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Charles Mesure (The Magicians)
Christopher Shyer (J.Edgar)
Mark Hildreth (Planet Hulk)
David Richmond-Peck (Pacific Rim)
Roark Critchlow (Batman: Year One)
Alan Tudyk (Doom Patrol)
Rekha Sharma (Dark Angel)
Scott Hylands (Decoy)
Lexa Doig (Andromeda)
Britt Irvin (Hot Rod)
Ingrid Kavelaars (Dreamcatcher)
Darcy Laurie (Chaos)
Derek Hamilton (Arrow)
Kyle Labine (Freddy vs Jason)
Michael Filipowich (Earth: Final Conflict)
Michelle Harrison (The Flash)
Ryan Kennedy (Blade: The Series)
Nicholas Lea (The X-FIles)
Samantha Ferris (Salvation)
Michael Trucco (Hush)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (The Flash)
Erica Carroll (When Calls The Heart)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (Disturbing Behavior)
Sonya Salomaa (Watchmen)
Kacey Rohl (Hannibal)
Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis)

If you’re old enough, you remember the original incarnations of V and V: The Final Battle. Me? I used to stay up late to watch them when they were re-run as a child. I was fascinated by the Visitors and when I learned ABC has rebooting the show, I was on-board for, at the very least, the beginning. Did I want to stay after that? Find out after the jump.For those not old enough, or not nerd enough, to be familiar with the original V series, you needn’t worry as this series stands on its own legs. Planet Earth is in turmoil. We starve. We struggle. We fight. We repeat that pattern ad nauseum. You’re all too familiar with the drill. Imagine one day, you looked up to the sky and saw massive spaceships. It’s not you alone, either; it’s the whole world. My first thought, of course, would be “oh expletive!” because I’ve seen enough science fiction, but now imagine that a very pretty, and very human looking face, assures you that these newcomers are “Of peace… always.” Add to that an offer of cures and technologies to raise us up from our daily struggles. Sounds too good to be true, right? A small group of people start to peel back the layers and find the cold, reptilian heart beating beneath. Season One of V tracks the arrival of the Visitors and the formation and first steps of defiance of the resistance.Joel Gretsch and Elizabeth Mitchell in V (2009)This series rests on the shoulders of two mothers duking it out (not literally, at least not yet…) for the fate of their two respective worlds. Bringing it home for Team Earth, Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost, The Lyon’s Den) in the role of Erica Evans, a counterterrorism agent who stumbles into the V conspiracy. Not only is she an actual mother, to Logan Huffman’s Tyler, but she also plays the part of our Earth Mother. With her on Team Earth, conflicted priest Father Jack Landry (Joel Gretsch – The 4400, Taken), a human-friendly, Fifth Column member Visitor Ryan Nichols (Morris Chestnut – Boyz in the Hood, Like Mike) and gun-for-hire Kyle Hobbes (Charles Mesure – Crossing Jordan, Xena: Warrior Princess). Fronting Team V, Morena Baccarin (Firefly, Serenity) in the role of Anna. Mother to Tyler‘s love interest Lisa, portrayed by Laura Vandervoort (Smallville, Instant Star), Anna is the face of her people. It is the duplicitous nuances that make Baccarin’s performance so special. Christopher Shyer (The Practice, Whistler) plays Marcus, Anna’s second in command. The children, Tyler and Lisa, are caught in the middle with their budding romance. Sitting on the fence between the Vs and the resistance is Chad Decker, played by Scott Wolf (Party of Five, Go). Chad is a reporter with a direct line to Anna and becomes her main PR man. He’s also apparently “healed” of a brain ailment discovered by V technology. Because he owes his life and his career to the Visitors, he’s willingly kept in Anna’s pocket. His loyalties come into question as the season progresses. NERD ALERT – look for cameos from Lexa Doig (Andromeda) and Alan Tudyk (Firefly, I, Robot) in the deliciously nastiest role I’ve seen him play.The strength of the series comes in the humanity of the interactions, even amongst the aliens. The season ends with Anna getting a taste of human emotion and the consequences that brings for humanity. Thankfully, mystery continues as we still don’t know why the Visitors have come to Earth. We just know, it doesn’t bode well for the planet’s current residents.Elizabeth Mitchell in V (2009)Accessible for newbies yet also interesting for the old-timers, I’ll be with this show until they translate a Visitor book as “To Serve Man.” This collection allows anyone who missed it on-air, or anyone who wants a refresher, to get up to speed before Season 2.

REVIEW: X-MEN: EVOLUTION – SEASON 1-4

Image result for x-men evolution logo

CAST (VOICES)

David Kaye (Happy Gilmore)
Kirby Morrow (Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation)
Venus Terzo (Arrow)
Brad Swaile (Zoids)
Maggie Blue O’Hara (My Little Pony Tales)
Neil Dneis (Stargate SG.1)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Kirsten Williamson (Juno)
Meghan Black (Elf)
Michael Kopsa (Apollo 18)


RECURRING / NORABLE GUEST CAST

Noel Fisher (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Christopher Judge (Stargate SG.1)
Alessandro Juliani(Smallville)
Michael Adamthwaite (Black Xmas)
Megan Leitch (IT)
Mark Hildreth (V)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Jim Byrnes (Highlander: The Series)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)

UntitledThe first season introduces the core characters and lays the foundations for future story lines. Professor X, Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm and Jean Grey make up the original X-Men. As the season develops, the ranks of the X-Men are bolstered by the appearance of Nightcrawler in the first episode,[2] Shadowcat in the second, Spyke in the fifth, and Rogue (who originally joins the Brotherhood in the fourth episode) in the third. In the later episodes of this season, Nightcrawler discovers the identity of his birth mother, Wolverine finds answers to his past, Rogue switches sides to join the X-Men and Xavier’s half-brother, Juggernaut, is released from his prison.UntitledConfrontations are typically with the Brotherhood, who vie for new recruits with the X-Men over the course of the season. Toad is the first to be introduced, followed by Avalanche, Blob and Quicksilver. The Brotherhood, led by Mystique, are in fact being directed by a higher power, the identity of whom was “revealed” in the two-part season finale as being Magneto. After Cyclops discovers that his brother Alex actually survived the plane crash that killed their parents, they are both taken by Magneto into his “sanctuary” on Asteroid M. Magneto captures several X-Men and Brotherhood members in an attempt to amplify their mutant abilities and remove their emotions. The Brotherhood and X-Men show up leaving Magneto, Sabretooth and Mystique trapped on the asteroid. Asteroid M is destroyed by Scott and Alex Summers, but not before two metal spheres fly from the exploding asteroid.

UntitledThe second season sees the addition of several new mutants, including Beast, who becomes a teacher at the Xavier Institute and an X-Man, as well as a version of the New Mutants: Boom Boom, Sunspot, Iceman, Wolfsbane, Magma, Multiple, Jubilee, Berzerker, and Cannonball. During the course of the season, it is revealed that the villains who supposedly perished on Asteroid M are actually alive. Sabretooth continues his pursuit of Wolverine, while Magneto continues to work his own agenda. Mystique poses as Risty Wilde, a high school student at Bayville High who befriends Rogue and breaks into the mansion to steal Xavier’s Cerebro files. Using the files, she recovers Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, Magneto’s daughter and Quicksilver’s sister. The mentally unstable mutant joins the Brotherhood upon Mystique’s return, allowing them to defeat the X-Men in a battle at the Bayville Mall. Before the finale, a pivotal episode aired featuring the telepath Mesmero opening one of three doors that would unleash a mutant known as Apocalypse.

UntitledIn the season finale, Xavier rigorously trains his X-Men to face Magneto, pairing them with the Brotherhood. Cyclops, furious with having to work with his former adversaries, leaves the team. The mansion is later set to self-destruct with Cyclops and several students still inside. Magneto, meanwhile, recruits Sabretooth, Gambit, Pyro and Colossus as his Acolytes to fight the X-Men/Brotherhood team. At the same time, Wolverine is captured by Bolivar Trask to use as a test subject for the anti-mutant weapon, the Sentinel. Magneto continues to manipulate events by unleashing the Sentinel onto the city, forcing the X-Men to use their powers in public. Wanda tracks down Magneto and attacks him while he is trying to deal with the Sentinel that is targeting him. The Sentinel is damaged and apparently crushes Magneto as it falls. When the mutants who have not been captured by the Sentinel return to the remains of the mansion, Cyclops and the students emerge from the explosion with minor injuries. Scott throws Xavier from his wheelchair and blames him for blowing up the mansion. Everyone is shocked as Xavier calmly stands up, transforming into Mystique.

In seasons three and four, the show notably begins to take a much more serious tone. After the battle with the Sentinel, the mutants are no longer a secret and public reaction is one of hostility. The show is brought into more traditional X-Men lore, dealing with themes of prejudice, public misconception, and larger threats. As the season progresses, the real Xavier is found, Mystique is defeated, the mansion is rebuilt, and the X-Men allowed back into Bayville High. Wanda continues to search for Magneto, who she discovers was saved by Quicksilver at the last second, until Magneto uses the telepathic mutant Mastermind to change her childhood memories. Scott and Jean develop a stronger and closer romantic relationship (particularly after Mystique kidnaps Scott and brings him to Mexico), and Spyke leaves the X-Men when his mutant ability becomes uncontrollable, deciding to live with the sewer-dwelling mutants known as the Morlocks.

 

As part of the series arc, Rogue loses control of her powers, leading to her hospitalization. During this time, she learns that she is in fact Mystique’s adoptive daughter. Mystique, through the visions of the mutant Destiny, foresaw that the fate of Rogue and herself lay in the hands of an ancient mutant that would be resurrected. Apocalypse emerges in the season’s final episodes. Mesmero manipulates Magneto into opening the second door, and uses Mystique and a hypnotized Rogue to open the last, turning Mystique to stone in the process. Now released, Apocalypse easily defeats the combined strength of the X-Men, Magneto, the Acolytes, and the Brotherhood before escaping

The final season contained only for nine episodes. In the season premiere, Apocalypse apparently kills Magneto while Rogue murders Mystique by pushing her petrified figure off a cliff, leaving Nightcrawler without closure. The Brotherhood become temporary do-gooders, Wolverine’s teenage girl clone X-23 returns, Spyke and the Morlocks rise to the surface, Shadowcat discovers a mutant ghost who is found in an underground cave, Rogue is kidnapped by Gambit and taken to Louisiana to help free his father, and Xavier travels to Scotland in order to confront his son David. The character Leech is also introduced as a young boy named “Dorian Leach”.

In the finale, Apocalypse defeats Xavier and Storm, transforming them, along with Magneto and Mystique, into his Four Horsemen. Apocalypse instructs his Horsemen to protect his three domes and his ‘base of operations’, which will turn the majority of the world population into mutants. In the final battle, the Horsemen are returned to normal and Apocalypse is sent through time. Rogue and Nightcrawler refuse the excuses of their mother, Shadowcat and Avalanche find love once again, Magneto is reunited with Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, Storm and Spyke are also reunited, and Xavier sees his students reunited as the X-Men.

 

X-Men: Evolution may not hold a candle to the 90s series, but on its own merits it is decent. I can see why people dislike it as even on its own terms it does have glaring flaws, but I do think it should be judged on its own rather than being compared all the time. Okay, Season 1 wasn’t brilliant, there was a lot of cheesy dialogue, slow and melodramatic story lines, not enough Wolverine, a great character, and too much of Spike, one like Kitty that annoys me to no end, plus Rogue seems bland to me in this series. However, Season 2 onward was much stronger, the pacing is much crisper, the action scenes are exciting, the writing was a little more intelligent.

REVIEW: PLANET HULK

CAST (VOICES)

Rick D. Wasserman (The Avengers: EMH)
Lisa Ann Beley (Dragon Ball Z)
Mark Hildreth (V)
Liam O’Brien (Ultimate SPider-Man)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Sam Vincent (Martin Mystery)
Michael Kopsa (Dark Angel)
Lee Tockar (Bast Wars)

With Planet Hulk, an adaptation of the like-titled comic book series, the studio delivers an above-average hit — a movie that doesn’t shy away from the fact that it’s basically Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, with Bruce Banner’s gamma-irradiated alter ego stepping in for Maximus.For comics fans seeking a pleasant distraction or looking for something to tide them over until the next live-action Hulk movie arrives, one could do worse than watching this gory, action-packed Marvel story.When Iron Man and Reed Richards deem Hulk too dangerous to remain on Earth, he is exiled into space and set on a course for an uninhabited planet. But our heroes never cleared that destination with the green guy, so he goes all smashy in mid-flight and ends up crash landing on the planet Sakaar. Here, Hulk is taken as a slave and forced to pla in the evil Red King’s gladiator arena. At first, all Hulk wants to do is pummel, brood and repeat, but then he joins forces with his fellow slaves in an attempt to take back the planet from Red King’s tyranny.Despite an obvious need for a bigger budget to fully realize the scale of the battles, Hulk manages to streamline the source material into a fast-moving 80 minutes that taps the necessary action beats to satisfy the Hall H attendee in all of us. Those looking for serious pathos will be disappointed, but that’s not to say that Greg Johnson’s screenplay is void of any character drama. Two of Hulk’s fellow slaves are provided decent flashbacks that add some depth to their otherwise 2D characters, but the script’s “telling tales around the campfire” approach to these flashbacks grows a bit redundant. Still, these character touches make us care more about Hulk’s fight to save a world, and maybe find peace, once the dust settles.

Fans of the comic will be glad to see that most of the original storyline and brawls are intact. One of the biggest changes from the comic has to be (spoilers) swapping out Silver Surfer for Beta Ray Bill as an opponent during a key fight. The swap, dictated mostly by the fact that 20th Century Fox has rights to the character, works well onscreen, and Hulk seems better matched to fight Bill than he did Galactus’ herald.For the most part, the core of the original story remains intact, which leads to a third act that feels separate from the main arc, but nonetheless entertaining. It’s Hulk vs. an invasion by the Spikes, which turn everyone into zombie porcupines. The climax provides us with the movie’s darkest beat, where a character carries a smoldering child who turns to ash, following the aftermath of a nuclear attack. The movie retains this darker edge leading to the final showdown between Hulk and the Red King, which feels a bit rushed.Planet Hulk (2010)Planet Hulk is a great movie that provides several graphic “Hulk Smash!” moments without forgetting to link them to some semblance of characters that we care about. It’s not a perfect movie to be sure, but it certainly qualifies as one of Marvel’s better efforts in the direct-to-DVD realm.