Sunday, February 8, 2015

Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United (2013) Netflix

Wasted potential Bros!
Rating:  2 out of 5 Practically Anonymous Hydra Scientists

Plot Synopsis:  Hulk gets captured.  Hulk is used as a power source.  Then things get really stupid.

The Good(+), The Bad (-), The Ugly (~):

+ We start with an info dump about the Hulk and Abomination.  I’m glad they got it out of the way even if it is a little cliché just to have two characters spell everything out in the plainest words.  It’s not riveting but it’s functional.

+ This is followed by a pretty nice opening sequence of comics with Hulk and Iron Man with an emphasis on Hydra, whom I assume will eventually play a role in this.
- Hulk is quite articulate.

~ The animation is spotty, Abomination and Hulk look like they belong in two different animated series as they seem to embody two different art styles.

- Another info dump about Iron Man.  It’s becoming clear that the targeted audience is quite young.  This is also obvious because they say the famous “Billionaire, Playboy, Philanthropist” line but change it to “Billionaire, Philanthropist, Ladies Man” probably because no one under the age of 20 knows what a playboy is.

+ The Iron Man suits look good but the character model on Tony Stark lives deep inside the uncanny valley.

+ The fight between Hulk and Abomination is pretty good.  They went with a straight Russian Blonsky over the cinematic cannon English Blonsky.

~ The animation is so weird.  One minute it looks great and everything moves well but occasionally there’s an off frame or an unnatural movement or an ugly model and it takes the express train to Cheap City with stops at Shitty Looking Lane.  In one scene we have Hulk, Abomination and Hydra scientists and they all look like refugees from totally different series.  Abomination looks like he belongs in that crappy Spider-Man CGI series, Hulk looks like he’s supposed to be a part of a high budget, super real Avengers series and the scientists look like they belong in Batman Beyond.  It’s jarring to see all these art styles clash.

- Hulk is too smart for my tastes.  He’s basically the super smart Banner/Hulk from the 90’s.

+ At least the Iron Man armors and Hulk look like they belong together stylistically.

- Why does Stark own a helicarrier?  When did that happen?  There’s just a helicarrier with his name on it floating above New York City?  What?

- The two faceless scientists don’t make for very compelling antagonists.

+ The Hulk/Iron Man fight is pretty good and their interactions are pretty entertaining.

- Hulk is oddly food obsessed.  Why did they choose that for a running gag?

+ Hulk using Iron Man as a cudgel is kind of fun.  Probably the most entertaining part of the show so far.

- Iron Man has Mandroids now?  Is he just all of SHIELD in this?  Is he it?  He seems like he’s the only one in that huge helicarrier so maybe he is.

+ We just saw the origin of Zzzax.  I guess that’s a good thing.  They didn’t really telegraph that and it’s a nice obscure choice for a villain that can take on both Hulk and Iron Man.

+ Yep, that’s a Mandroid all right.  Complete with SHIELD logo.  Doesn’t really resolve the whole “Tony Stark: Only Agent of SHIELD” thing but it’s nice to see it get a shout out.  I wonder if it was to promote the Cap Legends toyline with its Mandroid Build-a-Figure.

+ Wow, an old school transformer transformation sound.  I’m a sucker for that.

+ Hulk’s thunder clap gets a nice visual representation in this.

- The helicarrier is apparently made of concrete.

+ “That is a Wendigo, but no worry, they don’t exist.”  That was another funny moment.

+ The Wendigo fight is pretty good.

+ A blinded Hulk jumps at the helicarrier with Starks assistance and completely misses.  That was pretty funny.

-Stark’s helicarrier has a hanger bay full of Quinjets.  Why does one person need a hanger full of jets?  If there is more than one person on this thing where are they in all the electrified chaos that’s happening?  Do they not care that there’s a battle going on?  I don’t know why but this bothers me SO much.  There are just so many other plot devices around using a huge helicarrier filled with SHIELD tech.

-The final battle with Zzzax is a little tedious.  It has its moments but mostly it’s a tad boring.  It kind of feels like a boss fight for a cell phone game.  In fact this whole thing kind of feels like a cell phone game.

-For what it is the climax goes on for entirely too long.  It doesn’t engage or change in a compelling way to justify the 20+ minute climax.

-And we end on Hulk being hungry.  That’s a great payoff.

+ This being Marvel there’s an after credits stinger with Red Skull!  That might be the best part.  Of course it hints at a sequel with Captain America and Iron Man that I hope never gets made.

Final Thoughts:  God I’ve been dragging my feet on this one.  I was initially pretty excited about this when all I had was a title.  Then I saw the trailer and it looked like the cheapest CGI crapfest ever.  I wasn’t going to buy it, that’s how terrible it looked, I buy almost everything even if I don’t watch it right away.  I want to see more stuff so I like to support comic movies/shows by buying stuff as soon as they hit market.  Vote with my dollar as it were.  But I refused to buy this, $20 seemed WAY too much for this pile.  So I decide to wait and see if it ever dropped down to the coveted $5 Target bargain bin.  To this date it hasn’t but it did pop on Netflix which eliminated any excuses.  Even then I still didn’t want to watch it, but I did, for you, because someone has to.

            The final judgment is that it’s just meh.  It’s inoffensive enough you could stick a kid in front of it and there’s really nothing scary or suggestive about what’s happening.  It’s the perfect babysitter movie if you also happen to have a tub full of action figures for the kid to play with.  This is the kind of movie that, as a kid, I would have played with my action figures when the movie got tedious and the plot is so inconsequential that you can just drift in and out without missing anything.

            My biggest problem is the missed potential.  If you aren’t going set this in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but not really use any of the cannon you could have gone a different route and this could have been the ultimate Science Bros! experience.  It would have skewed to an older audience but you could have a first act of Tony and Bruce doing science stuff, a second act of Hulkbuster vs. Hulk with science stuff and then a final act of Iron Man and Hulk vs. Big Bad.  You could use the leader as an antagonist.  It just would have been more interesting, for me, if you were going to team Iron Man and Hulk to see an extension of that dynamic.  What’s here is not that.  It’s a kiddie film.  So if you have a kid and Netflix you could do worse.

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