Review: Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell

Once more I’m giving y’all a patreon review. This one was backed by Sebastian Moreno. You want to rent my talent? Join Connor Clay, Chris Janisko, Jason Wells, Lance Rutt, and Sebastian in supporting me here.

Why doesn’t Marvel work in the realm of DTV animated movies? I have to throw this out. Marvel pretty much stays out of the format all together while DC cranks out great film after great film. Marvel hasn’t avoided it completely but with cheap efforts that more or less go straight to streaming, they’re pretty much non existent.

Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell is a perfect example. Given a no hype digital release before being flung at Netflix, Disney treated it as a nonentity. That’s kinda odd when you consider the potential here. It’s a movie where Hulk and Doctor Strange team up with Marvel monsters to fight Nightmare. That should be a movie you can sell. But it was thrown in the trash. Why?

The film’s premise is about that simple. On Halloween, the Hulk is summoned to help Doctor Strange fight Nightmare when a young man Strange is trying to help becomes transformed into a monster. With others falling prey, they have to fight to stop Nightmare from entering the waking world and wreaking havoc. Assisting them are Man-Thing, Vampire by Night, Warwolf, and a zombified SHIELD agent. Once in the dream world, Hulk and Banner separate, with Hulk threatening to aid Nightmare. Fights ensue.

That’s not an awful premise. In theory 75 minutes could be strung from it. Yet it’s odd how utterly flat this lays. The best DC DTV movies belong in theaters. This doesn’t belong on Netflix. And examining why explains why Marvel doesn’t work here.

For one thing the animation on this is almost obscenely underlit. It’s not like WB isn’t guilty of this at times but this thing is bathed in black. As a result I spent half the time squinting trying to figure out what’s going on. And what I could see was ok at best. The animation is stiff with rather bland character designs. Man-Thing looked great but the rest was weak.

It’s not helped by a script that amounts to a series of fight scenes in rather limited locations. This is almost all the Hulk punching things. I know comic book fans joke as long as there’s good fights we’re happy but this proves that to be a lie. The plot of this is about as dense as a retro arcade game. There’s some character writing but not much.

And let me go off on a tangent. These monsters? Not Marvel’s top tier. There’s no Jack Russell. There’s no Morbius. There’s no Simon Garth. There’s no Terror Inc. There’s none of Blade’s cadre. There’s no BLADE for that matter! Man-Thing is top tier sure and he’s great here. But we’re left with mostly Howling Commando characters and, well, look at how those sold.

I know I praised the lack of star voice casting on Scooby-Doo: Franken-Creepy but I want to stress something. The voices there were great because those are great voice actors (and a face actor who nails his job.) The cast list on that is a deep bench of legends. Marvel really doesn’t get those for their animated projects. And honestly what voice work we have here is passable but honestly on the same tier as a standard radio drama. Nothing bad but nothing notable.

Honestly, I don’t want to trash this movie. I love the Hulk. But this doesn’t feel like it’s on his level. It’s a Halloween special. And that’s fine. It’s not for me. It’s for cartoon watchers. But that’s as high as Marvel has aimed. Do better.

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