Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell
Written by Marty Isenberg and Dave McDermott
Starring Fred Tatasciore, Liam O’Brien, Jesse Burch, Edward Bosco, Chiara Zanni, Mike Vaughn, Matthew Waterson, and Michael Robles.
Release Date: October 21, 2016
‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10
Just in time for Halloween, comes Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell, the latest animated movie from Marvel. Taking its name from the sci-fi/monster title of the same name from the 1970’s, Hulk finds himself teaming up with Doctor Strange and this version of Howling Commandos to take on Nightmare and the creatures of his Dream Dimension. This takes place within the new established Marvel animated universe where the series Avengers Assemble also is a part of.
Being set on Halloween is a perfect environment for this cast and much like the plethora of Halloween TV specials begins with children trick-or-treating. It plays into sort of the Secret Defenders series from the 90’s where Strange would summon specific and random heroes for a quest that he needs help with. In this instance, Strange has summoned the Hulk and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s paranormal chapter that consists of Man-Thing, Warwolf, Vampire By Night, and the zombie Jasper Sitwell. The animation team took steps into making sure this was slightly more edgier than what is being presented on television, but still has a similar story structure that isn’t necessarily bad as it’s perfect for the desired demographic, but a more mature audience might be counting down the time before it’s over.
Clocking in at just about 90 minutes, there’s a lot to cover as each scene begins a new subplot and is quickly resolved. There’s this lack of dramatic tension that can’t build in between the spaces and characters go on to the next thing like the previous thing didn’t even happen.
Through its pacing faults, Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell has some strong merits. The voice acting is strong, even with Matthew Waterson as Nightmare doing his very best Mark Hamill Joker impression. Fred Tatasciore and Liam O’Brien reprise their roles as Hulk and Strange respectively. Both have been those characters through various mediums including television and video games before and they’ve gotten the hang of them by now. O’Brien casts spells with a certain conviction and Tatasciore smashes and commands a ferocity that’s hard to mimic even in live action. The rest of the cast is fine, but nothing that stands out by the end of the movie.
Though this movie is part of the Marvel Animated Universe, it’s pretty bound by its own setting. It doesn’t mention any past event or history and presents itself as a self-contained story. That’s all well and good, but the let down is that this is hardly anything new. While it’s great they’re throwing back to Strange’s first villain, Hulk feells lost in his own movie and the conflict he feels against Banner is something we’ve seen more than a few times. There’s a fun scene where Banner pilots the Hulkbuster armor to take down the Hulk, but what would have been more interesting is more of the science versus magic that Strange and Banner have really good banter over. A lot of this feels more of the same.
Hulk: Where Monsters Dwellis absolutely kid-friendly even with some gross-out moments involving Sitwell’s zombie-isms, has a some great animation to it, and having something superhero-related to watch for Halloween is always a plus. However, it felt so weighed down by some needless dialog and weak pacing that it feels so much longer than it is. There’s definitely a solid 45-minute episode of Avengers Assemble in this that could have easily worked better.