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Superhero Sundays: Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell (2016)

Written by Arthur

Review Overview

Hulk smash

6/10

Hulk plot

6/10

Hulk supporting cast

6/10 Rating 6/10

Hulk, Doctor Strange and some monstrous guest stars take on Nightmare in this Halloween Marvel adventure.

Reading time: 4 mins

Director: Mitch Schauer Cast: Fred Tatasciore, Jesse Burch, Liam O’Brien, Matthew Waterson, Mike Vaughn, Edward Bosco, Chiara Zanni Certificate: 6+ Watch Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell online in the UK: Disney+ UK

On Sunday mornings, we like to watch cartoons. So we’re working our way through animated superhero cartoons available to stream. We call it Superhero Sundays.

The Hulk may be the headliner of this 2016 Marvel animated adventure, but it’s really more of a Doctor Strange movie, produced to cash in on the live-action version, which was released the same year. The title comes from a 1970s monster comic of the same name, but the supporting characters are drawn from a more recent source, specifically the 2015 line-up of the Howling Commandos of SHIELD.

Set at Halloween, the film begins with Doctor Strange (Liam O’Brien, sounding quite a bit like Pierce Brosnan) summoning the Hulk (regular Hulk voice Fred Tatasciore) to New York, because of a recent case where a child turned into a Minotaur. They soon discover that the villainous Nightmare (Matthew Waterson) is turning kids into the thing they fear the most, thereby laying the ground for a monster invasion by weakening the barrier between the dream dimension and the real world.

With monsters on the loose in New York, Strange calls in the services of SHIELD’s Paranormal Containment Unit to battle the beasties while he and Hulk – or, rather, Banner (voiced by Jesse Burch) – take on Nightmare in the dream dimension. The PCU (later renamed the Howling Commandos) comprise Zombie Jasper Sitwell (Mike Vaughn), Nina Price, aka Vampire By Night (Chiara Zanni), War Wolf (Edward Bosco) and Man-Thing (Jon Olson).

Director Mitch Schauer is a long-time animation professional who clearly has an affinity for monsters, given that he’d previously illustrated a cover for Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. As such, the monsters are nicely rendered within the film’s relatively simplistic animation style that’s familiar from the various Hulk cartoons.

Similarly, the action is decent throughout. Schauer ensures that each member of the PCU gets to showcase their fighting styles, which works well within the story because it also underlines how they need to work together as a team. Aside from an exciting final battle with a monstrous-looking giant Nightmare, the action highlight is a fight between the Hulk and Banner in Hulkbuster armour, because that’s the sort of thing you can do in the dream dimension.

As for the voice work, Fred Tatasciore is to the Hulk what Kevin Conroy is to Batman, so Hulk fans are in safe hands. This version of the Hulk is relatively articulate (to the point where he can deliver pep talks at the end), but he can still get out a good variation of “Hulk SMASH” and his Hulk growl is extremely impressive.

Similarly, Bosco does good work with War Wolf, getting in a number of funny lines, while O’Brien makes a solid, if unremarkable Strange – it’s fair to say that he probably could have had a little more fun with it. The standout voice performance is Matthew Waterson, who makes Nightmare a truly genuinely scary character, appropriate to his comics appearances.

In terms of the tone, Schauer strikes a nice balance between genuinely scary (some bits might be too frightening for very young children) and amusingly silly, most notably in a fun running gag where Jasper’s zombie limbs keep falling off. There are also a number of in-jokes and references for Marvel fans, most notably nods to Ghost Rider, Spider-Man, Captain America and the Avengers.

As for Ol’ Greenskin himself (as Stan Lee used to call him), the film does at least add something to the Hulk / Banner relationship, by exploring their conflict when their personalities are split in the dream dimension. In particular, there’s some nice stuff about the Hulk being perceived as a monster, despite his intention to be a hero, and how he resents Banner because he always gets “credit” for Hulk’s heroic actions.

All in all, this is a solidly made Marvel adventure that’s all the more entertaining for being slightly offbeat. As feature-length Hulk cartoons on Disney+ go, it’s one of the better ones.

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