Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Incredible Hulk

(Movie Review)

I never read a lot of Incredible Hulk comic books. (I was, for better or for worse, exclusively a DC fan during my comic book collecting days).
But to the extent I knew about the Hulk (via cartoons and pop culture), I was always kind of fascinated by the idea of a comic book anti-hero--someone who was neither really a good guy or a bad guy, but completely unpredictable. Also, I thought it was interesting to have someone who would transform into a superhero against his will.

However there's a downside to this as well. It means that Bruce Banner is more interesting than his alter-ego the Hulk. The Hulk himself is just a big green brute that smashes everything in his way. And, while it may be fun for 12 year old boys to watch the Hulk jump around and smash things, it's not 2 hours interesting.

Also, with any Hulk movie, there's the problem of believable special effects. I know the 1970s idea of having a body builder in green make-up was a bit cheesy, but to be honest, this CGI animation isn't really doing it for me either. The technology is just not there yet. It sill looks cartoonish to me.

Those two things together are my biggest criticism of the Ang-Lee movie. In particular, a lot of the fight scenes were pure CGI. Not only was the Hulk Computer generated, but his adversaries (the 3 mutant dogs, for example) were computer generated. And, I hate to say it, you could tell they were computer generated. The fight scenes were just like watching an overly violent cartoon.

I don't hold this against Ang-Lee. In my opinion, these are just the natural dangers inherent in making a Hulk movie. He's a difficult character to write for.
So, what about the reboot version?
Well, the cast is top rate to begin with.
I'm a big Edward Norton fan, and I was happy to see him in this film. I like Eric Bana, but Edward Norton is an actor who can just bring angst to a whole new level. Nobody says, "Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry" like Edward Norton.

Add to that another brilliant actor, Tim Roth, as the villain, and you suddenly have two great actors who I never thought I'd see together in a dumb comic book movie. And both of them really bring a lot to the film.

The writers also made the correct decision to focus more on Bruce Banner than on the Hulk.

...And yet, I did still get a little weary of watching a computer generated image smash things. And, I thought that in the final fight scene it was once again obvious that both participants were animated.

I think the film makers did the best they could with the Hulk in this movie. Perhaps the Hulk wasn't really meant to star in his own franchise. Perhaps he works best when he's a supporting character that the rest of "The Avengers" have to occasionally reign in.

If so, the end of this movie (and the super-cool-fan-boy-nod tie in to the Iron Man franchise) indicates that the sequel might be on the right track.
That is, if the film makers can get everyone together and hold true to the promise they indicated in this film's closing minutes.

Link of the Day
Chomsky on justice, law & the state
and Former S&L Regulator Tells Moyers: 'Absolutely' A Banking Bailout Coverup
and Elegant non-simplicity or communofascism? You be the judge.

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