Thursday, August 14, 2008


Every once in a while there is a movie that captures the spirit of its time. A movie that explores the depths of one man’s soul as he struggles to find a place in a world that has shunned him and win back the only woman he’s ever loved… and then turns into a giant, green monster that smashes the shit out of anything and everything in his path. That movie is The Incredible Hulk, the second independently produced Marvel flic (the first of course being Iron Man). And I don’t think that I’d be alone in saying Marvel is two for two so far. Bravo, Mr. Hulk. You are truly a credit to the Marvel pantheon of colourful characters they occasionally whore out to the silver screen to make some extra cash and try to breathe life back into suffering comic book sales.

I was very impressed by Iron Man but it was with great trepidation that I went to see The Incredible Hulk despite Iron Man’s success. And who could blame me, what with the terrible incarnation of the Big Green Dude in Ang Lee’s film way back in 2003. But I needn’t have feared. I’ll start off with the special effects for a change. They were phenomenal. I mean you can’t beat Lou Ferrigno covered in green body paint with some tattered purple shorts to hide his Hulk-junk, but I guess we’ll have to settle for second best. The Hulkster himself looked great, very bestial and rough-and-tumble. They even went so far as to give the Hulk stubble. How adorable! There were several sequences where you really got to see what the green guy could do, especially that last totally ass-kicking last battle sequence with The Abomination. Simply delicious.

Now what really makes a movie is a coherent idea or set of ideas that its creators sets out to explore. This is one of the things the 2003 Hulk lacked severely. A wacked out Nick Nolte turning into some kind of elemental … thing, and Hulk dogs? Seriously? Thankfully the new film (though not technically a sequel) was not tainted by this stupid shit. Instead we find Bruce Banner, a tortured man on the run, trying to deal with his inner demons, and seeking a way to live in peace and harmony. (But instead he gets angry and smashes stuff. Boo-yah!) Then you had the antagonists played excellently by William Hurt (Gen. “Thunderbolt” Ross), and Tim Roth (Emil Blonsky). The great thing about this movie is that the conflict between all the main characters is firmly established as is their motivation for doing what they do, so you don’t end up with any “Why the fuck is he DOING that?!?!” moments halfway through the film.

Obviously the writing is one of the things that sets this movie apart from other comic book movies (as in surprisingly good, not painfully ridiculous. I’m looking at you Punisher). Now throughout production of this film there were rumours aplenty that Edward Norton was up to his allegedly meddling ways again, what with rewriting parts of the script. I don’t know if it’s true, but if it is kudos, Ed. And kudos to Zak Penn, the dude who got the writing credit for working on an Ed Norton script (You see what I did there? Damn I’m funny.).

Speaking of Ed Norton, lets speak of Ed Norton. I bought him as Bruce Banner much more easily than Eric Bana back in the 2003 film. I really hate to keep coming back to the earlier, crappier movie, but it provides a frame of reference. Not only is Ed Norton simply a better actor than Mr. Bana (don’t get me wrong, I like Bana), but I bought Norton more as the scrawny scientist. Now that’s a good thing. Norton is one of those actors who can really immerse himself into a role not only into that headspace but also the body type as well (Think of the difference of the Ed in American History X and the Ed in Fight Club. That’s what we in “the biz” call The Norton Factor.). All in all Ed Norton made an excellent Bruce Banner and really got me emotionally invested in the movie.

While part of the movie’s appeal is its accessibility to the general public and those who have not read Marvel’s entire catalogue, there are many references to Marvel mythology that offer an extra payoff for people who have read some comics (There were some parts that made me feel a little funny in my pants.). There is reference to the super soldier serum, a huge shout out to The Leader (check it out on, biatch!) and of course Iron Man as the born-again Robert Downey Jr. makes a brief appearance at the end of the movie. All of which makes me all a little antsy in my pantsy for The Avengers movie due out whenever Marvel figures it will make the most money. All in all I would give The Incredible Hulk an 8/10 = One Giant, Green, Mutated Head of Destruction.


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