Monday, June 16, 2008

The Incredible Hulk

It was not critics that kept me away from Hulk (2003) was normal people who saw it and hated it. There are not many super hero movies I have missed...counting that one, I believe the number is 2, the other being the finale of the X-Men trilogy. Conversely, I had been hearing great things about The Incredible Hulk (2008) which allegedly ignored the first debacle and was a complete reset. So off I went to check it out.

It is a bit disappointing in that it is not, in fact, a reset. The movie assumes the viewer is familiar with the origins of the Hulk and has flashbacks that are incomplete and hard to distinguish where they are from or why they are important...or what happened in them. We only know they give Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) nightmares and haunt his existence.

The Hulk has ever been a tortured soul...a man who draws conflict to himself, cannot control his anger, and then goes about smashing things. This movie is no different as Banner runs into conflicts at work, has problems containing his anger, and, in a call back to the old television show, the army shows up.

Now, if I were a social critic I would take this moment to comment on the inherent critique on US Military arrogance. Their little mission to capture Banner compromises Portugal's boundaries, apparently without clearance from the appropriate authorities. This is an act of war according to every accepted convention. Whether it is "black ops" or not it is a violation of sovereign space and something that should be done 2 ways: with great care and never.

Furthermore, the equally arrogant comment by General Ross (William Hurt) when he says, "As far as I'm concerned, that man's entire body is US Army property" adds to the idea that the U.S., under the current administration, does what it wants and abrogates to itself dominion over people, places and things that do not belong. It could be construed as a sharp social commentary by those paying attention, particularly since this was produced by Marvel Comics.

Marvel has long been a passive advocate for some aspects of social justice. The entire X-Men franchise is largely predicated on treatment of those who are "different", what has come to be defined as "the Other", as just one example. The Hulk franchise was never any different. So were these just for the purpose of the movie or were they a comment on U.S. interaction with Hugo and the Middle East?

Anyhow, Banner ends up turning into the Hulk, Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) gets jealous of his power, and the wheels are set in motion. Ross retries the experiments that turned Banner into the Hulk and Blonsky gets stronger and faster.

When Banner tries to recover key files from Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), the army catches up to him. There is a spectacular Hulk versus Army battle on the grounds of the college, at the end of which Hulk rescues Betty. Betty and Bruce go on the lam while the Army chases them.

Everyone converges in New York. Bruce meets up with Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson) who may or may not be able to cure Bruce. They try some experiments, but as they do the Army catches up and captures Bruce and Betty.

After everyone leaves, Blonsky forces the rather willing Sterns to inject him with Banner's blood.
He becomes the Abomination, a Hulk-like villain who apparently is always in beast form. During the post-transformation, Sterns gets some of the blood in himself which leaves him with a maniacal smile the last time we see him, setting up an obvious sequel. They end up having an awesome Superhero/Supervillain battle through the streets of New York. Minor spoiler here: Hulk wins. Ironically, this is the least favorite part of the movie for the Hollywood writer subculture as evidenced by their complaints about Iron Man (2008); yes, obviously CGI. Your point? If I want to see deep character studies, I will go watch those movies. In a Superhero movie I want to see stuff that is NOT realistic; throwing forklifts is fine with me whether it is CGI or not. That is the best part of a Superhero movie.

I hate to say it, but there were large segments of this movie where I was...wait for it...bored. I am not as enamored of Norton's acting as many of my contemporaries are. Furthermore, the frequent angst of Marvel characters does not resonate well with me. Conversely, the action sequences were very fun to watch and I liked how the movie was put together overall. It would not be first on my list to see again but I might watch it.

The best moment in the movie was perhaps unintentional, however. We had, at that point, seen the Hulk withstand thousands of 9mm bullets, a machine gun, a .50 cal from a helicopter, 2 sonic cannons, and even have an exploding helicopter bounce over him, all without even a drop of blood. Then he bumps his head in a cave and it causes him great pain. Hilarious. Nonsensical, but a great moment nonetheless.


Al said...

Was the movie boring for like the first hour? The previews make it seem that its a slow developing movie..It's a renter! The first one wasn't that bad just the end was lame. The first part was pretty decent.

Darth Weasel said...

it was slow starting out but I think it was only maybe 15 - 20 minutes before it started rolling. once it did there was a ton of action.