Thursday, June 19, 2008

"The Incredible Hulk" - REVIEW

At the beginning of the decade, rumors began to swirl about that the Hulk, one of Marvel's most popular superheroes, would be getting a big screen treatment. To make matters better, Ang Lee, fresh off his success with the Oscar winning action/adventure film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", was signed on to direct. It seemed like a brilliant decision: take a director who can make films involving action AND dark, brooding characters, and give him the normally bombastic Hulk comic to work his magic with. However, when "Hulk" opened in summer 2003, the disappointment was almost palpable. Lee tried to give audiences something of an art-house comic book flick, filled with (GASP) more character development and very little action. This was admirable, but not executed terribly well, given the central character (whereas it worked brilliantly for Chris Nolan's "Batman Begins" in 2005). Then, about a year or so ago, new rumors about a new Hulk film begin to make their way about the internet. Edward Norton, a closet comic book geek, would both star and co-write a screenplay. Then along the way, rumors arose that Norton and the studio execs were divided over the screenplay and the length of the movie (the directors cut will include an extra 70 and Norton's screenplay credit was dropped. However, despite the bumps along the way, the Hulk finally has an acceptable, though not great, film to be remembered by (any inevitable sequels have a lot of room to improve however). The opening credits show us how Bruce Banner (Norton) became the Hulk, earning him the ire of General Ross (William Hurt). Five years later, Ross gets wind of Norton's whereabouts (Brazil), and sends an elite squad led by Lt. Blonsky (Tim Roth). This sets off the action as Banner tries to escape from the army, and also find a cure for his strange condition. Along the way he hooks up with his old flame, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler). While replacing Eric Bana with Norton was a smart idea (the contrast between Norton's thin frame and the Hulks massive muscles adds to the dichotomy of the character), replacing Jennifer Connelly with Tyler isn't the greatest choice. She's not terrible, but there's a certain spark that's missing. At times, EVERYONE seems to be missing a little something; even Norton turns in a somewhat tepid performance. However in the end, a Hulk movie should be about the big set pieces, and here the film does deliver. They're (very) loud, but they're also genuinely excited, and you actually feel more invested in the characters during the fight scenes than in the sometimes brain dead conversations. For this Hulk, the only thing truly incredible are the special effects.

Grade: B-/C+

Nominations: Best Original Score - Craig Armstrong(#4), Best Visual Effects(#4), Best Sound Editing(#4), Best Sound Mixing(#4)

Number of 2008 Movies Seen: 12

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