Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Incredible Hulk

So I watched the Incredible Hulk tonight. I managed to get really lucky with having a Netflix rental return on Tuesday which was the first day the DVD was available. This is the rebooted / do-over version with Ed Norton. There were some nice tidbits in opening credits. They pay a lot of respect to the original reference material in the credits mentioning Rick Jones, Leonard Samson, Nick Fury, Stark Technologies and SHIELD. Most of these things don't get any serious screen time in the movie itself though. The idea of this Marvel movie shared universe is interesting though since you do see Stark Industries mentioned. I was a bit disappointed though that since I watched the non Blu-Ray widescreen edition I didn't get to see the alternate opening with the brief Captain America cameo.

The movie itself is okay I suppose. Not a ringing endorsement I know, but honestly I've never been a huge Hulk fan (one of the reasons I didn't go see this in theaters I suppose). Something about a character whose whole schtick is simply to get mad and wail on their opponent just doesn't do anything for me (I was never a huge wrestling fan either). The Hulk has always been more of a cautionary Frankenstein tale than anything else, but they've removed some of that since his origin is no longer based on being created by a gamma bomb he worked to invent and instead is now along the lines of the old TV show where he simply sat in a chair and got bombarded by radiation. And speaking of the old TV show, there are more than a few nods to it in the movie from Lou Ferrigno having a bit part as a security guard to a variation of the theme playing as Norton walks along a road.

The film ignores the whole aspect of the Hulk being all the repressed rage Banner has in a primal and uncontrollable form. Here the Hulk is more a raging force of nature instead of a fragmented personality. And I wasn't thrilled with how at the beginning sequence they went out of their way not to show you the Hulk and keep his look somewhat secret and hidden in shadows. I mean we all know what he looks like, why the forced suspense? They also seemed to go out of their way to create a bad guy for the Hulk to fight. Try not to think about the fact that were it not for the Hulk the bad guy wouldn't wouldn't exist. And really in this case, who is the bad guy? I could easily argue it's the Hulk himself since when he roids out he becomes a raging behemoth that causes massive property damage and wanton destruction.

I had heard there were a lot of disagreements between Norton and the director on what the vision for the movie should be. I'm not sure how that ended up changing the movie, but I could tell that from watching the movie though there doesn't seem to be a clear vision for Hulk. The CGI Hulk is done well enough even although in my opinion they did have problems with scenes where Hulk isn't raging. The action scenes are passable, but I enjoyed the middle fight the best where Hulk was fighting the Army better than the climax fight where he fights his new nemesis. The one thing I did like about this version was Hulk finally got a couple of speaking lines. Not many mind you (I think there were less than a handful), but at least we got to hear a "Hulk Smash" even if we didn't get to hear him call someone a "Puny Human".

So to summarize, the movie gets a rousing "meh". It's too bad Marvel initially sold the movie rights for some of their characters to other studios. It would have been cool at some point to see Spider-Man, Wolverine, Iron Man and the Hulk characters all together in a movie at some point. At least we'll get some of that since the movie makes it's obvious their current strategy is to build up to an Avengers team movie.

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