Sunday, June 22, 2008

Movie Review - Hulk

A little late on this one, but I wanted to offer my thoughts on the Hulk movie. I can't offer the same level of overwhelming praise that I gave Iron Man, but that really isn't a knock on the Hulk. The Hulk, for anyone who doesn't know, is also Dr. Bruce Banner (in his calmer moments). The Hulk is effectively the ID within all of us, a rage that is unleashed in times of extreme stress or anger. What this means a viewer is that Edward norton, (playing Banner) has to portray a very subdued, restrained side, in order to prevent the Hulk from busting loose. Iron Man, with the secret identity of billionaire genius playboy Tony Stark, is completely different. Tony Stark is a far more entertaining character than Banner, and Robert Downey Jr. runs with all the role allows him to be.

As far as a movie, the Hulk hits all the right notes. The movie assumes a certain level of familiarity, since the Hulk as a character is arguably more well known than Iron man (I was going to write Iconic, but that may be too strong. The Hulk has been around for 40 yrs, and with comics, a previous movie, and a popular tV show, not too strong - plus add in the repressed ID that is classic Freudian psychology and you have one hell of an interesting character. )

The govt., led by Gen. Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt) wants to tap into the gamma irradiated blood of Banner in order to create a military use for this power. Banner knows this is far too dangerous and is desperately looking for a cure while on the run from Ross and the govt. - Further complicating matters is his love of Betty Ross, daughter of the General.

What is nice about the movie at this point is that these elements are all nicely grounded in much of the Hulk Mythos, thus rewarding fan boys like myself. Little touches are the use of a contact Banner has, "Mr. Blue" reminiscent of a run of Hulk a few years ago with shadowy conspiracies, written by the underappreciated Bruce Jones. Also nice is the inclusion of Doc Samson, a character that most won't get but fanboys enjoy.

Now for the most important part - the Villian. The think ang lee didn't understand in his Hulk film from 5 years ago is that heroes are defined by their villians. Batman/Joker, Spidey/Green Goblin, Fantastic Four/Dr. Doom, X-Men/Magneto.. the list goes on. So for a big bad MF'er like the hulk, you better damn well have an equally big, bad MF'er to battle against. Imagine one of the basic laws of physics translated into story structure - Each Action has an equal and opposite reaction.- this, my friends, is at the heart of conflict, and without conflict, you have a dull story.

(BTW, this isn't just comics, it goes far beyond into other mediums. Scully and Mulder vs. Cigarette Smoking Man, Sherlock holmes vs. Moriarity, Bond vs. Blofeld, The Jedi VS. the Sith, good vs. the Bush administration, etc. )

The key to the villian facing the hulk is great casting; Tim Roth. he plays Emil Blonsky and he is eager to tap into some of the power necessary to fight the hulk Now the movie really starts throwing easter eggs to fans, with Blonsky being injected with a super-serum originally developed by a german scientist during WWII for a fella named Steve Rogers, aka Captain America! You don't need to know this but for guys like me it was great. Blonsky begins to become stronger, and unlike Banner, who realizes that the increased power brings increased responsibility and perhaps there is a limit to the amount of power any human should have, Blonsky hungers for more.. and more... and more... until he consumes so much he becomes an Abomination! Equal to the Hulk but with no moral compass, the stage is set for one muther of a fight. (Also note, like Iron Man developed quietly the character of the Mandarin, the hulk clearly shows us the coming of The Leader, another classic Hulk Villian

A great movie, exactly what a comic based movie should be, and hopefully a harbinger of the quality to expect from upcoming Marvel movies (Wolverine, Captain America, Thor, Avengers, and even a new, dark, bad assed Punisher.


1 comment:

Da Old Man said...

You left out the Yankees vs the Red Sox in your good vs evil scenario.