Monday, June 23, 2008

Hulk Review: What's Old Is New Again

I saw INCREDIBLE HULK this weekend. I thought it was very good! Not great - for reference, I thought SPIDERMAN 2 and BATMAN BEGINS were "great". Those two movies had solid characters, great action.

HULK was just good on both those fronts - and that is enough for me to recommend it to friends and I will probably buy the DVD.

The thing I really liked about HULK was it was an obvious tribute to the old HULK television show starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. It had the "eyes" moment before a change, Banner as a lonely drifter - it even had a Lou Ferrigno cameo which was wonderful. As a big fan of the old show growing up, this movie definitely won over my heart in that respect.

I thought the Ang Lee HULK film was average - not bad, not good. I thought it needed more action and better pacing. But my biggest gripe with the Ang Lee HULK was that the script seemed to make Banner out to be a tragic victim, always on the run, hating his destiny. Granted, that seems the essence of Banner doesn't it? But the tone was all different - in Leterrier's HULK, there is not much time spent on the brooding, sad Bruce Banner. In this one we get a Banner that is on the run, and he is looking to protect people from himself, to find a cure. The excitement factor is there - this is not a man that is looking to run and hide and mope, which is how I felt about Lee's Banner. And most importantly - the Hulk is made to be a HERO. I thought this was sorely lacking in the previous film.

And the excitement factor is definitely there - the Hulk is on the run from the military and facing an worthy adversary in THE ABOMINATION - a Hulk-like villain with intelligence and an insane evil streak. It makes for a fun finale, and more "Hulk Smash!", which is always a great thing for a summer popcorn movie. Norton was a perfect Bruce Banner - I will always think of him as The Hulk - any further casting will be met with great skepticism.

If I had any complaints, it is that the HULK was a little too "monstrous". Lots of veins popping out under the skins, lots of Hulk roars, he always seemed to be covered in dirt and lurking in the shadows. I thought that was all a bit over the top - I like my heroes to be "presentable", darn it, and finally the Hulk is a hero!

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