Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Incredible Hulk (2008) Blu-Ray

Rating:  3 out of 5 Rampaging Rage Monsters Tearing Up Harlem

Plot Synopsis:  Bruce Banner is looking for a cure to his condition.  In the hunt for the cure he ends up creating one current nemesis while setting up the creation of another.


The Good:
-The origin is told in the opening credits with silent images and text/image cut aways.  I prefer this method of origin telling in movies.  Get into the action, unless you can blend it into an interesting story (like Iron Man) just get the origin out of the way.  The origin isn’t always interesting, the character is what’s interesting, so let’s get to the character.  So bravo to that.

-Bruce’s breathing teacher has mad control over his abs.

-Bruce showing his mechanical aptitude by fixing the broken down factory.

-Bruce freaking out over his spilt blood and of course he would have super glue handy all the time.  It’s just an interesting look at how someone with a problem like Bruce’s would react to a cut and of course he would have thought out what losing blood would mean and how to stop bleeding as soon as possible.

-“Don’t make me hungry.  You wouldn’t like me when I’m… hungry.  No that’s not right.”

-Mr. Blue and Mr. Green, a good reference to the comics.

-Hey, it’s… Stan Lee?

-Ed Norton does great as Bruce Banner/Hulk.  I like Mark Ruffalo better, it’s a different Bruce than then either Bana or Ruffalo which is good and makes the movie unique and interesting.  That being said he’s my least favorite Banner but he’s a good actor and he’s really trying so credit where credit is due.

-Tim Roth as Eric Blonsky, he is just brutal and cunning in the role.  Great fun to watch.  Normally when I think Tim Roth I think low budget, indy-ish movie.  Something script and character driven with little action and CGI but I think that’s what makes him work so great in this.  He really brings that character driven experience to make Blonsky more three dimensional.

-The first Hulk out is great, we don’t see the character much, they really tease the Hulk and use it to build suspense.

-We get a little bit of the “Lonely Man Theme” when Bruce is walking through Mexico.

-He begs for money to buy pants and when he goes to get pants he holds them over a larger person’s ass to see how they will expand.  Then he asks for stretchy pants.

-A reference to a “super soldier” program.

-Blonsky’s smile is terrifying.

-Hey, it’s Lou Ferrigno!

-The gamma machine looks like the one used in the TV show, a nice little reference.

-Ty Burrel as Dr. Leonard Samson.  He’s Phil Dunphy to me but it’s great seeing him in this role, it’s just too bad we don’t see him in his gamma form.  They don’t go out of their way to identify him as Samson but if you pay attention to the opening credits you see his name and if you know the lore then when the pizza guy calls him a head shrink then you know it’s him.

-The super soldier process they use on Blonsky looks nothing like the process used on Steve Rogers.  I suppose that’s because there’s nothing left of that program but it actually fits better with the character, something incredibly medical, sterile and painful.  There’s none of the fantastical super science in a warm, friendly lab environment.  Just needles in a dark room on a steel table.

-The second Hulk out.  Here we see Hulk out in the daylight, in all his glory as he tears apart the military.

-Super Blonsky vs. Hulk.  It’s interesting to see a regular sized person go up against the Hulk and not do too badly for themselves.  He uses acrobatics and firearms to make up for the size difference.  Ultimately he doesn’t stand a chance but it’s still fun to watch.

-The sonic weapons, the sound manipulation when the Hulk hears Betty screaming or the sound resonating off the metal shields he’s using.  It’s just a good effect and a good moment.

-Hulk finishes off a cocky Blonsky with one kick that sends flying and bashes him against a tree.  It is incredibly brutal and makes me wince every time I see it.

-Hulk and Betty in the cave during the storm.  At least here they had the sense to dress Liv Tyler in dark clothing before getting her soaking wet.

-Hulk being angry at the rain and afraid of the thunder.

-Watching Blonsky flex his shattered hand just makes me wince.

-Purple stretch pants.  The look on Bruce’s face is priceless.

-Great staff photo of Samuel Sterns.

-The cab ride.

-Samual Sterns is played really well by Tim Blake Nelson. He usually does great work and this is no different.  He doesn’t have a lot a screen time but he really makes the most of it.

-“How are you feeling man?” “Like a monster.” Blonsky being a badass.

-The controlled Hulk out, you can see Sterns fall in love with the power of the Hulk right there.  You can almost watch it corrupt him.

-“Why…are you always hitting people?”

-Blonsky’s desperation for power, he’s like an addict desperate for a hit.

-“…the mixture could be an…Abomination.” Continues the tradition of not outright using the comic’s name, 
just inserting it into dialog.

-Sequel bait for Sterns as the Leader.

-Bruce jumping out of a plane, staying Bruce until he hits the pavement.  The only hint that he transformed is the huge crater his impact creates.

-Blonsky catches a bazooka round and then explodes it against his chest just because.  He doesn’t even try to avoid the impact he just wants the impact on his terms.

-Next to the Avengers movie’s climax I would argue that this has the best final fight in any of the Phase One movies.  The other Phase One movies are a lot of foreplay but then the final battle between the main protagonist and the main antagonist is over too quick.  It climaxes too quickly.  Like me.  But this one has a lot of foreplay and it builds to a lengthy, satisfyingly brutal fight, drawing the confrontation between the main protagonist and the main antagonist out until you really couldn’t handle any more before concluding.  This final fight is drawn out just to the point of being too long, I don’t think I could have handled another five minutes which is perfect.  It gives you want you want and finishes at just the right time.  Unlike me.

-Hulk’s police car boxing gloves, he just pounds Blonsky with it and as he beats him chunks fly off until he’s just left with a steering column.

-The Hulk thunderclap.

-There’s a very subtle breathing effect on the Abomination after he’s been defeated, just to let you know he wasn’t killed without being too blatant.

The Bad:

-Where did Bruce get all his equipment?  He has, like, a whole lab and it’s been less than a year since his last incident.  In less than a year of working a bottling plant he assembled a lab?  Lab equipment is incredibly expensive, where did he get the money?  He basically starts over at zero after every transformation and it’s not like he can get a real, well-paying job.

-How did Bruce get so good at being covert?  I understand he’s smart and he can adapt but he is like on some CIA spy level.  He’s able to avoid the entire US military for great lengths of time and he’s not just vigilant but is almost psychic in his ability to detect who’s following him.  I could understand such an uncanny ability coming from a person who has spent decades being paranoid and avoiding authorities (military, CIA spies, criminals) but he hasn’t been on the run that long and he assumedly led a regular life until then.

-I’m not a fan of Liv Tyler, I liked Jennifer Connely in the role previously.  She has moment but I could have done with a different Betty Ross.  She’s basically a non-entity here, not a whole lot of personality and not what you would call “likeable” she mainly serves as motivation for the main character.  There’s nothing three dimensional about her, she’s just kind of there.

-Blonsky is supposed to be former KGB (Russian intelligence agency, a spy), here he’s amended to Russian born SAS (British “special forces”, a soldier).  I don’t know why that change bothers me so much but it does.

-Why would a pizza guy just have an extra pizza?  Why is he carrying around an extra pizza?

-It kind of sucks that Betty just up and immediately dumps the nice guy that she’s with and goes back into relationship mode with Bruce.  There doesn’t really seem to be much regret or a second thought from Betty.  Just “Bruce is back.  I must be with Bruce.” If you loved Bruce so much why move on at all?  Just stay single.  It’s really not that hard.  Why involve a seemingly good guy in your weird relationship with your estranged boyfriend.  It’s not like he was dead and if you thought, even for a second, that you would drop everything to be with him again when and if he showed up why would you inflict this weird dynamic on another person?  That makes her immediately unlikable to me.  It would have said more about Betty if she stayed single and they showed Samson trying to be in a relationship with her and her rejecting him then it would at least say something about her and her relationship with Bruce.  As it is it makes her look like someone who just “needs a man in her life” and will take whatever is available regardless of her situation.  Where’s the love?  Where’s the loyalty?  Where’s the trust?

-“We can’t use any of it, they can track all of it.” “Even the lip gloss… I need my glasses.”  The moment is funny but it does nothing for the character of Betty Ross, it’s not said with sarcasm calling Bruce out on his statement or to add humor to the situation, it’s said like a person who truly doesn’t understand and makes the character sound stupid.

-Yeah Bruce, just leave your email up on that GAS STATIONS COMPUTER, I’m sure no one will see something they aren’t supposed to.

-They make it clear that Bruce isn’t in control of Hulk, that he doesn’t even really know what’s going on as Hulk that it’s like a severe “acid trip”.  This is something different from the Ang Lee Hulk, and a way in which the Ang Lee Hulk was superior.  In the Ang Lee Hulk Bruce talks about what being the Hulk is like and he describes as being more lucid but more importantly he says that a part of him likes the power, likes the loss of control.  I think that part is crucial to the Hulk, that there is a part of Banner, a person who’s been weak his entire life, who likes being the unstoppable Hulk.  That there is a part of Banner who doesn’t WANT to get rid of the Hulk.  Why else would the Hulk still be around?  He’s Bruce Banner, probably one of the top 5 most brilliant minds in the Marvel Universe and he’s surrounded by super science, technology and magic and you can’t find a way to get rid of the Hulk?  I think that the part of Banner that likes the Hulk sabotages each attempt to cure him.  That’s the only reason why the Hulk still exists.  They don’t even touch on that in this movie, it’s just immediately dismissed “I don’t know what’s happening as the Hulk, I’m barely conscious of the Hulk, I don’t have control as the Hulk and I don’t want control of the Hulk, I just want it gone.” I think that diminishes the movie and it diminishes the character.

-You just had your camera on this whole time?  How did it survive the helicopter crash?

-I don’t like the ending within the context of the movie.  I like that it shows him in control but on the other hand I didn’t think he WANTED to learn to control it.  Also it only took 31 days to learn to control it?  It just doesn’t go with the character or the whole tone of the film up until that point.  And Banner smiles?  Why is he smiling?  I thought the Hulk was curse?  Why is he suddenly happy about transforming?  Does he suddenly and inexplicably like the power?  He transforms voluntarily and then what happens?  Does he just hang out in the cabin and watch TV?  Hulk = Destruction, why would you transform for no reason?  It’s a terrible ending for this film.

The Ugly:

-I always wonder why, if you know you’re shooting in the rain, you would dress your actress in a white top?  You know she’s going to get soaking wet, you know what happens to white when it gets soaking wet.  You can’t make a different wardrobe choice?  Is a white top that important?  Just throw on a black top for god’s sake.

-It’s raining on everyone but William Hurt.  I guess getting wet wasn’t in his contract.

Final Thoughts:  The saddest thing about this film is that it never became a franchise.  I would have loved to see Samuel Sterns come back as The Leader, to see Phil Dunphy become gamma powered Doc Samson.  There was a lot of potential in this movie for a great franchise, possibly a great trilogy of films.  The biggest problem was in casting, they got Ed Norton who is outrageously talented but even I know that he’s caused problems for almost every production he’s been a part of.  So when Norton did his usual trouble causing he basically killed the chance that this would ever be a franchise.  Now you can argue that Norton was justified in causing trouble (which doesn't seem like as much trouble as there has been on other productions or much trouble at all really) or not, that’s not really the point, the point is they haven’t made a Hulk movie since.

All that being said this is my least favorite Phase One movie.  It has some great moments but it feel’s slower, the pacing is inconsistent, most of the characters are either non-entities or totally unlikeable and the story is just missing that “something”.  This movie has the least amount of replay value, is the hardest to sit though and the least enjoyable when I do.  But that’s compared to some of the best superhero movies in existence.  Put this up against anything not Phase One, even something like Batman Begins, and I would choose this over that half the time.  It has little to do with the Avengers movie, especially since a new actor takes the role after this and it’s not required watching for the Avengers.  There’s a brief scene with Tony Stark and Thunderbolt Ross about the Avengers Initiative but it doesn’t really lead anywhere or affect anything and it only really makes sense when paired with the short movie “The Consultant” included only on the Thor Blu-Ray. 


With Ruffalo taking over the role it’s not like you’re even spending time with the character and getting used to how the actor plays him because all that changes with the cast shift.  I would lean towards skipping this if you aren’t a Hulk fan or a hardcore Marvel fan but it’s not a terrible movie, especially compared to some of the other stuff out there.

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