Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Incredible Hulk Smashes Into The Cinema…Take Two

The fanboy film festival of ’08 continues later this week with the Friday the 13th opening of The Incredible Hulk, staring Edward Norton as Bruce Banner and computer generated photons as the green-skinned, 9 foot tall, 1,500 pound title character.

Here’s The Upshot from Marvel Studios and Universal Pictures: Scientist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) desperately hunts for a cure to the gamma radiation that poisoned his cells and unleashes the unbridled force of rage within him: The Hulk.

Living in the shadows, cut off from a life he knew and the woman he loves—Betty Ross (Liv Tyler)—Banner struggles to avoid the obsessive pursuit of his nemesis—General Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt) and the military machinery that seeks to capture him and exploit his power.

As all three grapple with the secrets that led to the Hulk’s creation, they are confronted with a monstrous new adversary known as the Abomination (Tim Roth), whose destructive strength exceeds the Hulk’s own.

With just a couple days to go until opening, FanBoyWonder has been feeling the urge to go see this film. That’s a far cry from a year ago when—though peripherally aware that this comic book film was in production—we really didn’t give it much thought.

We certainly weren’t chomping at the bit to see another Hulk motion picture following the disappointment that was Ang Lee’s HULK from 2003. Yet we must admit that given the nicely understated marketing campaign one month following Iron Man, FanBoyWonder is intrigued bordering on moderately excited about the coming of The Incredible Hulk.

Is that moderate excitement misplaced? That IS the question.

What Incredible Hulk is NOT is a sequel to Ang Lee’s HULK—for better or worse. Edward Norton and company are gambling that it’s better.

The biggest thing that was wrong with HULK was that director Ang Lee took the premise and the character development TOO seriously. He was respectful of the Hulk’s history…literally to a fault. Which is a crying shame considering how many other comic book movie directors/writers/producers tend to superimpose their own limited, myopic vision onto beloved characters.

Lee’s adaptation of the comic book story line of the abused child by name Bruce Banner who grows up to become gamma-irradiated rage personified was a noble effort but he took that part of the premise WAY too far without proper balance—namely a formidable nemesis for the Hulk.

Face it, Nick Nolte as Bruce’s whack-job dad David Banner (gotta love the Bill Bixby homage) and gamma-mutated dogs just didn’t cut it. The middle of the film in the Grand Canyon with Hulk versus everything Sam Elliott’s General Thunderbolt Ross could throw at it remains quite entertaining but it wasn’t enough to build a film around.

Plus it took FOREVER to get to that point in the film.

Comparisons are inevitable so let’s not avoid it. Edward Norton vs. Eric Bana as Bruce Banner. Both fine actors. Bana did a respectable job given a weak story but he came off flat. Norton, on the other hand, does have that “puny Banner” quality of suppressed desperation to him.

In interviews, it’s encouraging that Norton speaks quite respectfully of the Hulk character both from the comics and from the Incredible Hulk television show of the late 70s staring the late Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno and the new film looks to incorporate both.

As an aside, while the Hulk TV show deviated greatly from the comic book—formatted for television to be essentially a cross between Jekyll & Hyde meets The Fugitive—it was a character driven show that took it’s premise seriously.

We WANTED David Banner to find a cure and that haunting piano music at the end of each episode made the viewer feel for this gentle but dangerous man.

Also, for anyone who thinks Lou Ferrigno was just dumb muscle who showed up, got painted green and flexed, take another look. During the TV Hulk’s quiet moments, Ferrigno wordlessly conveyed great emotion and feeling making “the creature” every bit as sympathetic as the man—THAT’s acting!

Battle of the Betty Rosses (oh if only!). We have nothing against Liv Tyler who we know will do a good job in the new film, but Jennifer Connelly has been a sentimental favorite of ours for many, many years—two words—Mulholland Falls. We’ll just leave at that and move on.

General Thunderbolt Ross—Again nothing against William Hurt. He’s a good actor but we liked Sam Elliott as Ross. To us, he was the perfect rare balance of a military man who was NOT a simple stereotype kill 'em all let God sort of out reactionary.

Elliott made us believe that this was a man who swore an oath to preserve protect and defend when he put on that uniform. Plus, he’s as tough as they come, not matter what the role.

For Mrs. Lovey Wonder, she favors Sam Elliott for a different reason as she’s had a crush on him forever. She once went so far to tell us that we would have a “free pass” if she should ever score Sam Elliott. Other women we’ve spoken with in an informal survey have agreed. Frankly we don’t blame Lovey. Sam’s a man’s man—and besides, we’ve had a crush on his wife Katherine Ross since seeing Butch and Sundance on TV one night in high school.

Best of all, The Incredible Hulk has an adversary in the form of the Abomination played by Tim Roth. For anyone who doesn’t know what kind of really, really bad guy Roth can play, rent 1995’s Rob Roy and check out his portrayal of a Scottish nobleman’s henchman.

FanBoyWonder has confirmed with our own eyes via a you-tube clip that the rumored cameo of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark is true, while Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury also a probability and perhaps even some sort of Steve Rogers/Captain America connection.

This would be a concerted effort by the filmmakers at Marvel Studios to connect these characters in the same motion picture universe with hopefully all roads ending at an Avengers movie.

The Incredible Hulk opens Friday in theatres everywhere. For more, check out the film’s website and see you at the movies.


Blogger Juanita's Journal said...

"What Incredible Hulk is NOT is a sequel to Ang Lee’s HULK—for better or worse. Edward Norton and company are gambling that it’s better.

Regardless of whether or not its better than the 2003 movie, it sounds like a sequel. I've seen the trailer. The movie starts where the 2003 left off . . . in South America.

So, tell me another tale.

2:09 PM, June 11, 2008  
Blogger Juanita's Journal said...

After seeing the 2003 movie again, I've come to the conclusion that I believe it is a lot better than most people give it credit for. You have your opinion. I have mine.

2:11 PM, June 11, 2008  
Blogger FanBoyWonder said...

Hello juanita,

I admit that I haven't seen Lee's HULK in a while so it may indeed stand up as better movie--I will make a point of viewing the movie again start to finish with a fresh eye.

Regarding Incredible Hulk's sequel status--they say officially it's a re-boot.

Yet given that it does start up in South America with Banner having been on the run for 5 years, it may be a non-sequel, sequel in the like of Superman Returns. Go Figure.

Also, I hate to sound like a wet blanket because I DO appreciate your reading and your taking the time to comment.

However, I admit I was taken aback by the all of the NAKED PORN porn picutres on your own blog juanita's abyss.

To each their own but I feel compelled to warn anyone who clicks on your links to BEWARE of ADULT CONTENT!

Please keep reading and thanks again for your comments.


8:37 AM, June 12, 2008  

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