Wednesday, June 18, 2008

18th June 08 - The Incredible Hulk

It was with a raised eyebrow that I heard the news they were making a new Hulk film. Ang Lee’s green monster didn’t go down well at all with the masses, his sloth-paced approach clashing with the wham bam marketing campaign that went along with it. People went in expecting lots of smashing action, and instead got a measured drama, which is pretty good but does take about twenty days to get going.

So what makes this film different to the first? Well, Old Hulk was directed by the Sense and Sensibility guy. The new Incredible Hulk is directed by the Transporter Two guy. You literally couldn’t get any more different - from vast dramatic silences to fighting with half a melon on your fists. Granted, Louis Leterrier managed to inadvertently create one of the funniest films of all time, but it was a little concerning that he’d be taking over the franchise. Thankfully, despite wedging in a “hot Brazilian in overalls slow-mo” shot in the first ten minutes, Leterrier captures what everyone wants to see in a Hulk film. Yes, some brooding drama. But mostly, major carnage by a big green dude.

The ever brilliant Edward Norton takes on Banner’s shoes, crestfallen and skinny, capturing the essence of Banner as much as Downy Jr captured the essence of Stark. Tim Roth growls his way through the bad guy role. He’s British - ergo bad guy - but was “born in Russia” so he’s pretty damn hard too (you can’t be hard if you’re only from Britain, unless you're called Winstone) and has a laughably drawn-on six pack. And Liv Tyler floats around in the background with her massive lips, doing not much except looking forlorn.

And as for the man himself. Well, he’s oddly CGI’d, but almost perfectly so, tossing cars around like they’re toys and pouting like a big angry green toddler who’s just been told off for hitting his brother with a spade. Hulk definitely bashes, and there’s not a whole lot else you can do with the character. What Leterrier does do is throw sly winks to the audience that are certain to crack smiles, whether it’s ace cameos or wry plays on the old favourites - “you wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry” quotes Banner in poor Portuguese (though to me hunger and anger are pretty much the same thing.)

Let’s be honest - I really thought this was going to be shit. Like the crazy hulk dogs scene from the first one, but for two hours interspersed with shots of women in bikinis and Linkin Park playing in the background. So it was nice to see a film that, yes, isn’t a masterpiece by any means, but is good fun, sticks to its roots and entertains for its whole running time without resorting to aliens or gophers. Hulk gets a CF1 for being a bashing good time. Plus it showed just how insanely fantastic the new Marvel studio is, with juicy cross-overs and hints at a future where Marvel characters dip in and out of a steady stream of super comic book films and oh my god I am a massive massive nerd aren’t I…

But only in an ironic way.

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