Predictable Direction Taken For Newest “Hulk”

PG-13, 114 minutes, Universal Pictures

Okay, so here I am finding myself trying to play major catch-up on a lot of summer films I saw over the last three months, and it all starts with The Incredible Hulk, a new version that pleased most of the audience members that LOATHED Ang Lee’s 2003 take on the mental dilemma of Bruce Banner, although I was one who really appreciated the thoughtful work of that film. Most of the flack that Lee’s version got back then was that it was boring, too talky and without the right dose of bashing action that would normally be guaranteed by a Hulk project. I have continued to back that film in heated arguments that have so frequently arose in the five years since its release, giving my argument in favor of the film’s audacity to take it in a more psychological uncovering direction, but I still also felt it had plenty of action sequences, it’s just that the conversations and contemplative portions were the main focus. That obviously spells disaster commercially if you’re taking on a comic book summer project, but kudos will forever go to Lee for daring to keep with his choice. With that being said, it was obvious from the many trailers of this new one, called The Incredible Hulk as opposed to simply Hulk, was promising to be a 180 of Lee’s film, delivering action upon action at breakneck pace.

Even knowing that I would ultimately end up preferring the previous take on Hulk, I was still sort of psyched to give a chance to this new one, and solely because of the excellent choice of actors all around. Edward Norton was an intriguing and good choice for Banner, and down the line the cast is filled with respectable names, like Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, and Tim Blake Nelson…so this sort of easily became something to give a chance to. What’s really sad, however, is that this is such a typical money-hungry Hollywood superhero movie, that it focusing entirely on effects and action, even managing to leave outstanding actors behind to eat dust, with nothing to make their characters interesting at all. There are unexplainable sequences in this film where dialog is basically halted in mid-development to step aside for arrogant, interruptive action extravaganzas…and believe me, this movie is on steroids, which is why it became ten times more of a hit than Lee’s version. Shortly before this film was released in theaters in late June, there was a statement that came out that Norton was so unpleased with the fact that they cut out scenes that he felt were important to the overall development of the story, that he refused to include himself in any type of publicity for it. Whatever respect I had for Norton as an actor who appreciated his craft before knowing that, which was quite a lot, I have loads more now. Watching the film it is easy to understand his irritation with it, and I can even imagine how frustrated he must be, knowing that he spent months of his time giving his all to the film.

In an era that seems to be the defining one for thoughtful superhero movies to finally find a wide, marketable avenue, this new Hulk is the complete opposite, but still pleases people across the world, and I suppose that’s because grown people still do enjoy wrestling and baffling things like that. The first half of the film is nearly bearable, but as it all chugs along to a finale that becomes repetitive and like a Hollywood-sized, HGH version of the Rampage video game on the silver screen, the characters (and the wonderful actors who try so hard to inhabit their hollowly-written selves) are designated to pawns in a game that becomes as senseless as most anything I’ve seen all summer. Now I’ve realized just why I haven’t written about this film until now.

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2 Responses to “Predictable Direction Taken For Newest “Hulk””

  1. wordlesschorus Says:

    I totally agree and I definately think Ang’s version is superior, however flawed. One of the few movies this summer, that in theatres, I had trouble keeping my attention on.

    Oh and Dandelion is a very cool movie, and man is it pretty. I think that a few cinematographers have had better single films than Orr, but he is my overall favorite. Specifically Roger Deakins work in Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is my favorite visually. Or Benoit Dellhommne’s work in The Proposition.

  2. Ferguson Says:

    I agree with you…I grew very tired of this film about half way in, and then when the final battle began to take place, I was anxious to leave.

    As far as favorite cinematographers go, I’d have to put Robert Richardson somewhere high on my list. Emmanuel Lubezki’s work in “The New World” is certainly one of my all-time favorite single pieces of work.

    I think we’ve found our first collaborative list topic. Do some analyzing of your favorite cinematographers AND your favorite single pieces of work. Sound like a plan?

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