Friday, October 17, 2008

31 Days of Halloween - Day 17 - Movie 2

I didn't think I was going to be able to squeeze another movie in to day, but this showed up on my doorstep, and knowing my son will want to watch it tomorrow, I thought it best to exercise by parental responsibility and prescreen it to make sure it was something he could watch.

"The Incredible Hulk" (2008) is based on the long running Marvel comic book series about scientist Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) who exposed to a high does of gamma radiation transforms into in indestructable, and highly destructive rampaging green monster called the Hulk. Stan Lee, the creator of the character got his idea mainly from the Frankenstein monster, which he married to "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," making this ostensibly super hero movie appropriate for my Halloween viewing in general, and also suitable for inclusion in Frankenstein week.

The movie mostly presumes that everyone knows the Hulk's origin giving only a condensed, dilogue free version during the opening credits. Bruce Banner is hiding in the slums in Brazil, maintaining an anonymous existence while seeking a cure for his inner demon. Naturally, the U.S. military which sees weapons potential in the Hulk has been trying to track Banner down since he vanished, and eventually the find him, causing him to unleash the Hulk and go back on the run, eventually reuniting with his love, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) the daughter of the military general (William Hurt) who pursues him. Along the way, career soldier Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) is subjected to a super soldier serum of his own which he later combines with Banner's blood, turning him into a grotesque parody of the Hulk called the Abomination. Banner seeing the Abomination's rampage gives up his own cure and resumes the role of the Hulk in order to stop the Abomination.

It's a very simple plot which ends up being a rather decent movie. The Hulk and Abomination effects are a mixed bag, looking at best like pretty good CGI or high end video game graphics, when viewed in night time scenes, and looking pretty weak during daylight scenes. Like a lot of CGI characters, they never look real. Having said that it doesn't much matter. The Hulk scenes deliver what you want them to which is a lot of smashing on an immense scale. Vehicles are thrown, soldiers are bashed about, and in my favorite moment, the Hulk fashions a pair of boxing gloves out a torn in half police car. The cast is really good and the human interest portion of the story doesn't feel like filler between Hulk scenes.

The movie ties to the tv series of the 1970s a bit, ignoring the Ang Lee movie. The opening credits of the movie will remind anyone who watched the tv show of the opening credits there. TV series star Bill Bixby has a posthumous cameo on a tv set, Lou Ferrigno makes an appearance as a security guard as well as provides the voice of the Hulk. Even Banner's old tv nemesis, reporter Jack McGee shows up. Stan Lee also has a cameo, and two Hulk villains have their origins here. The movie also crosses over with "Iron Man" as another building block is placed for "The Avengers" (2011) movie.

Quality-wise, this movie was no "Iron Man" but makes for some good entertainment nonetheless.

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