The Ang Lee Hulk movie had that great scene where the Hulk fought army tanks in the desert, but other than those all-too-brief two minutes, the movie had some kind of strange and intense aversion to depicting what we all paid to see – a big angry green guy ripping shit up!
Was it too soon for Marvel Studios to put out a new Hulk? Heck no! Is it ever too soon (or too late) to make a movie about a big angry green guy ripping shit up? The problem with the Ang Lee Hulk was that it spent all that time on character development, and ultimately it didn’t make you know or care any more about the characters at the end than you may have at the beginning. The new movie doesn’t have that problem. It’s a chase movie with fight scenes, more Bourne than anything else, which means you get your character development on the fly, and no more or less than you absolutely need. Which is why it works.
Here’s what else I liked:
- Ed Norton. As much as I like Eric Bana as an actor, Norton is better casting for the role. Bana plays torment well, but in nearly every role he takes, Norton is scary-smart, and that’s the ideal Hulk-Banner combo right there. And not to spoil anything, but by the end of the movie, Norton seems to have morphed back into his look from The Illusionist.
- Liv Tyler. I’m not particularly a huge fan, but she comes off as just plain sweet, in this movie and others. It really works in the scenes where she soothes the savage beast, so to speak. The Hulk eases off the bigger beat-downs because he doesn’t want to upset Liv, basically. Sounds silly, but as it plays out: very believable.
- Craig Armstrong is the Scottish composer of classy, urbane scores for movies like Moulin Rouge. (I highly recommend his album Piano Works for the Bruce Banners among us who could use a calmer moment or fifteen.) While I thought the Danny Elfman score was one of the few things that worked just fine about the Ang Lee Hulk, I was really into the music in the newer movie. Perfectly complemented the action and the mood; kept both moving.
- The new CGI Hulk looks like Charles Bronson in Hard Times, if he had contracted scurvy. Big, angry, green guy. With fists.
- The Abomination is a giant skeleton with a British accent. Which conjures up friendly feelings about Army of Darkness, and results in a slightly cooler nemesis than the previous movie’s ‘Dark Nolte’.
- Speaking of Army of Darkness, Ty Burrell (pre Modern Family fame, as Betty’s new boyfriend Dr. Samson) looks a whole lot like Bruce Campbell post-mentoplasty.
- William Hurt is can’t-miss as a conflicted villain.
- Tim Roth is can’t-miss as an unconflicted villain.
- Lastly: The evil army scientist who gives Tim Roth the gamma-epidural is an absolute ringer for Barack Obama. Therefore it makes sense that he be the architect of the Obama-Nation.
(This was written in 2008, before such groaners became common place in right-wing rhetoric. Blame Central Casting for setting up the softball on the bad-pun tee, not me for taking the swing.)
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