The Incredible Hulk

It’s been a while since I put my reviewing fingers to keyboard, so bear with me, whisper reassuring things in my ear and try not to be too disappointed if I reach a premature conclusion *ahem*. What’s that you say? “Hulk”? Okay then…

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

It’s almost impossible to start reviewing this film without first thinking about 2003’s “Hulk” directed by Ang Lee. Whilst personally I don’t have a problem with it, the fanboys were livid. Soundbites like “Hulk doesn’t smash enough” and “It’s too long and boring” were whinged in the way that only grown men who still live with their parents can whinge. So, earlier this year we were given “The Incredible Hulk”, a sort of remake cum sequel which bypasses Ang Lee’s version completely.

“You wouldn’t like me when I’m…hungry”

The basic plot is that after becoming the Hulk, Bruce Banner (Ed Norton) is forced to go on the run from the military. We pick up the story in Brazil where Banner has been incognito for months. However, an accident at the bottling factory where he works gives away his position to the army who will stop at nothing to take him in. To be honest, the plot isn’t exactly amazing, but at least it isn’t ridiculously complex and fraught with angst and repression like 2003’s offering. It does its job without being patronising. It’s pacier and funnier too- two welcome additions to the slow burning “Hulk”

Ed Norton is a great Banner. I don’t know why, but I never bought Eric Bana as the character in the 2003 version. I think it’s maybe because Norton has shown a dark side in films such as “American History X” and “Fight Club” that I believe he is this nice guy with a monster dwelling within. In fact all the cast are great. The stand-out performance for me though was Tim Roth’s Emil Blonsky. I honestly think Hollywood has overlooked Roth. He’s never turned in a duff perfomance to my knowledge and has always brought something interesting to the characters he plays. Plus it’s nice to see a British man not being portrayed as gay or crumpet eating. Refreshing.

“HULK SMASH!”

There’s more action too. I always liked the Hulk versus the Army scene in “Hulk” but there just wasn’t enough of it. It honestly felt like it was there so that they could make a decent trailer to bring in the punters. “The Incredible Hulk” addresses this by giving us more of Hulk, well, smashing. There’s an impressive sequence at a college and the monster mash-up between Hulk and Abomination is fantastic. I just knew they nailed the Hulk when he smashes a police cruiser in two and uses the pieces and huge metal gauntlets. Brought a huge smile to my face, I can tell you. Having said that, I still don’t feel that the Hulk is being used to his full potential. My impression from the comics was that Hulk was a wild, untameable force of destruction. In this film he seems quite contained in comparison. More destruction for the sequel please.

Oh, one other thing- FUCKING IRON MAN IS IN IT! Yep, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) makes an appearance and once again teases us with the forthcoming “Avengers” film. Thank God for Marvel Studios. I never dreamed of a world in which a character from a Paramount owned franchise could appear in a Universal film. I could have wept with joy when I watched it in the cinema. Honestly. I’m that sad. Anyway, “The Incredible Hulk” gets a great:

Iron Man

Yep, it’s movie review time again. This time round it’s “Iron Man”. You may be wondering why the films I review are in such a strange order. Well, it’s literally the order in which I see them. It’s the turn of “Iron Man” this time ‘cos my imported Blu-ray from the U.S. arrived the other day. Anyway, does “Iron Man” soar or sink? Has he lost his mind? Can he see or is he blind? Sorry, couldn’t resist…

Iron Man (2008)

The best thing about Marvel comics was the fact that all the superheroes’ stories occasionally interlocked and crossed over. As a kid I was an avid reader of “The Amazing Spider-Man” comics and thanks to Marvel, I knew who Daredevil was, who the X-Men were and so on and so forth. The story of Tony Stark was well-known to me. Billionaire industrialist creates suit to stop him from dying and decides to fight crime and injustice. Crueler critics than I have just dismissed Iron Man as a rip-off of D.C. Comics’ Batman. I disagree. Iron Man has so much more to offer.

“Is it better to be feared or respected? I say, is it too much to ask for both?”

Onto the film. I was extremely pleased when I heard that they’d signed Robert Downey Jr. to play Tony Stark. He pretty much is Tony Stark without even trying, and it shows throughout the film. He’s brilliant. He handles the dramatic and action scenes just as well as the swaggering, “I’m the coolest guy in the World” scenes. “Iron Man” just feels different to your average superhero affair and I’m certain it’s because of Favreau’s direction and Downey Jr.’s acting. It just feels more natural and real. Well, as real as a film about a man in a flying metal suit can be…

For about two thirds of the runtime, I thought “Iron Man” was the perfect superhero film. It was funny, action packed and just that little bit different. Many reviews have cited the slight downturn of the film starting at the point when the film’s villain is revealed. I don’t think this is the case. I reckon it’s the change in the character of Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). At the start she is a smart, capable woman who’s more than a match for Tony Stark. By the end she’s the stereotypical damsel in distress shouting lines such as “But you’ll die!” and so on. It’s a shame too as she was a dead cert for my book of “The Least Annoying Sidekicks Ever “. She does pull it back by the end, but the damage had been done by that point.

“Let’s face it, this is not the worst thing you’ve caught me doing”

All in all though, “Iron Man” is great. It’s the antidote to the awesome but depressing film that is “The Dark Knight”. It’s got some fantastic dialogue, great special effects and some genuinely touching moments. It’s solid gold (titanium alloy).