Friday, July 15, 2016

Family Movie Night: The Incredible Hulk

Title: The Incredible Hulk
Director: Louis Leterrier
Original Release: 2008
Choice: Mine
My Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5
via Scratchpad
Our exploration of superhero movies continues with 2008's The Incredible Hulk, starring Edward Norton who also did significant, though uncredited work on the script.  As we join the story, Bruce Banner is hiding out in Rio: hiding from the Hulk that lurks within him and hiding from the military who want to exploit his terrifying powers.  Once discovered, he makes his way back to the Virginia university where the Hulk was created (the origin story was altered a bit for the movie) and Dr. Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), the woman he loves.

Hulk is The Avengers' tortured soul and at least potentially the gang's most interesting character.  Banner doesn't want his powers at all but as long as he has them, would want them used for good.  The Hulk, however, while inhabiting Banner's body, exists on the fine line between his host's ability and inability to control him.  I like the Hulk/Banner conflict we see in this film.  The Betty character is crucial to making it work.  He can't make love to her as Banner for fear the excitement will spark his transformation.  As Hulk, only Betty seems able to bring out the gentle giant within him.  Black Widow has taken on this role in later films.

I realize not everyone likes Norton, the Marvel filmmakers included, apparently, as they gave the part to Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers and beyond.  I've always been a fan of Norton, ever since his astonishing 1996 film debut in Primal Fear.  His looks fall short of the traditional leading man but his range is always impressive.  He's been nominated for Oscars three times and an eventual win seems inevitable once the right part comes along.  I like him as Banner.

13 comments:

  1. Norton tried to strongarm Marvel over the role and deserved to get dropped. He deserved to be dropped and replaced for this movie, but they's passed the point of that before they realized it. He kept threatening to quit if he didn't get his way, and I think the movie suffered for it. Ruffalo is much much better, and Hulk may never get another solo movie because of the damage Norton did.

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    1. Any and all problems in the two solo Hulk film to date involve shoehorning big, giant monster villains into the plot. On a human scale, they work just fine.

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    2. Tony: The problems with Norton were behind the scenes. I like both movies just fine. But Norton acted like a baby with Marvel over it with his repeated, "If I don't get my way, I'm going to walk." And, once they finished the movie, they let him do just that, which he didn't expect and threw a tantrum over.
      I have no respect for that kind of behavior.

      He was fantastic in Birdman.

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    3. When we saw Civil War, Mock brought up the difficulty of going back to solo adventures for any of the characters in light of the Avengers' success. But all of the individuals have been around for so long and are attached to so many stories that I think there's plenty of room. That said, it may be a while.

      Compare this with Star Wars, where despite the possibilities offered by the expanded universe, the films themselves have an awfully narrow focus. Out of seven episodes, they've blown up a Death Star three times. We're also way too stuck on the Skywalker family. As much as I enjoyed #7, it's time for something new. I'm particularly hopeful for the Han Solo and Boba Fett standalones.

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    4. TAS: The story arc for what I'll call the core movies is about the Skywalker family. I have no problem with those movies staying focused on that. I do, however, want them to go beyond that extensively with other stories. A lot is riding on Rogue One; unfortunately, they chose a crappy director AND allowed him to have writing privileges. Early reports are saying that, right now, the movie is a turd.

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    5. Even if it's a turd... I can't wait! I'm sure to watch it in theaters at least twice.

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  2. Sorry I can not comment on this movie. Your review was wonderful as always.
    Norton always reminds me of the smirking smartalec you knew in school and work. The few roles I saw him in reminds me of this. Playing to type for me. So I have a hard time going to movies that have him in it.
    The movie was I assume good but I would and did pass on it.

    cheers, parsnip and thehamish

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    1. Like I said he is clearly not for everyone.

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  3. I suspect Norton has a hard time getting respect because he's still incomprehensible in a world where he's far from average. Makes him perfect to play Bruce Banner, though.

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    1. I understand that after hearing all the reviews from Birdman. But for me even though I like Superhumans, this movie/ character never appealed to me, so I didn't watch it. Which seems like a story I would enjoy ? All the drugs I take can take a toll on the brain.
      Concereding I liked HellBoy.

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    2. On one does wonder, in light of the Hulk fiasco, about possible difficulties some have in working with him: an under appreciated aspect of the biz. The talent is undeniable but if you're a jerk, the phone calls will stop.

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  4. I used to enjoy The Incredible Hulk TV show, but never saw the movie. Interested to see Edward Norton was involved. He's one clever cookie!

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    1. I don't remember if I ever watched an episode all the way through. In the movie, there are a couple of treats for fans of the TV show.

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