Saturday, June 14, 2008

Movie Review - The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk is something of a cross between The Bourne Identity and King Kong. We certainly hope that you don't misconstrue this as a negative, puny reader, for nothing could be further from the truth. We enjoyed the film greatly, and would quickly recommend it. However it is not what we might have expected, nor should it have been. This, like the film that preceded it, is something of a surprise.

In terms of genre, this is as much a monster movie as a superhero flick. The Hulk is seldom treated like a hero - it's easier to root for the villain during their early encounters. The Hulk, well, he is prone towards smashing things, and, for the purposes of this discussion, people are a type of thing. The soldier who goes after the Hulk, while certainly less than lovable, is relentless, brave, and, well, human. When he acquires super powers, it briefly feels as though he is the hero.

Of course, this is before he grows spikes and starts slaughtering civilians, but that's beside the point.

The Hulk is a creature, a monster. In many ways, as we mentioned above, he reminds us of King Kong from Peter Jackson's (iD&Di: .90) remake. He is a force of nature and a beast with a soul. But he is never safe to be around: if he doesn't decide to kill you, there are plenty of other hazards in his wake.

But then, the Hulk isn't the star of this picture: Banner is. This is his movie first and foremost, and he truly shines as a man carrying a monster inside him. The film gives a very realistic appraisal of his situation and his trials. For example, we feel his pain and his frustration as he seeks out stretchy pants, again and again. It is, perhaps, Shakespearean in its own way.

We would be remiss in failing to mention that Hulk holds up his share of continuity. Banner's story unfolds in the same world as Iron Man's, a fact the movie is more than happy to remind us of.

Yes, this movie is at once a brooding suspense film, an action movie, a comic book story, and an exercise in marketing. For the record, we have waited years for superhero franchises to develop the cohesive continuity of comic book universes. Now that it's here, we couldn't be happier. Perhaps the most notable point about the Incredible Hulk is that it stands on its own while existing in an established movie. The references to Shield, the Super-Soldier program, and Stark Enterprises never feel forced or out of tone. That alone is truly a feat.

If five stars were equal to Fight Club, The Incredible Hulk would no doubt be three and a half. This is well worth your time and money. The second great superhero movie of the year has been released; here's hoping the other three (Hancock, Hellboy 2, and The Dark Knight) fare as well.

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