Just Pillow Talk v Marvel Comics! Number 2: HULK SMASH PUNY JPT!
If there’s one argument that never goes away, then this one is it: Chinese Hulk v French Hulk. Now, from my side of the fence, I think they’re both pretty terrible films, and wouldn’t give either of them anything remotely approaching a decent rating. However, this isn’t my quest, so what I think doesn’t matter a jot. Just Pillow Talk’s trek through the comic book adaptations continues below with a double-header of Ang Lee’s terrible Hulk and Louis Leterrier’s boneheaded and mostly terrible The Incredible Hulk.
Let the SMASHING commence:
HULK SMASH DOUBLE FEATURE!!!!
The two Hulk movies have, let’s just say, divided our esteemed Changian type community. It has turned bastards into bigger bastards as they seek desperately to defend failed attempts at bring the green giant to the big screen and actually make a good movie.
Ang Lee attempted to approach his hulk film a little differently, trying to film it as a comic book, the way shots are framed, the side-by-side of actors, the overlapping of shots, etc. I just don’t think it works and serves more as a distraction.
The movie begins in the 60’s with Bruce’s daddy conducting experiments for the army and juicing up his own son with gamma juice. Across the board the acting is pretty piss poor in this early section. Fast forward to the present time and Bruce (Eric Bana) is working in Berkley doing science stuff, there’s some back story romance with Betty (Jen Connelly), Josh Lucas is trying to lure Betty away and take over Bruce’s research, and Daddy Banner (Nick Nolte) is snooping around gather hair follicles from his son. There’s an accident at the lab and Bruce is exposed to gamma radiation, seemingly unaffected.
Of course he has bad dreams of iguanas, toads, jelly fish…yes…this is complete horseshit. While in the hospital recovering, daddy shows up and tells him that he’s his dad and things are not all normal in Brucie land. It all sets up a conflict of children vs. their daddy’s. Daddy Banner views all Ross’s as a threat to his son, to his uniqueness, which the world would not stand for in his eyes.
So let’s talk Hulk transformation, which is shit. It’s CGI at its worst. The Hulk seems like he has no presence, no weight to him as he moves. When bullets hit him, it looks…off. I also don’t like the fact that he gets bigger and bigger as he gets more angry. It just looks stupid that he’s like 25 feet tall. I think in the intimate moments when he’s just looking at Betty, the Hulk looks okay, but in action, not so good. The fight with the Hulk poochies is a mixed bag, and I think that sums up the CGI Hulk. There are times during the movie where the special effects are effective enough, but other times where they look downright horrible. I think the hulked out dogs look a bit silly, but the actual fight is handled decently. So half the movie is gone by, in a Hulk movie no less, and we finally got an action scene. WTF. That’s like making a Transformers movie and waste time with jerking off jokes or robots being pissed on instead of robots battling. Thanks Mr. Lee at your valiant attempt to put me to sleep. You got to Mrs. Pillow already, as she complained just before nodding off “This is such a long movie about nothing.”
Bruce ends up being captured and brought to the desert base, Daddy Banner gets himself changed into an absorbing man type bad guy, and Josh Lucas tries to forcibly remove some of Bruce’s DNA to replicate the Hulkiness and sell it on the open market to major league baseball players. Things go sour and the Hulk escapes, hello horrible CGI. At least in the underground base he looks pretty bad. Once he’s outside battling the tanks and helicopters, it’s better, still not great, but better. This goes on for too long, the Hulk bounding around the desert. He ends up getting captured again (damn you Betty!) and, in a move I call quite questionable, the army decides to bring in Daddy Banner to talk to Bruce. Um, you already know that Bruce has issues, including repressed memories of daddy, and yet you decide to bring in daddy to talk to him? Sort of alone in like a warehouse, with no way of preventing Bruce from turning into the Hulk? WTF.
The final battle between Hulk and Daddy is pretty cool, but fuck, did it take fucking forever to get to that point. So that counts as a good mark for this movie (the final battle, not the amount of time it took to get there), as is Jen Connelly, who I think is hot and I thought she did a good enough job playing Betty. She conveyed her feelings for Bruce effectively. Bana, who I tend to like, doesn’t really register one way or another as Bruce. His acting was fine, yet I could care less what happens to him. Nolte is entertaining in spots, and Sam Elliot as General Ross is blah. This movie is devoid of fun. However, I will award it ½ a purple pants out of 4 for the final battle and Jen Connelly.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Okay Mr. Leterrier, you’re up next to try to make an entertaining Hulk movie. I mean, it shouldn’t be that fucking hard, right?
Different cast, director, etc, but it could almost be a sequel in that the transformation has already occurred and Bruce Banner is on the run in South America, much like The Hulk ended with Eric Bana. Here Bruce Banner is trying to live a “normal” life in Brazil, seeking ways to keep his anger under control and working in a bottling factory. It’s during once such day at the factory where he cuts himself and some of his blood lands on some bottles which get shipped off to the U.S. Back to that in a moment, Bruce is also in contact with another scientist who is trying to help him cure his little green problem. He ends up sending a blood sample to a “Mr. Blue”. Now that pesky bottle ends up getting drunk, with adverse reactions to the gamma infested blood, which leads General Ross to send a team (led by Tim Roth) to locate Bruce.
What follows is a pretty good chase through the streets and a decent battle in the bottle factory. I would say that it’s probably as good if not better than any action piece in The Hulk. The next action piece involves yet again some military trucks and a helicopter, which the Hulk easily disposes of. The added feature in this round is Tim Roth’s character being super powered with some gamma serum. He holds his own for a while until he inexplicably stands right in front of the Hulk mocking him. HULK NO LIKE MOCKING…HULK KICK! He promptly kicks him into a tree. His body is broken but thanks to the gamma infusion, he makes a quick recover and is itching to get back into the game.
Bruce finally meets up with Mr. Blue and they are able to successfully remove the green monster from him. Alas, General Ross shows up and they take Bruce into custody. Tim Roth decides to have Mr. Blue inject him with further gamma juice and he turns into the Abomination. Mass destruction ensues and they decide to turn Bruce back into the Hulk to combat the Abomination. Big fight. Hulk win.
Looking at this movie by itself, without comparing to the previous Hulk movie, how is it? Eh, it’s kind of meh. I don’t know if it’s because it’s the Hulk or what, maybe the character suffers from the Superman syndrome…all powerful and usually stacked up against really shitty adversaries. At the end of the movie he finally gets a worthy villain, one who is as powerful as him, to match himself against. The actual story is pretty shit, but then again, they still haven’t moved on from the General Ross must catch Hulk storyline. It’s the Lex Luthor of Hulk storylines I guess. Enough. Let’s see the Hulk go against some super team of villains of something, change it up.
Comparing the two Hulk movies, I say the action is better in this one, it doesn’t have that annoying as fuck split screen, comic booky shit in it, and it’s a bit shorter. Jen Connelly is the better Betty in my opinion, with Liv pulling her soft spoken bit which just comes across weak. Norton is not weighed down by Daddy issues, so for that alone, his Banner is better than Bana’s. I suppose I’d give Elliot the advantage in the Ross character, but really him and Hurt don’t do anything for me. Villains? I don’t know, I guess I have to give Roth the advantage since he at least faces the Hulk multiple times in different incarnations of himself as he progresses to the green side.
Edge: The Incredible Hulk.
I still only give it 1.5 purple pants out of 4. Still searching for a good Hulk movie, which I doubt will ever be forthcoming, not that I think there’s a big clamoring for one anyway.