Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Incredibly Boring Movie

I don't quite understand the way some critics and reviewers have defended The Incredible Hulk, by saying that it's a different take on the Hulk story from Ang Lee's. How is that a justification or vindication? Here are two movies about the same subject, a guy suffering from gamma poisoning who turns into an uncontrollable green giant, and Lee did a better job. End of story.

From what I'd read, the new Hulk is the fanboy version, as opposed to the previous version for grown-ups. And so, I had expected lots of exciting action and cool Hulk-smashings. What I didn't expect was to start fidgeting halfway through the movie, impatiently waiting for it to end. I wasn't expecting it to reach the same levels as Ang Lee's version. Let's face it, no one can do what Lee does. But the new Hulk didn't even give me good entertainment. The action was repetitive - hell, the entire movie was repetitive. You can summarise it all into this: Bruce Banner hides, military discovers him, Hulk smash, military bombards, Hulk escapes, Bruce hides, military discovers him, Hulk smash, military bombards, Hulk escapes ... repeat till ad nauseum.

If anything, this new version could actually be seen as a sequel to the first Hulk. At the end of the first movie, Bruce Banner ended up in the Amazon. This new movie rushes through the gamma radiation origin story in the title sequence, then opens with Banner in Brazil. The emotion in The Incredible Hulk runs for about five minutes before it all goes flat for the rest of the movie. The chemistry between Edward Norton and Liv Tyler is almost non-existent.

Ang Lee's Hulk delved into not just the psychological aspects of the Hulk story, but also the relationship between the parents and their children (the Banners and the Rosses). Simply, it's about how parents always want their children to be like them, but their children will always hope to grow up different from their parents. Ang Lee hits all the right notes and adds meat to the story, and even muscle and mood to the action sequences.

All the new Hulk's action sequences will do is to inspire ten-year-olds to go home and smash their Lego sets. A review I read pointed out how aesthetically flat the movie is, compared to Lee's version. Apart from the strong colours and comicbook-like panels, Lee's version was aimed at emulating the kind of classic horror of Universal's Frankenstein or the darkness of it. This latest version seems only interested in bringing stuff from the comicbook onto celluloid to get the fans cheering.

The nicest thing in the film, though, is the tribute to the original Banner, Bill Bixby. Blink and you'll miss it.

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