A modern classic
from Wrexham, North Wales
, 17 Mar 2009
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
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I am a huge advocate for this movie, and I for one think time will prove it to be better than the 2008 apadtation.
Ang Lee was the perfect choice to direct this film. Remember back to the Hulk TV series, what made that so good, and something Lou Ferrigno loved about it, was that it had a lot of character, Banner and Hulk were both given a lot of character, a lot of depth. Ang Lee is a marvelous director when it comes to portraying character and providing depth and history. Hulk is one superhero who needs a lot of time given over to the characterization, to the history, to the depth. He needs it to make him believable as a hero, rather just as an untamed monster that bashes things. Most people going to see this movie were expecitng 'Hulk Smash', not 'Hulk grows'.
I love this film for the time taken to explain how the Hulk is created, to make you feel for both Banner and the Hulk. What I particularly like is how Hulk is portrayed as being the unfortunate victim of circumstance, because thats exactly what he is. He's not some raving uncontrollable monster, Hulk has feelings and emotions and is often villified because of his immense power and his anger. But the reader of the comics, the viewers of the TV series, and the viewers of this movie are able to sit back and see Hulk for what he is. I love the depth and genuine feeling given to the characters in this movie.
Yes a 'Hulk Smash' film is fun, and the 2008 film is entertaining enough with it, but this film will remain my favourite because it makes Hulk seem human, and a character you can sympathize with.
I also think it was pointless and somewhat petty to scrub out Bana, Connelly and Sam Elliot from the new movie. They all did fantastic jobs in their roles and should have been allowed to continue.
I also actually really liked the CGI in this movie, the Hulk looked a lot like the cartoon Hulk, which I always liked seeing. I hate the new look Hulk in this new movie, at times it looks truly awful (check the very last scenes of the Hulk/Abomination fight with Hulks maniacal grin when choking abomintion). I still prefering Ang Lee's Hulk to this one.
What riles me the most is both the studio AND Marvel, their reactions to Ang Lee's film. They got in Ang Lee because they knew he could do a magnificent job with the characters, which he does, and then they villify him because the film gets such a mixed reaction.
Lee's version is infinitely superior to the new version, but it falls down in one way, it doesn't have a great ending and a great 'boss fight'. Superman Returns doesn't have a boss fight, but it has an ending that makes sense in terms of its story, and ultimately we can see Superman being Superman whilst he is doing his thing. Similary with The Dark Knight, it has boss fight, but they're not really huge punch ups like we've seen in other superhero films, they're more battles on emotional and intellectual level. There's a bit of a fight between Batman and the Joker, but ultimately the battle is about Bruce Wayne beating Joker at his games. Except Joker still has an ace in the hole with Harvey Dent. So, more mindgames. Then Harvey is the 2nd boss fight, and Bruce needs to appeal to Harvey on an emotional level to defeat him. Sure, Batman overcomes Dent physically, but it is the appealing to his better nature that makes Dent stall and is ultimately his downfall. Again we see Batman being Batman whilst doing his thing.
In Lee's Hulk, Hulk never really had that opponent of equal ability. And by that I don't just mean abomination. The dogs, putting aside how silly they were, were just purely animals and you never really felt Hulk was in trouble, only frustrated at not being able to get a clear shot to finish them. The battle with the tanks was excellent to watch, but a couple of tanks neer really posed all that much of a threat. Hoever that made for an excellent section And I have to be honest, if we'd had more of the Hulk during the first 45 minutes of the film, that desert section, with a bit of tweaking could have made a decent ending, as its a nice entertaining fight scene. Instead we get Absorbtion man. An interesting character, and one that certainly would work in any superhero movie, but was badly thought out in this one. It wouldhave worked far better had he been made to absorb rock and become a huge rock monster, or steel and become a steel monster, something that HUlk could really have a good old punch up with. And whilst I liked how the ending continued the dramatic and cerebral approach to the movie, I think that it was too much, and not enough of Hulk getting down and dirty. Whilst I often comment about how all people see in Hulk is HULK SMASH, and don't appreciate the value in the cerebral approach of Ang Lee, Hulk DOES need to SMASH at some point. We got some of that at the desert, which is why it could have been an acceptable end, but then completeion of the story was necessary, and doing something better with Absorbtion Man would have been better all around.
But putting all that aside for the moment, I do think that if Lee's movie was to be released now, it would get better press. Not much better, but better. What TDK does better than Ang's Hulk is that there is a lot more action and tension interspersed between the intellectual approach and dialogue. Definitely helped along by having an identfiable villain from the get go, tdk also intersperses jumps between Bruce and Batman, then Harvey and Joker, all the while we're kept up to date on theimportant figures in the movie, and you never really knew f a scene was going to be wordy or have some measure of action in it.
Now, whilst Hulk is a different prospect, being that there was an origin story, and Hulk needs a reason to grow and be seen, rather than Banner just throwing on a costume, it still falls down because in all the time its taken to get us to the point when we see the Hulk, theres no urgency about getting him. We're not aware of any real threat, we haven't seen any movements from a prospective viallin. And then, when he DOES appear, we don't get that much more. Ang Lee's film lacks tension in that there is such a depp build up for the character of the Hulk, but there is no trade off in build up for a viable main villain.
If Ang Lee's Hulk interspersed acton and development of the main antagonist in tangible ways between the dialogue and the intellect, it would have been recieved much better when it was, and now that Nolan's Batman has made a cerebral and more human Superhero Story more acceptable, Lee's Hulk, with that little bit of tweaking, would be easily accepted today, and rightly considered the modern masterpiece, the modern classic it truly is.
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