jump to navigation

The Incredible Hulk Review July 17, 2008

Posted by Einar Rowan in Movie Reviews.
add a comment

Let me begin by saying that I enjoyed the relaunch of the mean green fighting machine, The Incredible Hulk. Marvel is the new Carlco for the current generation, giving us a wealth of wonderful stories attached with real actors and reputable directors. Although it has it’s flaws it is no where near as boring as the original Hulk from Ang Lee and way more entertaining than the Superman Returns movie. Both of those movies failed because the directors forgot the reason we read comic books is because in comic books you can make the action and fight sequences as big and bold as you like. The Incredible Hulk should go third in line after Batman Begins and Iron Man as far successful, well made, entertaining superhero movies. I think it is fair to put this above the X-Men movies as well. As good as the X-Men movies are, we all recognize that Wolverine is the most interesting character and deserves his own treatment, which is currently in the works. That will be a movie to see, lets hope the makers of that movie have following the trend of current superhero movies that are winning the audiences and critics over.

The movie starts in Brazil five years after the first Hulk. Banner is working at a soda bottling factory, trying to stay under the radar and figure out a cure for the monster within, until an accident at the factory happens that forces Banner to go back on the run. With a platoon of US Army troops hot on his heels, plus a special weapon on loan from the British SAS, Banner leads them to the factory where he works. At the same time Banner is being chased by the Army he is also being chased by a group of disgruntled coworkers that are upset with Banner. This all comes to head in the factory and the coworkers start to rough up Banner while the Army watches in the distance. By now Banner has been punched in the gut, his heart beat is racing beyond the boiling point, and Hulkamania is about to start. This first battle between the Army and the Hulk was filmed like a horror movie, very dark and the Hulk hiding in the shadows, the silhouette of his massive form moving in the darkness. When you get to see his face for the first time it is a relief to see he does not look like Ang Lee.

Since this is a movie I think everyone who likes these kinds of movies should go see I don’t want to give too much of the story away. If you’ve seen the trailers then you know that there are at least two other sequences, one that is done very well and shot in the daylight on a University campus, and another where the Hulk battles The Abomination. Speaking of which, one of the reasons I thoroughly enjoyed this movie is because Tim Roth is a very underrated actor and a better actor than Ed Norton. Since the movie makers rightfully assume we all know the background story of the Hulk, we are treated to a much healthier dose of story telling with the character arch of Emil Blonsky, played by Tim Roth. It was so bad-ass to see Roth play the tough military type because, to put it in the words of his character, you’re going to have a lot of professional tough guys pissing in their pants when the Hulk shows up again. We all know from the trailers that Blonsky become The Abomination and the best scene from this movie is when Blonsky battles the Hulk at the University campus. This is what really got my attention, because the SFX guys were confident that there creation could be filmed in daylight, not using the dark to hide imperfections.

The CGI is much better this time than the last. The Hulk gets to use weapons this time and uses them with deadly force. We don’t have to wait 40 minutes this time before we see the Hulk, we don’t have to sit through pages upon pages of exposition and character buildup. The Incredible Hulk moves at a quick pace and is only hampered in part by Liv Tyler. She is a wonderful actress but we are getting tired of her angelic, holier-than-thou, pure image. She needs to find a role that can give her a different tone, like a heroin addict or some flawed character. Here her only role is the damsel in distress and the ever loving girlfriend, plus the Generals daughter. I was almost reminded of the scene in King Kong with Naomi Watts when they are in the jungle on the rocks, when the Hulk rescues Tylers character from the scorched earth left by her father and bring her to to a mountain side in the pouring rain. I liked this scene because the director played with the colors and the Hulk almost appears grey, a direct homage to the original comic where the Hulk was painted grey.


Hancock Review July 9, 2008

Posted by Einar Rowan in Einar Rowan, Movie Reviews.
Tags: , ,

*This contains spoilers so be warned if you have not seen it already.*

I am not sure what to make of Hancock. I brought my six year old son to see the movie and had a hard time figuring what the moral of the story is. Is Hancock a Superhero or a (bad) representation of how blacks are viewed in America. Did Will Smith not read the entire script before signing on the dotted line or has he lost touch with his roots, back when he traveled with Jazzy Jeff and was known as the Fresh Prince. It took me a few days to see beyond the special effects wizardry and witty banter between Smith and Jason Bateman, it took me a few days to realize something was terribly wrong with the film.

The movie starts out in typical fashion, introducing us to our lead character and the title of the movie. Speaking of the title, our Superhero is called almost as often by his name as he is called an asshole as well. But I guess Asshole Superhero would not have been a family friendly movie title. The beginning setup shows us who our superhero is, a quasi homeless black man that is begrudgingly woken up from a drunken stupor, by a young boy who brings to his attention a freeway police chase and  then calls him an asshole. Before Hancock can spring into action he has to reach for his bottle of alcohol and adjust his shades and to show that he doesn’t care about anything, Hancock implodes the bench he was sleeping on from the force of his takeoff.  Now the requisite Ludicris rap music starts as Hancock takes swigs from his bottle and flying like only a hungover drunk Superhero can, causing 8 million dollars worth of damage to the city as he apprehends the crazy Asians in the SUV, and then again being called an asshole by the perps before Hancock gets all grumpy about being called an asshole and sticks them and their SUV on top of a building.

Next we get to meet Hancocks Great White Savior, a man that is called the “Bono of PR” who is trying to save world through public relations and played in good form by Jason Bateman. Our Superhero saves him from a train as he is on his way home from a failed PR campaign pitch and Bateman saves Hancock from the growing crowd surrounding Hancock, because his method of stopping the train was not to their approval. Again he is called asshole numours times here and he again reassurtes his blackness by calling a woman a “bitch” but this time it is Hancock that is saved by his savior who wants to help Hancock repair his image by molding him into what the public expects from him. Hancock brings Bateman’s character home and we are introduced to his perfect wife and spunky son, which warms Hancocks cold heart and gives him a taste of being accepted by white America. Within a few minutes Hancock agrees to turn himself in on charges brought on by his last stunt, that caused 8 million dollars worth of damage. The reasoning behind his decision to turn himself in is the belief that people will like him and miss him and need him more than ever if he is locked up. This was the case with Mumia and Stanley Tookie as well, they were never set free but needed more than ever.

Now we are at the mid point of the film and at the moment when the police chief calls requesting Hancock’s assistance, just as Bateman’s character predicted.  Now we get to see Hancock’s transformation from black man that nobody likes to black man everyone likes, because he has changed his ways and conformed to the mainstream view that we all like black people when they are clean, freshly shaven, and polite. I am not making any of this up, this is what is being shown to us and labled as entertainment. Next we are introduced to a group of bank robbers and their leader with a Bad Guy Cliche #1437 “I’m evil and crazy” accent that Hancock mames and disfigures by removing his hand from his arm, after of course being called an asshold yet again.

The last act of this film is where reality and conventional wisdom leave the theater. Throughout the film we see Bateman’s wife, played by Charlize Theron, doing the conventional how wife routine, being the perfect soccer mom. There is a big secret and that is she is actually a Superhero as well. From here on out the movie writers over explain the whole act and and put way to much exposition and information that we could have done with out. But being a Superhero is only the tip of the iceberg.

You see, she is not only a Superhero as well, but also Hancocks wife, his white wife that he is not allowed to be near because he will lose his powers and die. The same goes for her, whereas she was more than happy to live a secret life as a housewife, her husband none the wiser to her abilities. Hancock and his estranged white wife duke it out in front of rising tornado’s, beating each other up for no apparent reason except for Hancock wanting to tell Bateman’s character the truth about his wife and his wife not wanting Hancock to say anything. This is all a mute point because of course when the battle ends, the smoke clears and the sfx renderings are complete they just happen to be right in front of building where Hancocks white savior just failed another spirited PR campaign, and thus he sees his wife in her true form, scrapping it out with Hancock.

This leads to a confusing finale in a hospital when the film turns into any other Superhero movie. Hancock is injured while thwarting a robbery, shot in the gut and rushed to the hospital. His white wife appears only to remind him that she is his weakness and being near her makes him vulnerable and not immortal. But before she can leave so he can heal, the Evil Bank Robber leader returns with a new posse. After a confusing and rather disappointing fight with the baddies as the fire sprinklers are running, we see Hancock almost defeated. He has been shot multiple times and struggling to reach the Evil leader and just before Hancock gets one in the dome, his Great White Savior saves the day and shoots the Evil leader in the back.

The last scene shows Hancock in present day, watching over the city all cleanly shaved and polite, even using a bluetooth headset. Hancock has moved into Uncle Tom’s cabin, has become a servant to society and must stay away from his white wife.  There are twists in movies and then there is this, thinly vield racist views of how we perceive blacks in America. Segregation is over but racism is still rampant and maybe worse some would argue. I feel bad paying to watch this move and wish I could get my money back, I do not want to be contributing to this racist American Hollywood machine.

The Will Smith I once appriciated is now making jokes about the plight of his people to earn repect and equality not because they are different but becuase we are all people. Mr. Smith, you are a citizen of Earth as well, I think you should have paid more attention to what the movie makers where crafting around you and less about having another blockbuster that smells like a large pile of doo doo. Or, at least had them cast Halle Berry as your Amazon Queen and make it more of a love story along the lines of Superman and Lois Lane.