Ang Lee’s Hulk movie wasn’t so good. I didn’t love it, in fact, like most people, I didn’t even really like it much. (Ang Lee, stick to realistic human drama, please.) It was trying to be more than a comic book movie. It had this weird story about Bruce Banner’s father, and these weird, existential underpinnings that just made the viewer scratch their head and ask, “Why are they messing with my Hulk movie? Shouldn’t this just be about a scientist blasted with Gamma radiation that becomes a big pissed-off mutant that smashes stuff?”
Yes. That IS what this movie should be about. And now it is. But we also get a little more, and a little less.
I didn’t read The Hulk comics. I didn’t need to because I watched the Hulk TV show in the mid 70’s. I already knew the origin stuff. And here it’s told in the opening credits. It’s efficient; most people already know that stuff so we get it out of the way immediately. No need to clutter things up with all that exposition, anyway.
I loved that TV show with Lou Ferrigno and Bill Bixby. I loved the tone of it; this lone man wandering around the world trying to cure himself of this cursed affliction. And who can forget that haunting piano theme, that sad, lonely man theme? That was moving even to a 10-13 year old. And I was already familiar with Bill Bixby from even earlier from the show “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father”. I watched that as a wee lad. I had a rather significant connection to Bixby from those two shows. It’s funny how TV actors can make an impact on a child’s life. He was a comforting figure in my youth.
This version of “The Incredible Hulk” is one for the comic book nerds, and maybe more importantly, the Bixby/Ferrigno show nerds. Both of these actors get a little screen time here: Bill, via a clip of “Courtship”, and Lou as a security guard. For me, this was a joy of no small proportion. We even get a little of that haunting piano theme.
We also get more of the Hulk himself, I think. That leads me to the biggest bone from the first Hulk movie: everyone had a huge problem with the CG Hulk. I certainly don’t think this one is any real improvement. Dare I say it looks even a little more like CG animation? But then, I didn’t really think the CG was that bad in Ang Lee’s version. Call me crazy. Some people have. Only me and my psychiatrist know for sure. Haha! I don’t really have a psychiatrist! …Why are you looking at me like that?
The acting is good. I like Ed Norton. Liv Tyler is fine, as is William Hurt. Tim Roth gets to have a little fun as the soldier looking to be more than all he can be. Briefly, at the end, even Tony Stark gets an appearance to set up the obvious down-the-road Avengers movie. Marvel has big plans for us nerds. But aren’t you a little worried that the Thor movie is going to be REAL hard to keep from being silly?
There’s lots of Hulk smashing stuff, just like we want and would expect. I would say, however, the movie is a little too long. Maybe knock off 15 minutes in the middle, but it’s not unbearable. And I’d say the final sequence should satisfy those looking for a good brawl. “Hulk SMASH!”
This seems to be a nod mostly to the TV show. It connected me to this movie in a unique way. Maybe Marvel used nostalgia to get me to like this more than I should, but I just know I had fun for about two hours.
‘Til next time, this is Neil Weakley, your average movie goer (with a back pack, standing in the rain trying to hitch a ride to anywhere). (cue haunting piano theme)