The Hulk: Incredible?

Just saw The Incredible Hulk for free due to the generosity of a friend of a friend (that’s FOAF for short, no joke). Interesting movie, better than it might have been, yet not exactly a great feat of cinema. Here are some observations:

  • I guess it’s the linguist in me, but I really enjoyed watching Bruce Banner navigate through Brazil, Guatemala, and Mexico. My portuguese is pretty bad, though 🙁
  • Another super-hero in New York City? Well, maybe that’s just a tradition of superherodom. That other Bruce, Bruce Wayne, managed to live elsewhere and still find plenty to do, but then again, he didn’t need any super powers either.
  • I genuinely liked the main character and admired his efforts to keep from turning into a monster. The echoes of Jekyll and Hyde are pretty obvious, but I related to the guy on a different level: his struggles reminded me of the incredible disruptions that have come into my life as a result of panic and anxiety attacks. You do what you can to try to avoid an “episode,” but sometimes there is no avoiding it. Then, once it passes, you’re left in somewhat of a shambles. So it was with Mr. Banner.
  • The movie had tons of product placement, which was sort of annoying. Films that do that in intrusive ways make me wonder why the creators of the movie are hedging their bets against its financial success at the ticket office.
  • The Incredible Hulk sadly resorts to some pretty stale clichés, e.g. the unorthodox branch of the military doing twisted experiments on people; the obsessed commando villain who will stop at nothing; the mad scientist. If I was a military man I’d probably be insulted by the portrayal of the armed forces as having absolutely no limits, no rules of engagement, but a commander who looks suspiciously like Josef Stalin and who is called “The General” ordering people via radio to pump the green beast full of lead. And like a university would just roll over and let the unprincipled nasty army dudes hold a super-powered firefight on their campus. The only time I know of that the military goes in force to schools is when they’re escorting black children into newly desegregated schools in Alabama, and that’s only when the president orders them to. (By the way, I feel quite similarly about the treatment of the military in Transformers. I have all the healthy suspicion of military power that any citizen of a republic should, but come on, give the guys some credit for professionalism.)
  • I liked the bribery-by-pizza. How could the guard have resisted?
  • Oh, awkward stuff like “The General” being Dr. Ross’s dad drives me crazy. Is that what soap operas are like?
  • I enjoyed the surprisingly artistic contrast between the big, explosive battle scenes about Bruce Banner the Hulk, and the subtle, even tender personal scenes about Bruce Banner the man. Nice job.

So, to conclude I say it was an interesting film set in interesting locales that explored some interesting ideas about human nature from a unique angle, yet it was hamstrung by some clumsy writing. It’s probably worth a dollar at the dollar theater. Better yet, it’s definitely worth zero dollars at the dollar theater. Thanks my FOAF benefactor!
– Josh






One response to “The Hulk: Incredible?”

  1. The Shark Avatar

    You need to see my review of the movie:

    I was also going to respond to the response you gave me to the comment I made earlier about you changing your blog. I think you said I changed my website — not so. I still own and operate I also happen to have my personal blog that I try to use as a smaller-scale creative outlet (, as well as my blog that promotes comics as a valid art form (rather than just a form of commercialism): …

    The blog listed above with my Hulk review is a friend’s blog. He invites me to write movie reviews now and again.

    I think your review of “Incredible Hulk” is a little harsh considering the source material. You have to bear in mind that they’re working with a product of late 50s/early 60s views on science and fantasy. With the Cold War and other international military threats running rampant, themes of science as an instrument of evil and military being an out-of-control superpower appealed to pop culture studies of that era — it reflects the views of 60s-contemporary society. Certainly this film should be viewed in a modern context, but completely detaching it from its roots is to be untrue to what the Hulk essentially is: social commentary in commercialized/popular form.

    I love the embodiment of Jekyll/Hyde, Frankenstein’s monster, and “Beauty and the Beast” in this character. Hulk represents the worst in all of us, and Banner represents the humanity in us that can — nay, MUST — find a way to tame and control the passions and lusts within.

    I agree that this film wasn’t relatively amazing, but I DO think it’s worth much more than a buck and deserves more attention than it’s received. Plus, with the whole cinematic “Avengers” mythos that they are trying to establish in films, I’d say it’s important to view this film if you are planning on seeing the “Avengers” film in 2011. It’s going to be an important piece of the bigger puzzle.

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