The Incredible Hulk (2008) mini review

based on a comic book


It's incredible how they can turning something around.  (Ha! Get it? Incredible? Sorry.)  I saw The Incredible Hulk last weekend and was really impressed.  Particularly after the disappointment of Ang Lee's Hulk. Actually, I'm trying to decide if this movie was better than Iron Man. The interesting thing about the Hulk is that he is as ingrained in the public consciousness as Batman, Superman, or Spider-Man. Everyone knows that some guy named Banner was in some sort of accident, and now every time he gets angry he turns into a large, green, incredible hulk.  And this second attempt at a Hulk origin story capitalizes on that. The origin is squeezed nicely into the opening credits, and it works.  Sure, if you've got a background in the comics, you'll follow it a lot easier, but it's not necessary.  It's brilliant, really - smashing the origin story that usually takes a superhero film a half an hour to tell into just a few minutes - and in this case, the film is better for it.

The film itself was enjoyable - actually owing almost as much to the classic 70s TV series as to the comic book.  If you haven't seen it, I won't ruin it for you, but it does a great job being based on the comic, but still borrowing from the show. And whenever you go into something heavy CGI, you worry that the human element is taken out.  But that's the beauty of what Marvel has done with a lot of its heroes - made them so human.  And Marvel (this is the second Marvel Studios film, after Iron Man) accomplishes this in amazing ways with The Incredible Hulk. This character is more human and relatable than any superhero I've seen in a long time.  He's not a billionaire playboy, an alien, a demon, or a billionaire tech genius.  Twenty years ago, I might have identified with Spider-Man a bit more, but I'm not that young anymore. This man trying to overcome his inner demon was more real to me than a lot of characters in movies that don't have the fantastic elements that are the stuff of comic books.  The way Ed Norton (Bruce Banner) and Liv Tyler (Betty Ross) portray their characters, they seem so real. I think this is why I thought it was better than Iron Man.

Of course, Norton and Tyler are joined by the likes of William Hurt (A History of Violence) playing General "Thunderbolt" Ross, Tim Roth (Emil Blonsky), and Tim Blake Nelson (Dr. Samuel Stern).  Although the Hulk was my favorite superhero as a child, while I watched the film, I didn't know enough to link all the characters with their comic book cohorts.  I knew enough to recognize the Abomination in the previews, but after seeing the movie, and doing a bit of research, I was surprised at how well they kept true to his role in the Hulk's life.  And during the movie, I wondered about some foreshadowing they did with Dr. Stern - and a quick Google search on his name proved my suspicions right. 

Some trivia: Peter Mensah (General Joe Gellar) also played the messenger in 300. ("This is madness!")  Also, Greg Bryk, who played one of the commandos, will be in the XIII mini-series.

See it if you like action, but you still like your superheroes embued with a bit of humanity.

Don't see it if you don't like all the CGI...but keep in mind, this superhero's more real than the ones that don't rely on computer graphics.


I Wanted to See Wanted

Good grief - can't a guy get a break? So many comic book movies, so little time...

It looks like I'm not going to have a chance to see Wanted this weekend. Now I'm going to have to double it up with another superhero or comic book film. Like Hancock next weekend. Or Hellboy the week after that. Or Batman the week after that. Then we get a 2-month break until Whiteout in September (doesn't that film have a website, yet?).

I can't wait for DVD...(as bad as I wanted to see Get Smart, my comic book films get priority).


The Incredible Hulk

I think Hulk may have been better than Iron Man. Saw previews for Dark Knight, Hellboy II, Wanted, and Hancock. It's going to be a great summer!


Iron Man (2008) mini review

based on a comic book

Well, now that The Incredible Hulk opened this weekend, I should try to post this review I've been trying to get out for a month. By now, most of us know the basic plot to Iron Man. A harrowing experience turns Tony Stark from weapons designer to hero - he uses his technological genius to create Iron Man.

Any movie that starts with great music (AC/DC's Back in Black) and ends in equally good music is going to get extra points, even if the middle isn't great. I said I was going to be disappointed if Sabbath's Iron Man didn't find its way into the movie and only showed up during the end credits - and, well, I really wasn't disappointed. The special effects are seamless - you will believe a man can fly. (OK, I just did a Google blog search, and I'm about the 32nd person to use that in relation to this movie, but I still like it.)

Marvel continues to do it better, and this movie was pretty amazing. Robert Downey, Jr. is the perfect Tony Stark; Gwyneth Paltrow is his assistant Pepper Pots, Jeff Bridges is wonderful as his corporate rival. Every character in the film is completely believable. Clark Gregg's jump from The Adventures of New Christine to a serious government agent takes some getting use to (if you watch the TV show), but that's about it. All around there's nothing to complain about. It's an excellent film. Jon Favreau takes the leap to directing a superhero film and does it with aplomb. There's a little suspension of disbelief, but in anything superhero-related is going to have that. There's comic relief without being cheesy, and romance without detracting from the story. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. There's even a nod to the Silver Age Iron Man. Plus great foreshadowing for the next film. And what's not to love about that surprise ending? (I won't fall in line behind every other web site that spoils it in case you haven't seen it - suffice it to say, if you haven't seen it yet, stay through the end credits.)

Other actors include Leslie Bibb (Wristcutters: A Love Story) as the Vanity Fair reporter, Shaun Tobb (Lois & Clark) as Stark's helper Yinsen, Bill Smitrovich (The Phantom, Batman Beyond, the 90's animated Fantastic Four), and Tim Guinee (Blade, Smallville).

And with Marvel's recent announcements, there's lots to look forward, too. Iron Man 2 and Thor come out in 2010, and Captain America comes out in 2011.

See it if you like films with lots of action that keep you on the edge of your seat - whether you're into the superhero aspect or not.

Don't see it if...crap, if you read a superhero and comic blog, I can't think of any reason why you shouldn't see it.


How to Be a Superhero (Dr. Metropolis, 2005)

Reading How to Be a Superhero, I almost wish I didn't work for a company that followed strict OSHA standards. As the pentultimate "how-to" guide, How to Be a Superhero could walk me through the basics of becoming a superhero should I be bathed in toxic waste or exposed to massive amounts of radiation.

HTBASH (written by Dr. Metropolis) is a wealth of knowledge leading novice and would-be superheroes onto the path of becoming a righteous do-gooder. It starts out by helping you identify what type of superhero you are based on the powers you have. It goes on to assist new heroes with those things that are important and necessary, but are often rushed in trying out new powers. For example, the discussion of the UPS is invaluable. Your UPS is your Unique Personal Style - for a superhero, what makes you, you. It has 3 components - your name, costume, and origin story. No superhero is complete without spending valuable time putting these things together. How many superheroes throw together a costume, jot down a name and run out to fight crime, without spending time coming up with the proper superhero name, or picking out costume colors that best complement their skin tones? Using Dr. Metropolis's name generator, I've already determined that I would be called Cosmic Beast, Fearless Avenger of Virtue. Or should it be The Cosmic Beast? I haven't quite come to a conclusion on that one, yet.

Several other tests and indicators walk you through the basics. This book is a wealth of amazing tools no superhero (or potential superhero) should be without. From finding the right arch-nemesis for you to finding the right fit in a superhero team, HTBASH contains an incredible amount of valuable information.

And realizing the importance of diversity, Dr. Metropolis even finishes out with a bonus chapter for those who might be concerned that they might play for the other team. This section can help the potential super-villain with the lifestyle choices they may be facing.

In the interest of raising awareness of this important book, I've taken the liberty (hmmm...maybe that should be Cosmic Beast, Fearless Avenger of Liberty) of putting together a video to get the word out.


Comic Books Unbound and Unrealized

What's up with all this stuff on cable I can't see?

In an hour (9 Central, 10 Eastern), Starz, which I don't get, is showing Comic Books Unbound, which I won't be able to watch. Anyone taping it? Does anyone have VCRs anymore?

Also, Cracked recently had a contest to create posters for superhero movies we hope don't get made. Some of them are pretty funny - take a look.

I'm way backed up - on my Previews posts, my Iron Man review. And The Incredible Hulk comes out this Friday.

Good grief.

(Thanks to Pop Candy for the news.)


Swamped Thing

Things have just been crazy, and I haven't been able to spend any time writing lately. Anyway, here are some tidbits that have dropped from the sky that I'm finally updating this blog with. (Actually it hasn't been much).

I can finally add Whiteout to the upcoming film listing since it has a release date (September 19th - maybe).

And here's a preview for the ABC family series Middleman (don't forget to set your DVRs for June 16).

Comics2Film also has some interesting background on how the comic was intended as a TV series before it was a comic.

And finally, MSN has an article - Super Fashionable - about superhero style. Though I don't agree with their assessment of Wolverine and the yellow spandex.

Thanks to Comics2Film.