Thursday, May 10, 2012

REVIEW: Hulk (2003)

Well, with The Avengers finally out and winning worldwide acclaim, it looks like superhero films have finally hit their stride and become worth talking about again – it’s been a long time coming with a lot of steep roads, but finally we have some viable superhero flicks to lead the genre and prove that it isn’t a big half-assed joke just made to cash in on the comic books. Indeed, we certainly have come a long way since movies like the 2003 Hulk film with Eric Bana, a movie so lame and so boring that it feels like you yourself are getting a radioactive zap straight to the brain. And yes, I did just use a joke that bad. I should be ashamed, but then again, I’m still better than the people who made THIS.

Director: Ang Lee
Starring: Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott

I mean MAN this is a dull, plodding, hackneyed piece of nothing. Who knew you could make The Hulk so boring? It’s got all the elements you’d expect a Hulk film to have, but they’re done incredibly poorly, and mostly it will just put you to sleep. Eh. Let’s…try and get it over with, I guess…

We start off with a guy named David Banner doing illegal experiments without the government’s permission like experimenting on his own son – what a douchebag. He gets sacked rightfully, as what he’s doing is highly illegal. He starts to freak out and break shit and then immediately runs home to kill his son; what a champion father. We don’t exactly see what happens next, because the movie is as incoherent as your average meth addict, and just fades into another scene with main character Bruce Banner as a teenager about to go off to college and leave Woody, Buzz and all the other toys behind for the last time:

Maybe I got the wrong movie franchise...

Okay, seriously, what’s up with the flashbacks? Does this director just not think we’ll be able to understand The Hulk’s plot without showing us Bruce Banner’s past? And for that matter, why change the story like this? Bruce Banner was a normal guy who got caught up in radiation and became a big green monster. THAT’S IT. What is all this nonsense about his father conducting secret experiments on him and trying to kill him as a little kid? It’s just needlessly complex and dark.

So we finally get to the present day as we see Bruce Banner played by Eric Bana and his ex-girlfriend Betty, played by Jennifer Connelly, neither one of whom ever seems to give a shit about any of their lines throughout this thing. I’m serious, you could get cardboard cutouts to play these characters and you’d have the same level of emotional attachment. These two are ex boyfriend and girlfriend and it seems like this is supposed to be a point of contention between them, but the way Bana and Connelly act, it’s just a minor inconvenience to laugh about. So glad THAT riveting emotional character development was avoided!

They mosey around for a while exchanging some nonsensical dialogue and the scenes are transitioned horribly through schizophrenic drug induced hallucinations that look like stuff you’d see in a 1995 computer game. The whole thing is just too cluttered and claustrophobic, with short scenes broken up by tons of bright, flashy colors enough to give small Japanese children seizures. How am I supposed to be invested in this? It’s practically the cinematic equivalent of a hyperactive little girl on too much sugar!

So Banner and Betty do some more experiments until their dumbass friend accidentally breaks the machine and gets Banner infected with the radiation. It should kill him, but instead, mysteriously, he’s OK, and even better than before. He then gets visited by a creepy old Unabomber impersonator, his own crazy father who escaped from a mental ward and disguised himself as the janitor of the building, played by veteran actor Nick Nolte. How did they get him to do this? Well, I imagine a lot of horrible, horrible blackmail was involved. And what’s up with the three random dogs he has with him all the time? Is this supposed to be taken seriously?

The true picture of villainy; a crazy homeless man from your local subway with a bunch of weird dogs around him for no reason.

Nolte hams it up in front of the camera as he’s going to do for the entire movie – this guy is seriously just terrible here, and it’s baffling because I know he can do good in other movies. What happened, was he just told to act as poorly as possible? I also love how he tries to get all self righteous and finger-pointing at Banner for not being a good scientist or whatever when HE was arrested for malpractice and experimenting on humans and then put into a mental ward. Not exactly in the position to chastise others, are you pal?

And what is also so strange about this is…HOW THE HELL DID HE GET HIRED BY A GOVERNMENT-FUNDED SCIENTIFIC BUILDING? He has a criminal history! Do they just not do any background checks on their employees? “Hey, I know this guy was arrested thirty years ago for doing illegal experiments and has been in a mental ward ever since, but I really think he’s perfect for our scientist building as a janitor! NOTHING BAD could possibly result from this!” USE YOUR BRAINS YOU MONGOLOIDS.

Banner turns into the Hulk and destroys the lab, causing everything to get shut down by the government and Banner to be arrested the next morning. Betty’s father the military general (Sam Elliott) comes in and arrests Banner despite Betty’s pleas otherwise – he’s ONLY a danger to all mankind as long as he’s free, after all! Why do some parents have to be so inconsiderate?

That night we see David Banner’s most diabolical plot yet…three rabid super-dogs, one of which is a French poodle. I swear I am not making that up:

Reminds me of The Breed...
Or, no, wait. It's like Cujo II:  Who Let the Dogs Out! There we go!

I…can’t tell if this is stupid or genius. But we get a pretty decent action scene I guess, remarkable enough for the fact that it involves a demonic French poodle, but decent enough otherwise, too. Then they go back and we find out that Betty really wasn’t so loyal after all, as despite the fact that Banner helped her, she tranquilizes him and lets the military take him. What a whore.

They take him to some compound where of course they NEVER do anything stupid like…just letting him walk around all he wants with his ex girlfriend with no guards or protection, thus putting everyone in danger…oh wait, they DO do that. What a bunch of morons! But at least they’re prepared for a Hulk break-out in case they do some experiments on him underwater and he gets angry and breaks out…oh, wait, they’re NOT prepared at all, and have to run around like their heads are up their asses just to make sure he doesn’t kill them.

Aren't you glad the US is paying taxes in this world to fund idiotic experiments like this, which could have literally been orchestrated better by a five year old? How is it THIS HARD to NOT waste valuable resources? If you want to make The Hulk come out, how about actually getting prepared for it, and setting up damage-proof settings where he won't destroy anything? But I guess that would make too much sense. Instead these guys just love to run around like turkeys with their heads cut off while The Hulk demolishes all their hard work. But hey, whatever works, ya know?!

Is anything these guys do sensible or smart AT ALL? I’ll just spoil that for you and say no, no it isn’t.

So the Hulk breaks out of the compound and goes on a rampage all around the desert and even through the Grand Canyon. And okay, even I have to admit, this is the only good part of the movie, with some excellent scenery and even some decent action for once. Seeing the Hulk jump around the Grand Canyon is pretty awesome.

But the movie RUINS it soon after by having David Banner, Bruce’s father and now a crazy Unabomber wannabe, talk to Betty alone and try to get her to let him talk to Bruce again, even offering to turn himself in. Now, in any rational universe, the military’s response would be “No, you crazy freak, we’re just arresting you and putting you back in that mental institution for the rest of your life.” However, in THIS MOVIE, the military just goes along with his demands and agrees to them!



ARE THEY OUT OF THEIR MINDS? What kind of military is this? They ACTUALLY let him see his son after everything he’s done? I mean, he’s only an escaped mental patient locked up for doing dangerous experiments on human beings. It’s not like he’s, oh I don’t know, CRAZY or anything, right? This makes no sense! What kind of military organization would ever negotiate with a hostage like this? What do they gain? Brownie points for reuniting a son and his father, even though the father is a known lunatic and could do anything to activate his son’s Hulk persona and sabotage everything the military themselves is working for? Are they just TRYING to screw up as much as possible? Is that the experiment they're doing; how to royally mess up everything as much as possible? I’m sorry, I don’t get it, and this movie has officially crossed the line into complete WTF territory, never to return. Movie, YOU NEED HELP.

So anyway, now we have a second climax which involves David Banner biting on a big electric wire and turning into, well, what looks like a big pile of Transformer droppings:

Noogie noogie noogie!

They fight some more and David turns into…oh, do you even care anymore?

I really don't, so I'm not going to bother explaining this part.

Then the military bombs them and leaves them for dead without even checking to SEE if they’re dead or not – have I mentioned I’m not exactly enthralled with the way the military acts in this movie? – and we’re done, right? No? There’s still another ’1 year later’ epilogue scene? Oh come on, JUST END ALREADY, you big pile of green garbage!

Sigh. So apparently a year later, Jennifer Connelly still can’t act, as when she says she still loves Bruce, she sounds like she’s just saying she lost her shoes or something – don’t get TOO emotional there honey; don’t want to actually make us give a shit there or something! And we see Bruce himself in the jungle with some native tribe, getting robbed by some thieves. He glares at them and says, in a foreign language, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

So, just to recap that, the signature line of the Hulk series is only uttered in a foreign language at the very end of the movie – it’s not THAT BIG of a deal or anything, but it just points out how much this movie utterly fails.

And fail it does! This was crap. Aside from the awful special effects, acting and storyline, it was just so cluttered with nonsensical transitions and too many plotlines for what should have been a relatively simple movie. I didn’t really get a chance to mention it in the review, but this movie is also really, really friggin’ pretentious and ponderous, with far too many faux-philosophical ramblings from Nick Nolte’s character that just get on my nerves with how self-indulgent they are. For psychological superhero movies, The Dark Knight was still a long ways off.

So yeah, this sucks. Go see the 2008 one instead. It isn’t anything amazing, but it’s at least a real movie, unlike this haphazard collection of psychedelic music video images and pretentious college-student speeches. And I think that’s a big plus!

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