Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hulk Review

This reboot of the Hulk gets two stars. Though I did not see either of the two films in the previous Hulk series directed by Ang Lee, I would like to see it now. The reason being, while watching this Hulk a man sitting one seat over from me leaned over with excitement remarking, "This has way more action than the last one." As I just stated, I have not seen Ang Lee's Hulk, but this film did have lots of action. There were three battles between the Hulk and the U.S. Military. The first two were well filmed, and somewhat believable. Except the first one had special operations soldiers perusing the streets of Rio, Brazil looking for the Hulk like police officers. However, the lead up to the chase was well filmed. The third battle, however, was a ridiculous and generic street fight in Harlem between the Hulk and the Abomination. I realize this was added to the movie to show Emile Blonsky (Tim Roth's) increasing desire for power and destruction, but there are innovative ways to show this. Unfortunately, this was all there really was to the movie. Just action sequence building up to the next action sequence. After reading Ebert's review of the film he explained that Ang Lee's Hulk had more dialog that explored the themes of the character. As I have stated in previous posts the themes surrounding a super hero character are the essence of the story. As I see it theme is always necessary in a story. It constitutes the story's purpose. However, it is even more important with super heroes. Batman is distinctly different from Superman; Iron Man is distinctly different from the Hulk. Films and comics are meant to explore these differences. For example, when I reviewed Iron Man I explained that the main theme was that humans do not need natural genetic abilities to be super. One does not need to mutate or be born to have super abilities. Man has the knowledge and skill to create himself as a superhero. Hence the excellent tag line for the movie, "Heroes aren't born. They're made."

The Hulk, obviously, explores different themes. The most important is man's reliance on violence and aggression to be happy, and that animal violence is present in each human. The gamma ray that makes the Hulk actually does not make the Hulk, it is supposed to release the Hulk inside Bruce Banner (Edward Norton.) This is somewhat touched upon in the film by Blonsky, the meanest Marine questing for more physical strength only to cause more destruction. However, his altercation with a scientist Samuel Sterns, who has been using Banner's blood to find a cure and improve the human body at the same time, makes it appear that any genetic manipulation of the human body is vicious. One must, of course, analyze the reasons as to why one wants to mutate the human body. A few moments before Blonsky arrives Stern explains to Banner that he is trying to improve the human body with Banner's blood so that humans are impervious to disease. This is virtuous. It shows that man controls his environment and his surroundings, and he can genetically improve himself to better his life. However, when Blonsky arrives Sterns is willing to inject him with Hulk blood. The Sterns character of a few moments ago would not have done this. The sterns character of a few moments ago would not want people to use these improvements for initiating violence. However, by combining the two conflicting positions into one character the movie indicates that both positions are vicious.

One of the other themes surrounding the Hulk that is touched upon in the film is that the Hulk is a symbol of free thinking. Originally, Banner was conducting research for the military so that Hulks could be used in battle. However, once Banner finds this out he refuses to assist the military and tries to keep the Hulk data and his self from them before he can cure it. Now, having a new weapon for the military is not necessarily vicious, as long as the military is using it for defensive purposes. However, General Ross (William Hurt) does not appear to be this type of military officer. He seems to be more concerned with initiating force, but it would have been better to make this clearer in the film.

This then leads into one final aspect that I liked. Blonsky develops into the Abomination because of the military, while the Hulk develops from personal research. Though the Hulk is not analyzed sufficiently to show he is a symbol of defense force and free thinking, while also questioning a love of violence and power inherent in some men, Blonsky's role is excellently analyzed. Not only is Blonsky constantly searching for the next big fight and more strength to cause more destruction in that fight, he gets all of his assistance from the military. Therefore, there is an interesting twist in the end of the film when Blonsky goes rouge and the military turns to Banner for help. Banner who has been running from military aggression for the past several years, assists the military to subdue an aggressor. This is the one point I would have to disagree with Ebert on. He stated that in Iron Man the villain and superhero both knew who they were and why they were fighting. I remain convinced that the Iron Monger character was vastly underdeveloped. In The Incredible Hulk the opposite is present. The Abomination is well developed, while a little foundation exists for the Hulk asking for a little more thematic dialog.

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