The Incredible Hulk ★★½

[43]

Things were surprisingly okay for almost thirty minutes—up to and including Bruce’s first anger-driven transformation—despite the eminently head-scratching casting. (Norton doesn’t seem very… Hulk-y, but maybe that’s kind of the point? And I’m not sure why you’d ever put Liv Tyler in your film unless you were purposely making an emotionless dust bowl à la Robert Bresson: Obviously not the case, here.) And I still find it difficult to ignore all the R.D.S.* as applicable to narrative inertia e.g. the incident in the bottling plant, as though Bruce could ever be so adamant about retrieving his two milliliters of blood that he’d somehow overlook the huge smear on a single bottle literally feet away from his face. But whatever. I’ll live with stuff like that, I guess. Hulk’s initial appearance had me excited that Leterrier would take the classic JAWS approach (i.e., less is more, with respect to the beast’s visible screen time); however, subsequent appearances get longer and less clandestine, only showcasing the great strides we’ve made over the last ten years w.r.t. computer generated graphics. I imagine that seeing this in 2008 is and was significantly different than seeing this in 2019, to no immediately fault of the film itself (again, that’s why movies like JAWS and ALIEN worked so well despite being much older: Spielberg and Ridley knew their limitations and worked with them, instead of around them), but even had I seen this in college upon its initial release, I’d likely have been bored with the film’s last half-hour, which is nothing more than a cheesy, over-extended Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots “fight” with occasional interruptions from the US military, who may as well have been using spitballs against the two creatures in question. Either way, I seem to enjoy the parts of the picture with “Bruce” vs. those with “The Hulk,” dated CGI notwithstanding, because there’s a modicum of interest there: A man who’s been used by his own government, incapable of controlling his anger, excitement, and fear, constantly forced to live with the consequences of his largely uncontrollable actions. But anytime he actually, you know, transforms, the movie turns into a mindless let’s-see-how-much-shit-we-can-destroy extravaganza. I’ll pass. (Also Liv Tyler sux.)

*really dumb shit

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