Movie Review: The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Title: The Incredible Hulk
Release Date: June 13, 2008
Director: Louis Leterrier
Production Company: Marvel Studios

To prepare myself for Avengers: Endgame, I spent part of my April watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies I hadn’t seen yet.  It helped that some of them recently became available to stream without a premium charge.

The Incredible Hulk is tonally unlike most every other film in the ongoing series.  In retrospect, the MCU pretty much disowned it so not much introduced in this movie was followed up on. Edward Norton would be replaced by Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, and while Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America would all get trilogies of their own, the Hulk would only appear in ensemble films.  I would say both of these decisions paid off.

The movie condenses the whole origin story of the Hulk to a wordless sequence of images in the opening credits.  The story begins five years later with Bruce Banner hiding in Brazil and working in a bottling plant while sending computer messages to a mysterious Mr. Blue who may be able to cure him of his Hulk-ism.  Banner is discovered and it leads to a cat and mouse game of chases in Brazil and then back in the U.S.

The Hulk takes his time to appear on screen. In the first action setpiece, we get glimpses of the Hulk akin to a horror film like Alien.  The second action setpiece presents him more like King Kong.  By this time he’s reunited with Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), a scientist and love interest, who sadly doesn’t get much to do besides sterotypical women roles.  The final battle is set in New York City and brings a lot of collateral damage to Harlem, but somehow never gets mentioned in Luke Cage.

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are sometimes the heroes, sometimes cannon fodder, and sometimes comic relief.  Here they are the bad guys, relentlessly hunting Banner down to use the Hulk as a weapon.  They’re lead by the villainous Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt), who is one of the characters who’s gone on to appear in other MCU films, but I always forget about him.  Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) is an even more ridiculous over-the-top character, a Russian soldier who becomes addicted to supersoldier serum in order to become a killing machine.  His plot is pretty much copied in the Jessica Jones series with the character Wil Simpson.

Norton does a good job of displaying the fraility and anxiety of Banner, but the film doesn’t really give him the opportunity to explore relationships or emotions.  And there’s none of the humor we associate with Ruffalo’s Hulk, as this film is basically humorless.  I have only vague memories of the 1970s Hulk tv series, but as this movie reminds me of contemporary MCU tv series like Jessica Jones and Luke Cage (in both the good and bad senses), I wonder if Norton’s Hulk may have also worked out better as a television series.

Rating: **

Movie Review: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train (2004) #AtoZChallenge

This is my entry for “Y” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Previous “Y” documentaries I’ve reviewed include Yellowstone: The World’s First National Park.

Title: You Can’t Be Neutral ona Moving Train
Release Date: June 18, 2004
Director: Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller
Production Company: First Run Features

This biographical documentary covers the basic moments in the life of historian and activist Howard Zinn:

  • grew up in working class Brooklyn
  • first job at Brooklyn Navy Yard where he’s exposed to labor activists and socialists
  • enlists during WWII to fight facism
  • disturbed by being part of a napalm bomb attack on a German holdout in France that had no strategic importance, only a demonstration of the USA’s new weaponry
  • after the war becomes a professor at Spelman College
  • supports students active in Civil Rights protests and becomes and advisor for SNCC
  • after fired by Spelman, joins the faculty at Boston University
  • becomes a leader in the movement against the Vietnam War
  • publishes A People’s History of the United States to offer perspectives from oppressed people on the nation’s history
  • also focuses on his personal life including his long marriage with Roslyn Shechte

The film follows the typical format of interviews with Zinn and others like Alice Walker and Daniel Berrigan, mixed with archival photographs and video.  It’s a good introduction to Zin if you don’t have time to read his books.

What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary:

Even this is a movie about Howard Zinn, he has a way of redirecting the discussion to the front line activists in whatever cause it’s being discussed.  It’s a good lesson in using one’s talents and privileges to elevate others.

If You Like This You Might Also Want To …:

Read the autobiography this is based on, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train.  And read some Zinn classics like A People’s History of the United States and A People’s History of American Empire.

Source: Hoopla

Rating: ***

2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – Documentary Films

A: Amy
B: Being Elmo
C: Central Park Five
D: Dear Mr. Watterson
E: The Endless Summer
F: F for Fake
G: Grey Gardens
H: High School
I: Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice
J: Jiro Dreams of Sushi
K: Kon-Tiki
L: The Last Waltz
M: Man With a Movie Camera
N: Nanook of the North
O: Obit.
P: Pelotero
Q: Quest: A Portrait of an American Family
R: Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan
S: Soundtrack for a Revolution
T: Titicut Follies
U: Unforgivable Blackness
V: Virunga
W: Waking Sleeping Beauty
X: Xavier

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.

A Song and a Story: “You are Invited” #AtoZChallenge

Today’s song is by the Washington, DC band The Dismemberment Plan and it’s about a magical invitation that gets one into any event, but doesn’t necessarily bring happiness:

You are Invited

This story starts in fall of 1991, during my first weeks at the College of William & Mary.  Somehow I ended up going with a guy from my dorm to an off campus house where his friends lived.  Turns out the guys in the house were in a band, called Muchas Smooches.  Gen Xers may recognize the band’s name from Calvin & Hobbes when Hobbes accuses Calvin of having “Muchas smocches with Susie Derkin.”

Turns out that hanging out with a band at their off-campus house was NOT typical of my college experience after that, but I did see some of the band members around campus from time to time.  One of them, Travis, was the host of the popular Quiz Kid show on our college radio station that for one semester was the lead-in to my not-so-popular late night world music show.

Fast forward to the early 2000s and by some means I no longer recall, I became aware of the band The Dismemberment Plan and their legendary album Emergency & I.  I put two & two together and discovered that the Travis I sort of knew at college was in this great band.  I don’t often get to do the hipster thing, but I guess in this case, I can say “yeah, I remember him back when he was in Muchas Smooches.”

2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – A Song and a Story

A: Always on My Mind
B: Baby Come Back and Baker Street
C: Cheek to Cheek
D: Don’t Worry, Be Happy and Doctor Jones
E: Everyday Sunshine
F: Fly Me to the Moon
G: Ghost Town
H: Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe
I: If I Were John Carpenter
J: Jungle Strut and Justified & Ancient
K: Kiss
L: Loaded
M: Marble Halls and My Moon, My Man
N: New York, New York
O: Oliver’s Army
P: The Parting Glass
Q: Qué Onda Guero
R: Rave On
S: The Servant Song
T: Thing of Beauty
U: Unworthy
V: The Voyage
W: Working My Way Back to You Babe and Walk of Life
X: 1999 and Ol’ 55

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.