2012 Film Challenge #36 - The Incredible Hulk

One of my favourite games to play is called “Let's Face It”.

All you have to do is take it in turns to face things.

The game's a close cousin to the likes of “The Thing Is” and, of course, “I'll Tell You Why You're Wrong”. Indeed, many a good rally has been established through switching from one strategy to the next as the discourse demands!

Seeing as any situation can be improved immeasurably by a round of “Let's Face It”, how about a quick game now?

I'll start.

Let's face it: 2003's Hulk really wasn't very good. Nothing at all seems to happen for at least forty minutes, and when things finally get going, they're blighted by the fact that time has not been very kind to the computer-realised rampages. After only nine years, they look weightless, flimsy and really quite terrible.

Now, I'm a huge champion of substance over style. I can forgive terrible visuals if they're an intrinsic part of something gripping. But the 2003 Hulk had all the cold, clinical heartlessness of a JG Ballard novel with precisely none of the intrigue which make his inhuman stories so engaging and enduring.

But that was the origin story. This, The Incredible Hulk, more a reboot than a sequel, doesn't attempt to blind the audience with science, as the gamma ray disaster has already been endured. Instead, it focuses upon Banner's attempts to rid himself of his beastly burden. And Edward Norton's in it. I always like to see him.

Things Happen and the stage is ultimately set for a showdown between a good green Hulk and an evil Abomination. When it came apparent that these two unstoppable forces would be going head-to-head, I must admit to feeling a deep-seated sense of anticipation. I think they call it “excitement”. I was “excited” to see what would happen and who would win.

This showdown delivered. It saw Hulk using police cars as boxing gloves, repelling an explosive shockwave with a clap of his hands and even uttering his famous catchphrase. Hulk smashed in this one, and that was just one of many moments which was, I'm sure, inserted in order to five The Fans what they wanted.

Ho, to have been in a cinema packed with Hulk fans watching with fresh eyes at that moment. It would, indeed, have been a “moment”.

But look at this. I'm championing the action-packed sequel in preference to the cerebral, glacial original.

Indeed, the final minute of this one implied that the whole thing was just one big old $150million set-up to this year's Avengers Assemble.

And yes, that final minute sent the old shivers down the spine. And yes, I simply cannot wait to see The Avengers. I've received two compliments from complete strangers today just because I'm wearing a Thor t-shirt. This feels like it could be the sort of film that doesn't so much define a generation as dominate it. The sort of film that, despite sating the immediate need to see things explode, will still be picked apart and over analysed for decades to come.

I don't know. Superhero films are weird. They can't win. They can go for wall-to-wall thrills and people will label them as dumbed-down junk food. But when they go for the deep, measured pace, even the sort of people who usually insist that their films come with enough gravity to have their own orbit (that's me!) will speak-ill of them.

And then there's The Question Of The Geek. Do you try and satisfy their every demand, or do you instead attempt to successfully realise the material in your chosen medium?

Either way, you're going to piss someone off.

Games like “Let's Face It” and “I'll Tell You Why You're Wrong” were perhaps originally invented to lubricate the discourses of geeks.

And films like The Incredible Hulk provide the ammunition.

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