Hulk (2003)


We’re Going to Have to Watch That Temper of Yours

I’m pretty sure that this movie ties up my series preparing for the release of the Avengers movie, but I did not endeavor to save the best for last.  Today’s movie was despised by nerds, but you didn’t come here for the opinion of nerds.  You came for the opinion of only one nerd.  I had not watched today’s movie since when I had seen it in theaters, and I really only remember that I liked the second movie much better, and that we did not see the titular character until about 50 minutes into the movie.  That is not a good sign.  Let’s see what I thought of Hulk, written by Michael France, John Turman, and James Schamus, directed by Ang Lee, and starring Eric Bana, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliott, Jennifer Connelly, Josh Lucas, Cara Buono, Celia Weston, Johnny Kastl, Lou Ferrigno, and Stan Lee.

David Banner is a geneticist and a douche bag.  He’s a geneticist because he’s doing experiments to take special qualities from animals and mix it with human DNA.  He’s a douche bag because he tries it on himself and passes it down to his son.  When his boss, Lieutenant Colonel “Thunderbolt” Ross, finds out, he shuts down his research.  David overreacts a little bit and sets off a giant explosion in their gamma reactor, drives home, and stabs his wife in the chest.  He’s put in the looney bin and his son, Bruce (Eric Bana), is raised by foster mom (Celia Weston) until he becomes a successful bionuclear researcher.  Things get a little crazy for him at the facility when the military-industrial complex representative, Major Talbot (Josh Lucas), starts wanting to get their research, and the janitor turns out to be a much more grizzled version of his father (Nick Nolte).  It’s also not that easy working with his ex-girlfriend, Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly), daughter of now-General “Thunderbolt” Ross (Sam Elliott).  And things just get worse when he steps in front of a gamma blast to save his friend after a lab accident and he starts turning into a big, green thing when angry.

There were some things about this movie that worked, but the greater majority of them did not.  One big issue is not so much the story, but certainly the writing.  The biggest issue I had with the movie when I saw it in theaters carried over to irritate me again.  The Hulk is not shown until 42 minutes into the movie.  This movie is about him, or at least that’s what I was lead to believe by the title.  It’s supposed to be about a big, green thing smashing things that made it angry.  Instead, we watched a movie mainly about David Banner and the effects he had on other people.  But don’t worry.  If you came for lots of smashing you’ll get lots and lots of … people doing scientific experiments.  When the Hulk finally shows up, he just makes a mess of a laboratory and leaves.  Then you have another 20 minutes until you see him again.  This time, he actually decides to smash something.  That something is three ridiculous looking mutated dogs.  There are many things I want to see when the Hulk smashes giant mutant dogs.  I would be happy with blood, guts, bile, and any number of bodily fluids.  I would even be content with you just doing it off camera to keep the movie PG.  What I’m not too keen on is them just exploding into green pixie dust.  It was kind of cool that he broke one of the dog’s jaws by flexing until it dislocated.  You’re not really going to get any kind of real satisfaction from the Hulk until he starts fighting the military.  That bit of action was fairly well done, but also about two hours in.  I’m not happy that the Hulk is somehow concerned about making sure that a jet doesn’t crash into the Golden Gate Bridge after it had just been attacking him.  I understand that parts of Banner are still in the Hulk, but the Hulk should be thinking, “Fuck that guy.”  I guess the Hulk wouldn’t say that … just like he wouldn’t say, “Puny human,” because the Hulk himself is (in a way) human.  The Hulk says, “Puny Banner,” when he comes out of a mirror in a dream sequence and chokes Banner.  And then we get to the ending, causing me to throw up some ::SPOILER ALERT::  David Banner has done an experiment on himself to give himself powers, making him able to absorb energies.  He turns into a giant electrical thing to fight the Hulk and try to absorb his energy.  The Hulk responds with a line that they stole from Jiz Soaked Jezebels 14 and says, “Take it all!”  He then somehow releases a bunch of energy jiz into him which inexplicably makes a giant bubble of water out of the lake they were in that then explodes into green pixie dust.  Fuck that ending in the butt.  ::END SPOILERS::

The biggest problem with this movie is that it was WAY over-directed and poorly planned.  Ang Lee got obsessed with the artist direction of this movie, making it look like a comic book with interesting transitions, multiple panels on screen, and various camera angles happening at the same time.  It was a very interesting art project, but a super boring movie that needed to remember that it was about the Hulk.  It all has a good look to it, but at a certain point I started thinking, “Would you just knock it off and play the movie already?”  The BluRay of the movie did make it extra beautiful to look at.  In a lot of the opening, they decide that the audience needs some random close-ups of algae and trees.  It looked so good in HD that it made me wish I was just watching one of those Planet Earth movies instead of someone inexplicably putting these things into a Hulk movie.  We know that this character came from comic books, but we’re not reading the comic books.  We’re watching a movie, so just make a movie and not a hybrid of the two.  The CG characters (like the Hulk and the dogs) look good sometimes, but also occasionally don’t appear to be part of the scene.  And when Talbot’s character has something explode behind him and Ang decided he would do a freeze frame of him a-la Charlie’s Angels, that was just stupid.

Sometimes, when I see the cast they’ve attained for a comic book movie, I get really disappointed.  Other times – as with this movie, the X-Men movies, and the new Batman movies – I get excited that they actually got some good actors to elevate this comic book movie past it’s station.  I was about half right with this movie.  I was excited that Eric Bana was in the movie because his last name is so close to the character he’s portraying, which means he’ll definitely do a good job at it.  He did a good job throughout the movie but one scene was just bad.  It was when he had just beat up the green pixie-dogs, turns back into Banner, has a little anger freak out, and starts choking Betty for no reason whatsoever.  Jennifer Connelly was great and very real all the way through, but I can’t really look at her anymore without seeing some old guy saying, “Ass to ass.”  Nick Nolte did a decent enough job … until the end of the movie when he and Bruce are having a conversation and Nolte does a little mock pout thing.  That was funny, but it probably wasn’t the place for funny.  Josh Lucas played a decent enough asshole, and Sam Elliott was pretty good as General Ross.

This movie had a chance but, let’s be honest, Ang Lee fucked this thing up.  The story could have been alright with a little more smashing and the performances were mostly good.  The real problem with this movie is that Ang Lee was asked to do it right when he was finishing film school so he wanted to be able to submit this movie.  Pretty, but pretentious.  And just boring.  You don’t need to see this movie.  Watch the Incredible Hulk instead.  It wasn’t nearly as pretty, but my Hulk movies involve mostly smashing.  So fuck this movie, but make love to the Incredible Hulk.  Hulk gets “Oh, some more repressed memories” out of “Bad science, maybe.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Star Trek (2009)


I Like This Ship!  Y’know, It’s Exciting!

No one requested this movie and I think most people already know how I feel about it.  I watched this for me.  I bought it on BluRay, special edition style for the win!  I’ve watched it numerous times since purchasing it and I likes it just as much every time.  Let’s get right into it, shall we?  This movie is Star Trek, the revamped movie series written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, directed by J.J. Abrams, and starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Winona Ryder, Chris Hemsworth, Clifton Collins Jr., and, unfortunately, Tyler Perry.

Alright, this little ship comes up on this black hole and this huge ass ship comes out and is like “WHAT?!” and then starts going “Pachew, pachew pachew”.  The USS Kelvin is no match for the Romulan ship, the Narada, so the captain of the Kelvin goes over to discuss a cease fire.  The captain of the Narada, Nero (Eric Bana), asks him a few questions about a person he’s never heard of, then kills him.  George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth) takes over as captain and orders an evacuation of everyone on board including his really, really preggers wife.  Kirk must stay aboard the ship and his wife leaves, giving birth to their son, James Tiberius Kirk.  Also, on Vulcan, baby Spock gets picked on for having a human mom.  Now grown up, James Kirk (Chris Pine) drunkenly hits on Uhura (Zoe Saldana) at a bar and gets beat up by her Starfleet buddies.  One of the shots to the noggin and a pep talk from Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) and he enlists in Starfleet.  On the way there, he meets and befriends Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban).  Years later, Kirk and Spock (Zachary Quinto) get on each others bad side when Kirk cheats on Spock’s test and Spock gets Kirk suspended for it, which keeps Kirk grounded when the Starfleet leaves to check on a distress call from Vulcan.  McCoy gets Kirk on board the USS Enterprise where Kirk is able to stop the ship from warping into a trap from the Narada.  Some people are saved, but most of Vulcan is lost, and Captain Pike is captured by Nero.  Can Spock and Kirk settle their differences and take out this new threat?  No, Spock jettisons Kirk to a frozen planet instead.  But at least he gets to meet old Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (Simon Pegg)!

Some may assume that my nerdiness would inherently make me a Star Trek fan, but this is not the case.  I’ve seen this movie, but I’ve never seen an episode of the TV show and I’ve only ever seen parts of the original movies.  As any self respecting nerd, I picked a side in the Star Wars/Star Trek war and irrationally disregarded the other half.  I’m a Star Wars man.  But something inspired me to watch this movie and I’m very glad that I did.  It rules.  Does it rule as much as Star Wars?  I’ve conferred with my nerdiness and determined that I cannot confirm nor deny that.  But this movie is very good.  The story took a dangerous concept and pulled it off.  Not only is it dangerous to remake such a beloved series, but time travel can be a dangerous, easy story device used by bad writers, but both are pulled off well.  I don’t think I heard too many Trekkies getting their panties in a knot about this movie after it came out, though most had preemptively tied up their panties.  But the story they delivered was well thought out, action-packed, emotional in parts, and charming throughout.  It also looked better than I assume every other incarnation of Star Trek, so it’s got that goin for it too.  The Narada looked awesome, but it was a little problematic for me.  It was apparently originally a mining vessel, but was also more menacing than any mining vessel ever was or should be, and apparently loaded with the most advanced weaponry of it’s time.  Seems a bit overkill for a mining vessel.  But it is comforting to know that we’ll still be able to listen to the Beastie Boys in the year 2245.  Also, why come they have all this advanced technology but they forgot that some technology can automatically time stamp things, taking away your need to start everything with the stardate?

The casting is the best part of this movie.  Every single person in this movie fits their characters and performs them excellently.  Chris Pine was a cocky douche, was funny most of the time, and pulled off the emotional scenes very well.  Zachary Quinto made a fantastic Spock.  When he turns down the Vulcan council early in the movie, I loved the way he practically spat “Live long and prosper” at them.  But for the rest of the movie I felt he was a little dry and unemotional.  Just kidding.  He’s a Vulcan.  He actually came close to emoting too much for a Vulcan.  I didn’t like the choice for his mom though.  Winona Ryder is too hot to pull off being Zachary Quinto’s mom.  Zoe Saldana was fantastic as well, and super hot as always.  She also managed to Navi-whip Spock.  Navi-whipped, p-whipped…get it?  No?  It sounded better in my head.  I got in a argument with myself over whether I liked Simon Pegg or Karl Urban better in this movie, but I wasn’t able to decide.  They’re my favorite characters in this.  Simon Pegg easily gets the win over Karl Urban in total career, but in this movie I give them equal.  Both were funny whenever they were on and both captured their characters.  I felt like Eric Bana may have hammed it up a bit, but not too bad.  Tyler Perry was my only problem with the casting.  Not because he didn’t do his small part well, but because his movies are awful.  I don’t want to go through every name in the movie, but every other name was great.

So, yeah.  This movie rules.  You should watch and own it.  And this is coming from a verified non-Trekkie, so this comes with no bias whatsoever.  I dig the look and the story of this movie a lot, but it wouldn’t be anything without the fantastic cast.  GO WATCH NOW!  Star Trek gets “I’ve never beamed three people from two targets onto one pad before!  I thought that was pretty good!” out of “I am grateful for this.”

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Hanna (2011)


I Just Missed Your Heart

Still getting my delayed review requests out of the way, this time with one from my sister, I think. And if it was my sister, this time it wasn’t a painful chick flick like Sex and the City and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This time she requested a vaguely artsy action flick, so I was more than happy to oblige. The movie is Hanna, directed by Joe Wright, and starring Saoirse Ronan (whose name I have no idea how to pronounce), Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Olivia Williams, Jason Flemyng, Jessica Barden, Tom Hollander, and Michelle Dockery.

Hanna Heller (Saoirse Ronan) is a 16-year-old girl who lives with her father, Erik Heller (Eric Bana), in a solitary cabin in the middle of the wilderness of Finland. They live a perfectly normal life besides the small exception that he’s been grooming her to be an assassin since her youth. Erik’s plan is to send her after a CIA officer, Marissa Weigler (Cate Blanchett), to have Hanna kill her for killing Hanna’s momma. When Hanna is ready, she activates a transmitter that let’s Weigler know where they are, then Erik and Hanna split up, leaving Hanna with only her training, an address for them to meet up at later, and a made up backstory. The CIA take Hanna into custody and Weigler sends in a double (Michelle Dockery) to speak with Hanna. Hanna kills the double and then ass kicks her way out of the facility. As she makes her way towards her father, she stows away with, and later befriends, a wacky progressive family of mom Rachel (Olivia Williams), dad Sebastian (Jason Flemyng), daughter Sophie (Jessica Barden), and son … what’s-his-name. Hanna starts learning about the world her father hid from her while making her way back to meet him. Shortly after the movie ends, Hanna realizes that there are more kids like her, setting up the sequel, Hanna and her Sisters. …That may not be true…

I had sort of expected I’d like this movie when going into it. I like a good action movie, even if they’re dumb. And this one didn’t even seem dumb. But I completely forgot about the movie when it was in the theaters and had even seen it in RedBox a few times but didn’t feel like checking it out, so it was a good thing that I was inspired to watch it by my sister’s request. After watching it, I would say it’s a solid movie with some good action but completely forgettable. Almost immediately after watching the movie, I was having a hard time remembering what happened. But I did like the story. It’s like Hitman if 47 was a 16 year old, genetically engineered girl and not Olyphantastic. And watching her try to understand modern technology and society was pretty interesting as well. The fight scenes were one of the best parts. Most of the time it was Hanna whooping ass on guys that are much bigger and older than her, and once or twice it was Eric Bana whooping ass on people of roughly equal age and height. These fight scenes were pretty well choreographed and great fun to watch. But sadly, the movie made no real impression on me. I’m not entirely sure why it fell short or what it could’ve done to make me love it. I usually have a good concept of what I didn’t like about a movie, but I liked pretty much everything about this movie but I left it with a thoroughly “meh” feeling.

The performances in this movie were all very good as well. Though I resent her for my inability to pronounce her name, Saoirse Ronan was very good. She was cold and in control when it was killing time – she whooped ass like a young female Batman – but she was also a cute, innocent young girl when she was introduced to society. She was always interesting to watch and did a great job here. Eric Bana was pretty good too. Nothing phenomenal, but good. Cate Blanchett’s accent was an interesting choice, though. It seems that, if a movie isn’t going to get her an Oscar nomination, she’ll still be in the movie as long as it’ll let her bust out a crazy accent. In Indiana Jones 4, she got to try out her Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle. In Hanna, it’s some kind of fade-in-fade-out Southern accent. It’s there sometimes and gone a little later. I guess it makes sense since she probably is trained on dialects in the CIA, but it’s never explained what head trauma caused her to lose control of the various dialects she knows. Everyone else was fine and didn’t catch my attention. The guy from Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3 was in this too (Tom Hollander) as some crazy torturer guy that Blanchett hires, and he turned in a very creepy, weird performance. I guess it’s okay to have a bad character be off-putting, though.

So that’s that. I really have a hard time compiling words about this movie because it didn’t stick in my brain whatsoever. All I know is the story is fine, it looks pretty good, there’s some good fight scenes and some good performances, but it didn’t resonate with me. I don’t think anybody would have a problem watching this movie, but you should probably rent it first, otherwise this seems like the kind of movie you’d watch like 4 times a year because you can’t remember anything about it. Altogether I give this movie “I watched what?” out of “Did she turn out as you hoped?”

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