Thor: Ragnarok-Movie Man Jackson

Ah-ah, ah! After the events of Sokovia, The God of Thunder, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), has been busy scouring the Earth for Infinity Stones. He’s been hell-bent on prepping his city of Asgard from a destruction known as Ragnarok, a feeling he possesses as a result of his reoccurring visions of this event. Believing that he has prevented Ragnarok from happening after defeating Surtur the fire demon, the hero returns home in good spirits.

But, those do not last long, as the defeating of Surtur wasn’t the catalyst to stopping Ragnarok. In truth, Ragnarok has already begun, and the Goddess of Death, Hela (Cate Blanchett), announces it with an impact arrival, obliterating Thor’s legendary hammer and banishing him, along with brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to a foreign planet called Sakarr. Led by The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), it’s a place where fatal battles are fought for entertainment, and Thor is forced to enter and fight an old friend in The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). To get back home and save his home, Thor must fight, and somehow get the help of Banner, Loki, and even a mysterious nomad by the name of Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to drive out Hela.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But if it’s fraying, re-coat it. Terrible similes aside, the two Thor movies showcasing the God of Thunder weren’t exactly broken, but the fact is, they are two of the more forgotten or rather, nondescript movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to fans, especially The Dark World (truthfully, yours truly is rather fond of 2011’s Thor). So with Thor: Ragnarok, director Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) has certainly left behind a movie that won’t be considered “nondescript.” Has he left a movie behind that many are calling one of Marvel’s best? That’s up for debate.

The direction is certainly worth taking note of and remembering. The style the trailers promised is front and center throughout. Asgard has never looked better, but it’s the world of Sakarr—a trippy, futuristic hue of neon colors and post-apocalyptic feel—that stands out the most. It makes the somewhat bumpy first 20 or so minutes worth sticking around for. Waititi’s action, visual flair, and predominately 80’s inspired score/soundtrack coalesce to create something so unlike what has been seen in the MCU up to this point. Even the movies that Ragnarok will be most compared with in Guardians of the Galaxy volumes 1 and 2, the third chapter of Thor is substantially different than those.

One main thing Ragnarok shares with those movies is an appetite for humor. It wouldn’t be out of line to consider Thor: Ragnarok comedy first, action/adventure second. And for the most part, the comedy hits more than it misses. Seriously, there are some very funny jokes and awesome delivery found in all characters. But honestly, it can get to be a bit much. The story, while functional, kind of seems to be written around the jokes (apparently 80% of the film is improvised). Absolutely nothing is wrong with a lighter superhero film, though going so light while still trying to generate emotion can undermine some of the more dramatic moments of the production. In a few “big” moments, Ragnarok seems to struggle with this, wanting to immediately cut to the next visual gag or joke from something with a serious or vice versa.

With that said, one does have to commend those in charge who say they’d like to flip the script and actually achieve in doing it. Thor: Ragnarok isn’t a Jason Bourne, a franchise in which director and lead actor said they’d never do another unless they could do something else—only to proceed with doing the same thing they had done three movies prior. The changes in Ragnarok seem to revitalize the main holdovers from the prior installments in Hemsworth and Hiddleston. Both seem to really be having fun like never before, and the machinations of the story allow them to take advantage of their natural chemistry. Those who wanted more Hulk get their wish granted; the not-so-jolly green giant has a load of screentime and Ruffalo handles the two parts of the beast and Banner like only he can.

Newbie to the MCU Tessa Thompson brings a great new character into the fold as Valkyrie, the foundation and backstory being laid for her own potential standalone journey. As for other newbies, their characters don’t amount to much in the grand scheme of things, but in the ride that is Thor: Ragnarok, they fit right in. Anytime a wide-eyed Jeff Goldblum is cast (save for Independence Day: Resurgence), it can only amp the fun factor up. There are some disappointments, but not due to performance. The villainous Hela is introduced wonderfully and played up wonderfully by Cate Blanchett, only to be forgotten in long stretches of the movie. Karl Urban, always a joy to watch, is a little underutilized as a basic henchman. Taika Waititi probably possesses the biggest laughs lending his voice to Korg, a rock-based gladiator-turned-gatekeeper of the battle arena.

 

Thor: Ragnarok is a sugar rush in the most positive and negative of ways. But Marvel does deserve some praise for wanting to tweak its formula and try a few new things with one of its less beloved lead Avengers. No matter what…Marvel, uh, finds a way.

C+

Photo credits go to collider.com, polygon.com, and comicbook.com.

For additional detailed thoughts on films both small and large, games, and the key moments that comprise each, check out ThatMomentIn.com

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Now You See Me 2: Movie Man Jackson

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Completely missed opportunity to be named the more interesting Now You Don’t, as opposed to the uninspired Now You See Me 2. It has been one year since the Four Horsemen have been seen last in public. It’s been so long that one member, Henley Reeves, has left the group and “The Eye” entirely. Now left are Danny Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), and new Horsewoman Lula May (Lizzy Caplan).

The foursome are still being pursued/overseen by FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), and await their next mission, which involves exposing a tech CEO and his practices. Unfortunately, all goes to hell, and the group find all of their secrets exposed. But by who? Enter Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), rich businessman who wants a powerful piece of technology to remain unseen. The Horseman have no choice: Pull off the job, or die.

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In the first movie, it was Morgan Freeman’s character who mentioned that the audience should “Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you’ll actually see.” That only works if there is something worth looking closely at. Now You See Me 2 is not really one of those things.

In a way, NYSM2, in the opinion of yours truly, kind of comes to the fight with one arm tied behind its back, due to the failures of the final act in the first. I was ready to put those failures behind completely behind me, as I did have a little fun with the first, and I sort of did due to the simple fact I paid to see the sequel. Problem is, doesn’t take long to bring those story fails back to the forefront, and the movie never really gets into a flow. It all amounts to a feature that is rather choppy, in both direction and storytelling, and the attempts at humor aren’t all that funny (how this is listed as a comedy on IMDB is beyond me).

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With the heist aspect, movies like the Ocean’s trilogy and Fast Five have been mentioned when discussing Now You See Me 2. But, NYSM2 lacks the energy, fun factor, and functional stories that those movies had, and the twists are so overabundant and just as facepalm-inducing as before, if not more so. So much of the dialogue seems devoid of nothing. Sure, there are a few interesting sequences shot by Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation), but many of the big scenes pale in comparison to the original’s and look cheaper, despite having a bigger budget. And the explanations for said big scenes? I guess they work enough. But another issue had as a whole with this production is this whole “science vs. magic” matter. It’s like the movie wants to be super-smart with how it pulls off these grand schemes by explaining what happens via conventionality. Cool, but what about the scenes where characters stop rainfall, or vanish into thin air or concrete? That is what needs to be explained.

Bigger budget means bigger cast. Most of the same faces return, and like before, they really aren’t more than followers with little to no character arcs. As the new addition to the magician stable, Lizzy Caplan fits in nicely. Of the four, Harrelson stands out the most in sort of a goofy performance. Issue had is how the writing paints them to be the heroes, almost to a cringy level. For my money, this is a villain versus villain (versus villain) story. Radcliffe is the spoiled pompous youngster who has a tie to a past character, Freeman still serves as the story’s de facto narrator, and Ruffalo plays both sides. There’s no one to truly get behind, and the way threads wrap up with seemingly everything and everyone intertwined and closer than believed, it is hard to see how a third will be done without it feeling overpowered to one side. Yet, a third is all but certain. 

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Every magic trick is said to be broken down into three acts of a pledge, turn, and prestige, and it looks like the same can be said for this series. If Now You See Me is an average pledge, Now You See Me 2 is a pretty broken turn, with little extraordinary coming from the ordinary. Not much anticipation for the prestige.

D

Photo credits go to moviepilot.com, http://www.smh.com.au, and joblo.com.

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Now You See Me: Movie Man Jackson

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Even The Masked Magician couldn’t make complete sense of Now You See Me. In various areas of the United States, four unique but separate magicians in illusionist Danny Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), mentalist Merritt McKinley (Woody Harrelson), escape artist Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), and sleight-of-hand con artist Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) make a living off of their skills.

Their skills lead each of them to be recruited by some unknown entity. One year later, the individuals have formed to become the Four Horsemen, selling out arenas and putting on grandiose shows in Las Vegas. All is well and good until the group pulls off the unthinkable by robbing an actual bank in Paris and no one knowing how they’ve accomplished doing so. Magic? Actual real methods? It is up to FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) to figure this out.

NOW YOU SEE ME Ph: Steve Dietl © 2013 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.

Magic can be cool to look at. But once it is boiled down to its core elements, there isn’t all that much there. This is, in my opinion, a good description of Now You See Me. Some cool stuff on the surface, but as more becomes revealed, little is of substance.

Louis Leterrier holds the magic directorial wand here, and technically, it doesn’t look that bad. The large scale matters like the heist and chase scenes have a nice flow to them. Since we’re dealing with magicians, we’re always looking at these moments with a tighter eye than usual, just to see if we can catch what the magicians are up to. Some of the more smaller scaled bits like throwing cards or floating in a bubble look cheaper than anticipated,. Even with the script problems (and there are a litany of them), the pace never really slows to a crawl, which is a good thing.

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But as stated, there are a litany of script problems that even the best director likely wouldn’t be able to overcome. While the pace never slows, it is rushed at times. After a wonderful setup that introduces the audience to all four magicians, they are immediately thrown together faster than you could say Abracadabra. Their robbery is amazing to watch, but I’d argue it is also the climax at only a third of the way through. This rushing plagues the four characters throughout; simply, there’s little, if anything, that becomes known of them. It is somewhat sad, too, because The Four Horsemen actors (and actress) are good. Not amazing, but good and fun to watch, especially Harrelson and Eisenberg, It would have been nice to have a reason to care about why they’re doing what they’re doing, but there isn’t a reason, and they all end up feeling like disposable vessels for their mission.

However, the thin character writing isn’t the worst offense. The worst offense is easily the much maligned 3rd act, specifically the ending. The ending is the type of ending that one could try to the end of time to make sense of, and will likely never be able to. Somehow, it is both stupidly bad and just flat out laughable in its reveal, how it is shot, how the actors look, and all that came before it to lead up to the moment. Hey, at least it’ll be remembered, right?

To top all of that off, there’s a requisite love story that does little for yours truly. Taken on their own, the two roles are fine, but their relationship that is present between the two characters feels extremely shoehorned in. Ruffalo’s been better, but he’s still entertaining here, even if he’s overdoing it a little at times. Mélanie Laurent is steady, just underwritten. Michael Caine is Sir Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman does the old sage role as well as anyone at this point in film.

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“The more you look, the less you see.” With Now You See Me, it is more along the lines of “The more you watch, the less it’ll make sense.” Watch with that mindset, and the magic that the film does possess in places can be a little captivating.

C

Photo credits go to screenrant.com, moviepilot.com, and thetalkiespodcast.com.

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Spotlight: Movie Man Jackson

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“It takes a village to raise them. It takes a village to abuse them.”

Even the deepest buried skeletons can be uncovered with a little perseverance. In 1974, a Boston priest is brought in to a police station on possible molestation charges, but they all get swept under the rug and nary a word is made.

Now in the year 2001, new editor of the Boston Globe Marty Brown (Liev Schrieber) becomes interested in revisiting the story after reading a column about a priest who is believed to have molested multiple children over 30 years. The task of finding the story and bringing it to the masses who may not actually want the story published fall on to the Spotlight team of the Globe, a four-person investigative reporting unit led by “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton), featuring Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James).

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Does real journalism exist now? Yours truly is probably the wrong person to ask this question (of course it still does, if one seeks it out), but it does seem like the glut of what exists today, likely as a part of our digital society, is extremely light on substance and research. Spotlight is a true-to-life and riveting film about what it took to bring an unbelievably horrific and decades-spanning happening out of the dark and into the light.

“True-to-life” may be a very strong choice of words, but perhaps here more than any other movie, Spotlight feels less like a cinema feature and more like a documentary. Even documentary may be the wrong word. I’d go so far to say that Spotlight feels akin to you and I observing employees doing their jobs. In this case, the audience is watching journalists Robinson, Rezendes, Pfeiffer, and Carroll attempt to deliver an earth-shattering story. Even though the subject matter and how it evolves how from an isolated incident to a full-on epidemic is a focus of Spotlight, the focus is simply the painstaking work of being an investigative reporter.

It may sound dull, but it is far from being so. The look at journalism, its inherent responsibilities, and the constant grit-and-grind and it takes to get a single investigative story published is fascinating. Yours truly always has had massive respect for those who are really in the field, and even more respect after viewing this. Director Tom McCarthy (The Cobbler—?!) is pretty basic style-wise in regards to adding anything eye-catching, but it may be a stylistic choice, keeping everything “as is” with no unnecessary frills or embellishment.

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Then again, when guys like Stanley Tucci and John Slattery are appearing in the cast and billed around the six or seven slot, directorial frills may not be a necessity. The aforementioned two, Rachel McAdams, Brian d’Arcy James, Liev Schrieber, Mark Ruffalo, and Michael Keaton are all superb and extremely believable as a journalistic unit, with tons of well-written back and forth lines.

Perhaps the only small downside to them being so well oiled as a unit is the that, individually and for Oscar chances, they do not stand out as much. But these aren’t amazing, larger-than-life characters, nor should they be. They are people who are doing what they are hired to do, and that in of itself is refreshing with no external side romances, family issues, or the like.

If there is one person out of the awesome cast that does stand out, however, it, for my money, would be Ruffalo. His Renzendes character, like the others, isn’t one to be remembered for all time, but as the movie goes on, Ruffalo’s performance just sticks with the viewer, from his steadfastness in getting answers to his mannerisms in even just getting a cab and speaking with a lawyer. Back-to-back supporting nominations could be in the near future.

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It’s great to see that McCarthy and Spotlight pay respect to those that finally brought needed attention and actual eyes to a dark chapter in the Archdiocese and ultimately the Roman Catholic church. In the form of a stellar film, Spotlight is also a great reminder that, in a world of TMZ’s and Perez Hilton’s, substantial journalism can still be had, and when it exists, we better take notice.

Grade: A

Photo credits go to ew.com, filmreporter.com, and usatoday.com.

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Avengers: Age of Ultron: Movie Man Jackson

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“How is humanity saved if it isn’t allowed to evolve?”

How is it that striving for peace almost always seems to make things worse than they are? There is no assembling The Avengers this time around, the group is already comprised. In Age of Ultron, the good guys are back and a cohesive super unit. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye are doing their best to keep the world and humanity running smoothly. They are doing a great job, but as Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) states, they should be fighting in the hope that one day, they will no longer have to.

Enter the Ultron program, which Tony Stark is not able to build in a cave…with a box of scraps. Designed to be a global artificial intelligence defense that keeps unwanted intruders from entering Earth, Stark and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), decide to give another go. Unfortunately, the Ultron AI goes haywire, and “peace” in its mind involves the eradication of The Avengers and humanity.

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At this point, Marvel cannot lose, from a revenue sense at least. Maybe one day a huge loss will come that ends up changing the terrain of comic book feature presentations, but not yet. From a quality sense, Avengers: Age of Ultron is still a winner, but not to the extent that the The Avengers was. Don’t take that as AoU being a failure, take it as AoU being a functional blockbuster.

Director Joss Whedon has the job of once again bringing these popular comic book characters together, and he possesses a real talent in doing so. He wastes no time in reintroducing the audience to the gang in a frenetic, fun, and maybe too comic-book-ish (it probably is stupid to complain about this given the origins, but whatever) opening sequence. Whereas maybe one or two characters from the first movie had less total impact and screentime, this go around, everyone’s contributions do feel as equal as could possibly be.

There’s even some notable depth given to a few of them that is totally unforeseen. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is more than the human archer, and yet he isn’t at the same time. Sounds confusing, but it makes sense when seen. But the real development occurs with the arrogant Tony Stark. Downey, in yours truly’s opinion, hasn’t been this good since the first Iron Man. What is being done with his character is a nice, long, slow burn heel turn, reminiscent of a wrestler who shows bad guy tendencies for months but never officially turns until way down the line. It should be great to see it culminate in next year’s Civil War.

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Not everything is handled expertly, however. It could just be a personal preference, but I’d prefer my Avengers films to be love-free. Not to spoil anything, but anytime two specific characters get doe-eyed and spout double entendres around each other, it is hard to stomach and the movie truly bogs down in pace. This is one of a few moments/side plots that are odd in their presence, adding to a story that at its base is somewhat coherent yet fragmented; not as complete as the predecessor. For what has come out with Whedon and the creative differences pertaining to AoU in various scenes, it will be interesting to see how things appear in the rumored extended cut once a home media release rolls out.

With a group this large and egos this sizable, you have got to have a villain to be formidable. Ultron (James Spader) is…just good. Visually, he looks menacing, and Spader gives a distinct voice to the character, but a belief exists that he could be so much more. His inclusion comes off as a tad rushed, as in it doesn’t even take a minute for the program to become corrupt. And, he falls short of being the badass he could be. The trailers painted him as a ruthless, sentient being, and he gets to about 75-80% of that. The other 20-25% is filled with hit or miss one-liners, which can be said for most of the film, and underdeveloped motivations.

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Avengers: Age of Ultron is still the definitive christening of the summer blockbuster season, and it is hard to be completely dissatisfied with what is present here. If a hunger for comic book heroes and villains exists, one will get their fill with this one. But instead of feeling like a unique event all in of itself like the original did, AoU ends up feeling like another cog in the Marvel machine.

Grade: B-

Photo credits go to geekslife.com, io9.com, and comicbook.com.

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Marvel’s The Avengers: Movie Man Jackson

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 “Because if we can’t protect the Earth, you can be damned well sure we’ll avenge it!”

And this is the story all about how a little blue box turned the world upside down. Director of S.H.I.E.L.D Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) makes his way onto the Santa Fe headquarters of the agency one day during an evacuation. The fabled blue cubed Tesseract is beginning to act funny, and before the research team can figure out why, a portal to another realm opens, and out of it arrives Asgardian Loki (Tom Middleton). Having lost his rule over his homeland previously, Loki has struck a deal with an otherworldly race: If he seizes and gives the Tesseract to these beings, they will be under his control to rule over Earth.

With the powerful cube gone, Fury decides it is essentially code red. What is code read? The Avengers initiative. This is war, and not a war that can be fought singularly by Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), or the Norse God of Thunder. Captain America, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, and and others are going to need each other to take down this threat. Getting these guys on the same page, however, may be a tougher war than taking down Loki.

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No matter how many times it is watched, The Avengers still carries a feeling of astonishment, to yours truly at least. Whenever I think of this movie, I think of that semi-iconic scene where the camera does a nice pan around all of the heroes. It is a geek-out moment, and this is coming from a guy who isn’t a comic book nerd. The fact that director Joss Whedon can extract that feeling, or make it from nothing in some cases, is quite the feat.

That is to say that Whedon has made something in The Avengers that works well enough standalone, but the true magic is seeing how all of the other films tied to Phase 1 before it have built up to the specific moment. Some might have been better quality than others, certainly, but at the end of the day they all had enough linkage to each other to comprise the intertwined universe that Marvel envisioned.

It’s little things like, for example, hearing Tony mention to Bruce that Steve is the guy his father worked on. This intertwining gives depth, and also makes the rather simple plot of “taking back item X (the Tesseract) from the bad guy” a bit more substantial and meaningful because the object of attention has had a presence in many of the previous films.

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Where Whedon shoots for the moon and hits the target over and over again are the massive action set pieces. Aside from some lumbering and very stylized hand-to-hand combat, when it is time for buildings to crumble, planes to come down, and intruders to get hammered, blasted, smashed, or “shielded,” the movie dazzles consistently.

Even with the high quality of superhero action in this, the best moments, at least to yours truly, are the smaller moments among the heroes. Unlike some later films that really forced the humor (looking at you primarily, Iron Man 3), the humor here is natural, and comes from well-written lines and the simple clashes that come with these larger-than-life personalities.

Each alpha carries distinct traits that make them who they are for mostly better but worse when forced to assimilate in a group. Watching Captain America and Iron Man spar verbally with different ideologies (really planted the seeds early for Civil War), or Thor flexing his demigod status making it occasionally difficult to connect with others is compelling. One can tell there’s a real comfort level, whether a good guy/woman, a smaller side character, or bad guy, everyone has with their roles, which also applies to the guy who has the least experience with his superhero character. Mark Ruffalo absolutely nails The Hulk from appearance to personality, adding to the spot-on casting that Marvel always seems to bat close to 1.000 on.

Nothing said here about The Avengers by yours truly is groundbreaking, insightful, or newly eye-opening. But years later, it is still clear that Whedon has assembled many parts to create something very whole that will last the test of time.

Grade: A-

Photo credits go to impawards.com, comicvine.com, and fanpop.com.

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The Incredible Hulk: Movie Man Jackson

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“Hulk…SMASH!”

Probably was expecting a review of a certain Marvel webslinger this week right? In due time readers (hopefully)! But we are keeping it in the family with Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk. In this version, brillant scientist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) begins on the run from the U.S. government. Why? Prior to this predicament, Bruce was working with fellow scientist Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) and her military general father Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) in an effort to find, presumably, a use of gamma radiation for healing purposes for soldiers.

Like most scientists, he tests the science on himself, and things go as one would expect. His transformation into a green tinted brute spurs him to destroy the lab and injure many within it. Escaping this, years later he turns up in Brazil, looking to rid himself of this monstrosity. Though off the grid, General Ross gets wind of Banner’s location after an odd accident at the factory Bruce works at. So, the general sends a unit for Bruce’s capture, but Bruce escapes yet again by way of his timely hulking metamorphosis. Still on the run, the scientist resolves to get back to the states to find a remedy to this bizarre “talent” the government so wants to harness.

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2003’s Hulk, directed under the vision on Ang Lee, left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. Though I didn’t despise it like others, more or less I was one of these people. It just was too slow, meandering and took itself way too seriously. Luckily, the rebooted The Incredible Hulk is a lot more fun, but still missing something for one reason or another.

First of all, the movie starts in an interesting way in that Bruce is already living with his affliction, and the initial damage he inflicts while enraged is shown through a montage almost entirely in first person view. At first, this seemed like a mistake in character building, with no build to speak of to this moment. Upon further analysis though, this was a great start to the movie. If the 2003 version taught us anything, it was that too much time in the lab waiting for the inevitable to happen can mar an entire movie. This intro found in TIH reduced a hour of runtime to three or so minutes, while not compromising why Bruce was testing on himself, since it is all explained later effectively enough.

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An effective opening does not mask the problems of the plot as a whole however. In TIH, the motivation of some characters is hazy to say the least, and it did lessen the enjoyment of it. But the biggest issue with this film is the lack of tension. There is the obvious feud between Banner and General Ross, and later between Hulk and Abomination. Sadly, both fail to carry much weight. The former should, but the clashes between the two are few and far between as either Banner and sometimes Betsy included spend a large chunk of the runtime as fugitives, which becomes extremely dull after a while.

The latter, when it occurs, is a huge spectacle. But, it does not come to fruition until the last 20 minutes. It can be understood that the true tension is the internal fight that Bruce has within. This is fine, but it is used as the main conflict, when it is really best served as a supplement. I am not a comic nerd at all, so it is very possible that the Hulk has some more compelling foes in his world. From what I have viewed in movies though, the villains in Hulk lore are unappealing.

There aren’t many standouts from an acting standpoint. Edward Norton has shown to be an extremely versatile actor in his career, but here someone else may have been a better choice to be cast. By no means is he awful, but he never really becomes Bruce Banner either, and part of that could be due to his well known status; it just becomes harder for the audience to buy him here. It may have been a wiser choice to bring in someone of lesser stature. It is a respectable performance, but uninspired. In the grand scheme of things, the Hulk character looks to be in great hands as Mark Ruffalo showed in The Avengers.

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As Banner’s love interest, Liv Tyler’s Betsy Ross is really one note. In almost every scene, she has the same emotion of wonder/astonishment, never bringing anything more to the table. Her chemistry with Norton was OK and nothing more. Pretty good to look at, but her acting chops are questionable. William Hurt is a proven performer, but he is reduced to the standard shady military leader who cannot be trusted. He does what can be done. Lastly, Tim Roth’s character falls into the same archetype as General Ross. He eventually become’s the Hulk’s equal, but in all actuality he serves as a plot device from point A to B to C.

TIH relies a lot on CGI, and all of it looks great. More so than any previous Marvel movie, this really looks like it is lifted from comics, from transitions to lighting. The Hulk himself looks…well hulking, but not in a comically big way like 2003’s version. He moves real fluid, and his transformations are very convincing. When he does start to Hulk smash things, I couldn’t help but be in awe. Even the Abomination looked awesome. Sort of a cross between the berserker from Gears of War and the Nemesis from Resident Evil, nonetheless the filmmakers crafted a visually appealing foe. While the fight scenes looked crisp, there seemed to be a lack of them.

A better film than its previous incarnation, The Incredible Hulk is respectable fun but still not the film that truly places the Hulk character on par with his Avenger brethren. But as The Avengers exhibited, there is untapped potential with the green giant, and hopefully moviegoers get a focused effort sooner rather than later.

Grade: C

Photo credits go to http://www.impawards.com, hollywoodchicago.com, fanpop.com, & geeksofdoom.com.

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