To start things off, let’s take a look back at Ang Lee's 2003 film, Hulk. To this day, it's considered to be one of the worst superhero films ever made, (although I'd have to give the crown in this category to Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer). Now, to start off, I'm going to admit two things. First, I haven't seen this film in years, so this is just based on my memory of it. Second, when I first saw this film, I didn't think it was that bad. Your opinion of me may be lessened by this news but at least some people shared my opinion as it grossed over 200 million so make of that what you will. It starred Eric Bana as Bruce Banner, Jennifer Connelly as Betty Ross, Sam Elliot as General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, Josh Lucas as Major Glenn Talbot, and Nick Nolte as David Banner, Banner's insane father. The plot of it revolves around Banner just before and after he has been exposed to the radiation that turns him into the Hulk as he tries to hide it and then uses it to defend himself from Thunderbolt and later against his insane father.
From what I remember, the casting of this film was perfect. I always thought Bana was good as Banner, Connelly was good as Betty and Josh Lucas was just a dick as Talbot. Despite the fact the part was mostly made up for the film, I thought Nolte was delightfully insane as Banner's father. But I have to say, the best in the cast was Sam Elliot as Thunderbolt who was ruthless but could be sympathetic and was probably the best decision they made for this film. I also thought some of the action scenes were good, especially when the Hulk threw a tank across a desert or spit a missile at a chopper.
On the negative side, however, the film completely departed from the storyline of the original comics. It made the reason for Banner's transformation genetic, something only awakened by the accident rather than being the cause. The plot just sucked and the directorial style did likewise. For one thing, it did that thing where they place multiple camera angles into a single shot similar to the way they did in 24, but it didn't work well in it at all and was just flat out annoying. While I thought Nick Nolte was great in his part, it, like the rest of the plot elements, made no since and of all the Marvel villains they could have used, they just made this one up, (although I have heard that he is loosely based off an obscure Marvel villain known as the Absorbing Man but it was still a poor choice). Then you had the Hulk himself who looked like a cartoon and was just too indestructible. I know that's suppose to be the idea of it, but this film just took it a little too far. To sum up my negative thoughts for this film in a single sentence; it was an action film that tried to be artsy or an artsy film that tried to be an action movie, (I'm not sure which), and ended up failing at both.
While the casting was good and some of the action scenes were entertaining, the rest of the movie just sucked. The plot made no since, the characters likewise, and just couldn't stay true enough to the source material.
What happens when you take a second rate superhero, put in the hands of a second rate director, and fill it up with cast members who aren't at the highest points of the careers? Well, you get Iron Man and to tell you the truth I thought it was good but overrated film and before you get pissed off at me allow me to explain. It was released in 2008 and stared Robert Downy Jr. as Tony Stark, Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane, Stark's mentor, Terrence Howard as Stark's best friend James “Rhodey” Rhodes, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Stark's personal secretary, and was directed by Jon Favreau. The plot of it mainly revolves around Stark as he first constructs the Iron Man suit, his fighting against terrorists, and attempts to get his company back under his control.
On the positive side, you have the acting. Say what you want about Downy Jr., the guy was just perfect for the part. In this film, he was all at once funny, an asshole, charming, cool, and a genius and you don't see too many characters like him. Paltrow as Pepper was funny and serious all at once and Terrence Howard was perfect as Rhodey. Then you have the individual scenes that were just funny as hell such as when he somehow talks people into doing whatever he wants them to. For example, he manages to charm a reporter to sleep with him, even though she is trying to have a serious conversation. Another that comes to mind is when he convinces Rhody to drink with him on his private jet and then the flight attendants start pole dancing. I mean what the hell?! Not a complaint but still, how did that happen? There was also a lot of good humor in other parts, particularly revolving around Stark creating the suit and how he messes it up. It's kind of odd, but it almost felt more like a comedy then a superhero film but it was still great in that department.
On the negative side, there were very few action scenes in this film which is very surprising for any superhero film, especially one that was one of the highest grossing films of the year and the few action scenes they had were too short and weren’t satisfying at all. Then you had Jeff Bridges as Stane who's role as a villain was ruined in the promos for this film, (the build up to it suggests it was suppose to be a twist), and to be fair, he wasn't that great of one. Why? Well, he was to obvious, he didn't play the part of a villain that well, and monologue to much when he had the hero right where he wanted him. Biggest villain cliché in history. Finally, it seemed like it was trying to be the Batman Begins of Iron Man; more focused on establishing the characters and technical aspects of everything, rather than just getting to it.
All around, I did enjoy this film but thought it was overrated. The casting was great, the special effect were done well, and was at times hilarious. Unfortunately it spent too much time building up to the fighting and had very little payoff and Jeff Brides just wasn't that good as a villain. It was good, but not that good.
The Incredible Hulk
Ah, now this was the film adaptation fans of The Incredible Hulk had been waiting for. Unfortunately it came out the same year as Iron Man so it’s lived in its shadow. It starred Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky, Liv Tyler as Betty Ross, and William Hurt as General Thunderbolt. The plot of this one revolved around Bruce Banner as he tried to find a cure for himself while avoiding Thunderbolt's men and fighting against Blonsky, the specialist they brought in who would eventually become the Abomination.
On the positive side, this film had everything Ang Lee's Hulk lacked. The action was good and believable, (as far as the subject matter goes), and the Hulk didn't look like a cartoon in this one. Granted, it was still obviously CGI but it actually looked like something that could be real, where as the last one just looked like Shrek on steroids or something. You also had a great antagonist in Blonsky who would later become the Abomination and the final fight between it and the Hulk was just awesome. It also contained many references to the original series from the 1970s, ranging from the look of Banner's laboratory to the theme song and they were nice little tributes.
On the negative side, however, this film lacked everything that was good about Ang Lee's Hulk. Norton was good as Banner but he wasn't great either and the same can be said for the rest of the cast with the exception of Tim Roth. Most of the actors seemed like they were their just to collect a paycheck and get on with their days and there was very little dialoged throughout the entire film and most of it was spoken blandly without much effort behind it.
With that said, I thought the action in this film was great, as were the little references to the old series but it suffered from bland acting and little dialoged. It's not terrible but it certainly could have been a lot better.
Before I move on, I have to mention that the part of Bruce Banner has once again been recast for the upcoming Avengers film. This time the part is going to Mark Ruffalo, who had apparently been everyone's original choice but the CEO of Marvel at the time wanted Norton for the part so he got it. Film studio politics. Don't you just love them?
Iron Man 2
Last on my little list and, until Saturday, the last of the Avenger related films, is Iron Man 2. Released last year, so far, it's the only sequel to any of the Avenger related films. All of the previous cast members returned, with the exception of Terrence Howard, who was replaced by Don Cheadle, (studio politics again I assume) and I found this a bit strange, considering that they casted Howard for the part because they thought he would be good as War Machine in the sequels. Ironic, isn't it? Anyway, this film added Mickey Rourke to the cast as the villain Ivan Vanko, a.k.a. Whiplash, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer, Stark's corporate rival, and Scarlet Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow. In it, Stark tries to resist the government's attempts to claim the Iron Man suit, while dealing with a slow but steady poisoning of his body, due to his use of the arc reactor. To complicate matters further, Ivan Vanko, son of a man who co-designed the original arc reactor shows up with his own arc reactor powered weapons with a vendetta against Stark.
On the positive side the cast members who returned were all once again great in their parts. Don Cheadle was good as Rhodey, and the new cast members were great in their parts. Mickey Rourke was a great villain, Samuel L. Jackson was perfect as Fury, (but can you really think of a part he hasn't been great in?), Scarlett Johansson was great as Black Widow, (although they kind of drifted from the original character's profile), and Sam Rockwell was great as Hammer. The action in this film was also a lot more satisfying then the action of the first film and the first fight with Whiplash was incredibly entertaining, (although in ways you wouldn't expect). The humor was also good, mainly revolving around Stark's antics, thinking death was near but wasn't as funny as the first film.
On the negative side, the action scenes were once again a bit underwhelming. Even though it was better than the action in the first film, it was still a bit of a letdown, particularly the final fight with Whiplash. And once again, the humor was good but just wasn't as good as the humor in the first film. Finally, the ending just felt rushed and I don't know how else to describe it.
All around, I have to say this film wasn't really any better or worse than the first. They improved where they needed to improve but not by a great deal and the humor went a bit downhill but not by much. Maybe it's because I didn't hear as much praise on this film as I did the first but this one seemed just as good as the first and just as bad.
So what else can I say about these films? Well, they're all typical summer blockbusters and not much more. Each film is good, but they're by no means perfect and I personally prefer the dark tone of other films like the latest Batman films or Watchmen as opposed to these films. Don't get me wrong. I still enjoy them but I don't think any of them have a chance of being remembered in the long run. Thor is due for release this Saturday and I don't think it's going to be much different. It looks like it will be good but not much more than a popcorn movie. Then in June, Captain America is being released, and I have no intention of seeing that. Why you may ask? Well, Iron Man and Thor may be second rate superheroes but Captain America....I don't know what to say and if you can't figure it out on your own....you have my pity.
And those are my thoughts on the current Avenger related films. Some of you may hate me for my opinion on these films but I say each to his own. I may or may not see Thor later this month, so don't expect a review on it anytime soon. So until next time, this is the Illusive One-
(Bullet flies past Illusive One's head)
Illusive One: WHOA! WHAT THE HELL!? OH CRAP! KORSGAARD!
Korsgaard: HOW DARE YOU GIVE IRON MAN A LESS THAN PERFECT REVIEW!
Illusive One: SHIT! I GOTTA GO! LATER!
(Illusive One runs out of building as more bullets are shot at Illusive One)
Korsgaard: HOLD STILL SO I CAN SHOOT YA!
Illusive One: YOU'LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE!
Korsgaard: WHO SAID THAT WAS MY INTENTION?!
Illusive One: SHIT!
To be continued..........