Monday, June 16, 2008

Mixed bag of a weekend

The Happening was a let-down and The Incredible Hulk was surprisingly good.

After the 2003 Ang Lee Hulk failed to impress audiences nationwide, most people thought that not much could really expected from another Hulk movie a mere five years later.

This new installment, which Marvel Studios is quick to point out is NOT a sequel, harkens back to the television classic with Lou Ferrigno and Bill Bixby. There are several homages to the classic series with the "Lonely Man" theme song making a scene in the new film, as well as a cameo and vocal work from the still massive and clearly working out Ferrigno. And Stan Lee's obligatory cameo actually had him do a little acting this time instead of just appearing.

Edward Norton's performance was way better than Eric Bana, and moderately better than Bill Bixby.

The story also is a throwback to the old tv series. Dr. Bruce Banner is in hiding as he tries to figure out ways to reverse his condition. The update is clearly in the special effects and, unlike the 2003 film, culls more from the comic books that originally told Hulk's story.

Hulk's nemesis in this installment is a character named Emil Blonsky, as well as the classic story of General Ross chasing Banner with the U.S. military.

With a lot more action and a lot less introspection compared to Ang Lee's Hulk, it is a faster-paced, more compelling story that will thrill fans of the old show and of the comic series.

Not quite as good overall as Iron Man, but containing a nice little appearance from Tony Stark, it does help set the table for the next step towards the Avengers movie that is in the works.

M. Night Shyamalan's latest outing shows us why it's good to let go of the past and try new things. Shyamalan's attempt to get back to scary movies with bizarre twist endings leaves us wishing for the good old days of Lady in the Water.
The Happening feels like an old-school disaster movie, but with a modern environmental twist. The idea isn't bad, but the acting surely is. I always thought Mark Wahlberg was better than this airy, weak performance, but he sure doesn't show us the same caliber of performance we saw in The Italian Job, or The Departed, or Four Brothers, or even Shooter. Zooey Daschenel is a better singer and a better model than she is an actress.
The bad acting was enough to kill any suspense and intrigue that a solid story idea could have created. And the severe telegraphing of his typical twist ending ruin and chance for shock value that M. Night could have had in store.

So, The Incredible Hulk gets a B and The Happening gets a D+
--John Berry, Online Editor--


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