Some people have too much talent and too much time. That definitely describes the creators of this viral video:
The new international trailer was released yesterday for next summer's Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince...
...revealing a film franchise that's growing darker with it's audience. Evil is undoubtedly rearing it's head at he wizard school, and this time Harry has the help of Dumbledore.
I always thought it was interesting how the books grew richer and darker (and most of the time thicker) with each successive volume. They grew with their audience and, if this trailer is any indication, this film won't be for the kiddies. Thoughts?
SNL alum and Sarah Palin lookalike is threatening to flee if her spot-on imitation of hte Republican Vice-Presidential candidate is still relevant come Nov. 4. And she's not just leaving the country, she's looking to head into orbit. Maybe Mars. Or Venus. That's a good alternative to Palin in the White House:
While my desk becomes an unrequitted disaster of papers and memos, here's a really nice movie review from Web guru and original X-phile Nick Moore on the new "X-Files" film. Enjoy!
Ever visit old friends you haven’t seen in years? That’s what watching The X-Files: I Want to Believe was like for me.
I was an avid X-Phile during the nine years the show ran (especially the first seven years). So much so that I was even given a set of DVDs of the entire series as a Christmas gift – I still watch an occasional episode now and then. What intrigued me about the series was the combination of well plotted, well acted stories, and the interplay between the main characters, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). That and the underlying notion of a dark and intricate conspiracy by aliens and the
government to mislead the public and obfuscate the truth appealed to my
sense of paranoia.
Episodes of the X-files fell into two distinct categories: There were
episodes that furthered the storyline of the above-mentioned conspiracy, which were connected and sequential, like a (very, very dark) soap opera. These were known as “Mythos” episodes. The other type consisted of stand alone stories, each one independent and unconnected. These were known as “Monster of the Week” episodes.
The X-Files: I Want To Believe falls into the second category, presumably so it might attract a broader audience than die-hard fans familiar with the convoluted, hard to follow Mythos. Makes sense, when you consider the TV series ended six years ago and the first X-Files movie was released a full decade ago.
The plot of The X-Files: I Want to Believe revolves around the
disappearance of an FBI agent. In investigating the abduction, the only lead the FBI has is provided by a defrocked Catholic Priest who is a convicted pedophile. Father Joe (Billy Connolly) is a psychic who claims he has visions of the missing agent. The agent in charge, Dakota Whitney (Amanda Peet), doesn’t know whether to trust him or pistol whip him. Clearly, Fox Mulder’s X-File expertise is needed. They locate Mulder through Sculley, offer him a pardon if he helps, and before you know it, the two are back in action. Scully, who has been working as a doctor in a clinic, is reluctant to re-enter the dark world of the X-Files while Mulder is ecstatic to be back in harness.
Here is where the movie falters a bit. The secondary characters, in particular the FBI agents, are little more than plot devices with very little depth to their characters. I won’t reveal too much of the mechanics of the story, but when something that should be really disturbing happens, it is not nearly as effective as it could have been had more care been taken with character development. The more we know about someone, the more we care. Likewise, the villains of the movie are painted with broad strokes and we end up knowing very little about them. Shallow peripheral character development is inevitable in a 48-minute TV episode, but in a 104-minute movie we should expect more. The exception to this is Connolly’s Father Joe. His portrayal of a reviled former sinner trying desperately to use his psychic abilities as a means of redemption is mesmerizing.
The heart of this movie, however, is the Mulder-Scully relationship. Mulder is still the seeker who desperately wants to believe in the paranormal and Scully is the woman of reason who sometimes struggles to reconcile her belief in science with her religious faith. Part of the magic of the series was how they developed a strong mutual respect, even though their viewpoints were often at odds. The chemistry is still very much there, but with age and passing events it is now touched with a hint of melancholy. Mulder’s quips now seem just a tad bittersweet and Scully at times seems to radiate an aura of sadness in the film. A lot of water has passed under the bridge for these characters since the series ended.
Before the movie’s end, the two characters face and resolve troubling questions of faith and belief. This, it appears to me, is the focus of the film rather than the horror plot.
Have we seen the last of Mulder and Scully on the big screen? Given the lackluster reviews and disappointing box office so far (a mere $10 million on the opening weekend), it would seem so. The movie had the bad luck to open just a week after what potentially could be the biggest summer blockbuster of all time, The Dark Knight.
Keep in mind, however, that The X-Files: I Want To Believe only cost $30 million to produce. Strong DVD sales could push it over the top and make a sequel more likely. X-Files creator Chris Carter has said that he would like to do a movie to be released in 2012, which marks the endpoint of the Mayan calendar. The year 2012 was a reoccurring theme in the X-Files Mythos and I, for one, would love to see a movie based on the date.
Let’s get out there and buy those DVDs when they come out!
For one weekend in one city, a lucky group of science fiction and fantasy fans got their chance to reach for the stars — and actually touch them. Well, the touching was discouraged, but plenty of TV stars were handing out handshakes and hugs, as well as inside scoop on their projects, their personalities and their roles in the genre.
Polaris Convention, an annual science fiction and fantasy convention in Toronto, Canada, formerly known as Toronto Trek, invaded the Ontario capital last weekend with hundreds of fans, a handful of genre celebrities and plenty of enthusiasm.
It began in 1986 as a celebration of all things Star Trek, but has expanded its umbrella to include other shows in the genre and has featured media guests from scifi and fantasy movies and television series such as "Stargate," "Doctor Who," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Lost" and "Moonlight." It is one of several activities run by the TCON Promotional Society
This year the convention brought hundreds of fans, most from Canada and the United States, but a few from as far away as Italy, to celebrate their love of scifi. Guests this year included Jason Dohring (Josef, "Moonlight"), Gareth Lloyd-David (Ianto, "Torchwood"), Rachel Luttrell (Teyla Emmagan, "Stargate Atlantis") and Terry Farrell (Jadzia Dax, "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine"), as well as a number of authors.
Dress for the affair was business casual and some in attendance chose to wear costumes. Celebrities set to attend were Dohring, David-Lloyd from Torchwood, Ellen Muth ("Dead Like Me") and Cliff Simon ("Stargate SG-1").
Fans were packed in with few places to sit. At least half of the fans were left standing for the two and a half hour event while appetizers and drinks kept anxious fans with something in their hands. Though drinks were pricey — in typical hotel fashion — fans did not hesitate to partake in the alcohol flowing freely.
Entries of the celebrities were staggered and David-Lloyd made the first appearance. Each had a celebrity handler who took care of them throughout the weekend and fetched drinks when asked.
Pictures were allowed as long as they were not posed.
Conversations veered off of fan questions regularly. David-Lloyd spoke to guests about his trip to Niagara Falls before his arrival in Toronto while Dohring was more focused on social issues facing the Northwest Ohio area where he was born.
Despite the attempt of some fans to horde all the time the celebrities had to offer for the event, convention personnel rescued the celebrities and kept them moving toward the other guests.
Simon was nearly unrecognizable as a clean shaven version of Ba’al, his character on Stargate, but he was not there as an actor, rather as a model for the character of Kyle Raines for The Black Tower comic book series by Kelly J. Compeau.
Muth arrived late and left quickly after making a quick run through the party. She made herself available for her fans throughout the convention, however, during question and answer sessions and conducted an acting workshop as well.
Once Dohring and David-Lloyd left, the room emptied quickly, but a few fans stuck around to continue speaking to the remaining celebrities who were able to devote more one-on-one time to those who had paid to attend.
In addition to the scheduled events, one of the most notable parts of the convention — any convention — were the elaborate costumes donned by many attendees. Klingons karaoked, aliens gave directions, vampires chatted in the hallways and Indiana Jones toted the Ark of the Covenant through the Doubletree Hotel, often happily posing for photos and striking poses with fans in street clothing.
Media relations coordinator Kate Dyck equated science fiction fans with sports fans — a group of people who are passionate about something and some of whom happen to like dressing up and painting their faces.
"Sports is just more socially acceptable," she said. "But here you get someone who may not come out of their basement all year, but here they are social. They find acceptance and something they love."
That love included more than a dozen writing panels, discussions of the music "Supernatural," a "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" musical sing along, costume how to sessions, showings of various popular episodes and filking (folk music, usually with a scifi or fantasy theme).
Even the stars found common ground with fans and connected through the genre.
"It’s an excuse to come and hang out," said Dohring, a fan of science fiction movies like "Bladerunner" and "Star Wars" and who filled his weekend with a variety of photo and autograph sessions as well as question and answer periods. "These guys come and you get to meet like-minded people and that’s one of the better qualities about these is you get to sit around and talk with friends and people who are interested in similar things."
Dohring fielded a number of questions from a contingent of adoring fans hoping to revive the recently-cancelled "Moonlight." The group informed him of a billboard in Burbank, Calif., ads on taxi cabs and subways in New York City as well as a letter-writing campaign coordinated through www.moonlight-united.com in hopes of getting a movie or miniseries continuation of the franchise.
"I think we would do that," Dohring said. "But they haven’t told us anything so right now we’re auditioning and trying to get other work, so ... let’s do it soon."
A number of fans asked David-Lloyd, whose character is in a same-sex relationship on his show, what it was like to kiss his co-star, John Barrowman.
"It was a work up to it, actually," said David-Lloyd. "For the first kiss, I was unconscious. That was probably the most nerve racking. It’s a scene where he kisses me and I was revived after being thrown across the Hub ... I close my eyes and it was a kiss, not a snog. ... At the end of the season, series two episode three and by that stage I was snogging. That was only one take."
"I was terrified, but within a day, you relax because he is such a big character, touching everyone up all the time," said David-Llyod. "In situations where you don’t expect, (Barrowman) will do a prat take or try to throw you, making faces or getting his bollocks out in the way when you’re in a very tight close up and you expect him to make everyone laugh, it makes you a little bit terrified when you have to do scenes where you have to kiss him... (but) those are the scenes where he’s pretty well behaved," said David-Lloyd. "I was nervous (during the first kissing scene). I was very very nervous, but he was very professional. ... I kept waiting for him to do something like grab my ass but he didn’t."
"Torchwood" has taken on the topic of same sex relationships but David-Lloyd feels that it is a non-issue for the series.
"I think the attitude of both the shows is that the mindset is that (sexuality) is no longer an issue," David-Lloyd said. "That’s what the whole thing was trying to project. There should be no controversy."
The departure of two major cast members in the last season, Burn Gorman (Owen Harper) and Naoko Mori (Toshiko Sato) wasn’t revealed to the rest of the cast until near the end.
"It was their decision, by Burn and Naoko to tell us ...We all were shocked, it came out of nowhere. It was just as surprising to us as it was to the fans. The emotions at the end were very real," recalled David-Lloyd.
For more information on Polaris Convention, click here.
Check back later this week for yet more Polaris goodies...
-Mariah and Chandra
We've fled the country!
That's right - your faithful entertainment bloggers have left the States and headed to Polaris Convention, a fan-run scifi/fantasy gathering in Toronto, Canada. We packed our bags and left Ohio Friday for some Canadian geek love all weekend long.
The first item on our agenda was the Blast-Off Party, an exclusive event where a limited number of attendees get to mingle with all the multi-day guests.
The Blast-Off Party was like being a band geek waiting for the prom queen to do the rounds, if the prom was a smoking hot scifi actor or two. It was fun and everyone was amazingly nice, but I was definitely feeling the high school vibe.
I wandered off to flirt with some Stargate fans in hopes of free drinks, but nothing. And still the boys kept to the far side of the room with the more rabid fans.
Fortunately Chandra knows how to get things done and managed to accidentally whine to the right people (Monique, the head of autographs, and Monique, the convention chair), who then made it their mission to drag Gareth and Jason over for our obligatory expensive moment of interaction with stars.
Gareth David-Lloyd, who is just stunning enough to make my heart go pitter-patter, wandered by first. From this British import, we learned:
- An accent will forgive nearly any sin and takes men from cute to swoon-worthy
- Everyone wants to know what it was like to kiss John Barrowman
- He hasn't seen "Bruce Almighty"
- He'll be guesting at San Diego Comic Con and meeting up with friends during the appearance. We gave him the skinny on New York Comic Con and plenty of warnings about how not to get killed by crazy fans or mobbed by comic book geeks, but he may still be in trouble
Things I Learned in six minutes about Jason Dohring:
- He's as not tall as I thought he was (seriously, I had him at 6'5" or so in my head, but he only towered over me a little)
- He's heading a little more mainstream. Apparently getting beloved projects canceled over and over again is less than fun and he's hoping to reach a wider audience
- What a levy is and how that's not going to save the world
- Chandra doesn't shut up (kidding!). But she did get Jason talking about social issues and the plight of Northwest Ohio (for those not in the know, Jason was born in Toledo - though he moved away at age 3) and how Jason could fix things. Don't think I'm not writing your manager, man.
- Rich people are weird. Okay, not weird, but very different from you and me. Jason was planning to visit the nanny who helped raise him while in Toronto. Very sweet that he would go see her, but I believe he's the first person I've met who had a nanny and told me about it.
- I'm not as fangirl as I thought I was and Chandra is not a fangirl at all (despite all efforts to the contrary). Of our little group, we were the only ones who talked (one of us more than the other, but) and it was a serious conversation with no squeeing.
Things I learned from the two second drive-by by Ellen Muth:
- She drinks fast
- She runs faster
Today we have press conferences, photos, Q&As and all sorts of fun stuff with the above celebs, as well as authors Tanya Huff and Kelley Armstrong.
- Mariah (with comic assistance from Chandra)
Imagine if everyone left the Earth and someone forgot to turn off the last robot. That's the premise of the engaging and visually stunning computer-animated flick, Wall-E, the latest from Pixar Animation, which brought us "Ratatouille," "The Incredibles" and "Toy Story."
The year is 2700 and the titular Wall-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth Class) is a robot built to clean up the Earth, which has become a stark wasteland, and has spent his time since humans fled making little cubes of trash, developing a quirky little personality. He spends his days following his programming along with his roach friend, Hal (get it, Hal Roach) and collecting little treasures – lighters, sporks, rubber toys – until a new robot arrives to scout planet Earth for signs of life, EVE (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator).
With minimal dialogue beyond beeps and blips and sci-fi sounds, the two fall in love. Well, Wall-E falls in love.
Wall-E surrenders one of his sacred possessions, a tiny plant, which triggers EVE's programming and sends her back to her space station.
Wall-E has to make the decision whether to stay in his world or chase the girl of his dreams. WALL-E – a romantic robot who endlessly rewatches two numbers from "Hello Dolly:" the big, bright dance number "Put on Your Sunday Clothes," and the romantic love song, "It Only Takes a Moment" every night after work -- takes his chances to follow EVE aboard Axiom, a giant luxury liner in space carrying all the humans, who have been lounging around for centuries, waiting to return to Earth.
The station is populated both by a legion of robots and the descendants of those who populated Earth that they serve. Thanks in part to the hand-and-foot service of the robots, humans have become massive, flabby beings with tiny, almost-vestigial limbs. They move about the space station in moving recliners equipped with screens, in their own virtual worlds, avoiding human contact.
The computerized powers at the station regard the plant as proof that Earth is ready to be re-colonized. Unfortunately there's someone who doesn't want to go back and the conflict ensues.
At the heart of it, this is a love story. Set in space. With robots.
This movie is more than the sum of its parts. The love story is sweet to the point of saccharine, but still manages to pull at the heart-strings. There is never a moment in which the audience isn't rooting for Wall-E and his simple hope of a hand held. Our sweetly bedraggled hero's slapstick wooing efforts keep the laughs coming even as the heart is breaking.
But, even more important for an animated movie, the visual elements of this movie are majestic and overwhelming. The camera moves like a real one – with zooms, pans, foreground shots, background details – everything you'd find in live action – and gorgeous. The movie takes us from a devastated Earth to the brilliant stars. The amount of detail takes the breath away and is worth the price of admission just to take in a fraction of the splendor. It's worth a second or a third admission, too.
As Wall-E's cherished song goes, it only takes a moment to fall in love and any moment from this movie will do the trick.
It's Pixar, which means I automatically get to add my two cents (one cent after taxes). This movie really is a treat for the eyes. The opening sequence is amazing - just the scope and size of an entire city filled with towers of trash is something to behold.
True, it's definitely got a strong enviromental message, but that pretty much takes a back seat to our two little robots blossoming romance. The story is solid and fun, drawing laughs and tears at the same time. This is, and probably will be, one of the year's best films.
And on a side note, stay for the credits. The visuals of man's "re-evolution" of civilization is shown in wonderfully rendered artwork that mimics the ages: Egyptian, Greek, Pop Art, etc. Very cool!
Spy comedies were never really a wildly popular type of flick until a certain 'shagadelic' agent came along and turned the genre around. Since then we've had agents like Codi Banks, the Spy Kids and even a film based on the TV series I Spy. But long before any of these characters came along, a sophistcated, debonair super spy was keeping the world safe.
No, not that Bond guy. I'm talking about Maxwell Smart, the gadget saavy, snappy dialogue-spewing agent who reappears in one of this summer's most hyped films Get Smart. But since Don Adams has since passed, this time around Max's shoes (or shoe phones) are filled by Steve Carrell. And would you believe the results aren't bad?
Our story opens in Washington, where a museum exhibit assures the public that CONTROL, the former super spy organiztion that kept the nation safe for years, was disbanded after the Cold War. But little do they know that CONTROL is alive and...well, so-so, since the organization seems to be made up of two cliques: the agents who go on secret missions and live an exciting lifestyle and the analysts who build the spy toys and pour over hours of information. Analyst Maxwell Smart (Carrell) has just taken his spy competency test, hoping to step out from behind his desk and into the field.
He gets his chance when CONTROL headquarters, along with the identities of all their agents, are compromised by the terrorist organization KAOS. The only other agent still undercover is Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway), a skillful and deadly femme fatale who ends up being paired with the newly-promoted Smart. They're sent to Russia to try to stop KAOS from using atomic weapons to ransom the globe. Hilarity ensues.
While the movie relies more on slapstick-style laughs and less on witty dialogue (unlike the TV show), it's easy to see that the actors are really getting into their roles and having fun with them. Carrell and Hathaway have a nice chemistry behind them, while Dwayne Johnson (The Rock, for you wrestling fans) plays a fun/confident dashing super spy and friend to Max. Terrence Stamp is cold and ruthless as the villain Siegfried, but constantly surrounded by his less-than-bloodthirsty henchmen Shtarker (Ken Davitian) and Dalip (Dalip Singh). Even the bit parts of analysts Bruce and Lloyd (Masi Oka and Nate Torrence) lend themselves to a few laughs. But to me, the biggest surprise came in the form of Alan Arkin as The Chief. A fiery old timer, Arkin breathes life into what could have been a bland role, flying an airplane with obvious skill and even fist-fighting the Vice President. Plus, with cameos by James Caan, Bill Murray and Patrick Wharburton, it's easy to see that this movie has talent.
Be forewarned, though: if you're looking for a remake of the TV show, keep walkin'. While the characters are fairly similar, the script has been updated and the jokes can be hit or miss. Carrell's Smart is bumbling but far from dumb - most of his antics are simply counterintuitive to the situation but somehow (almost) always work. While his use of gadgets is here, he only uses the trademark shoe phone once. And when Carrell gives voice to Maxwell Smart's famous catchphrases, they sound a bit forced.
But even with its flaws, the film is a fun one and worth the price of a movie ticket. While the script is simply okay, the talented stars end up carrying the film the rest of the way and, let's face it, in the case of Get Smart, you can't exactly expect Shakespeare.
A perfect summer film? Missed it by that much!!!
Dear Parents in the Back Row:
I know that "The Incredible Hulk" sounded like a really cool movie. It sounded so awesome that I decided to go see it. But I didn't think it sounded like a cool movie for your two-year-old.
But, hey, I'm not a parent, why do I know? If you think violence and sex are appropriate viewing material for your little one, it's really not my concern (at least, it won't be until your bundle of joy becomes a ward of the state and my tax dollars are fixing the damage done in his/her formative years).
Your poor parenting techniques unfortunately became my problem a little early when the toddler in question started around the first chase scene through Rio de Janiero. The mewling was a little distracting, but hey, I had some yelling of soldiers and big booms to cover it up.
When the screaming continued upon Bruce Banner's recovery from the latest "incident," I had about five minutes allotted for you to a) settle him/her down or b) remove her from the theater. I paid a solid $7.50 to enjoy my Hulk in peace and quiet. Well, not peace and quiet, but with no children crying to distract me from the Edward Norton goodness.
And I tried, I really tried to ignore the constant whimpers and intermittant screams from the back row. I did. I don't want to be the witch who stands up in the middle of the theater to scream at the nice young family behind her (actually, I did, but - unlike you- I care about what people think of me).
When the crying kept it up and you took her halfway down the stairs, I was thrilled. She stopped and we had a good 10 minutes of uninterrupted Hulk SMASH!
And then the cry started again. I waited a whole 15 minutes for you to haul the kid away before I implemented swivel head and laser stare of death. So you're return glare was a little out of line, doncha think?
Thirty minutes, three big fight scenes and one love scene later, our talkative little toddler obviously didn't like Ed's take on the comic book and kept the whole crying thing to a steady wail. Out of respect for her opinions, maybe that would have been a good time to leave. I know that eating a $7.50 movie ticket would probably suck, but try to have a kid without such discerning tastes, okay?
Since s/he stopped her catterwauling just in time for Robert Downey Jr.'s cameo, so obviously s/he's up for the crossover event.
If I could ask for a small favor, could you please let me know which showings of "Wanted" and "Hancock" you'll be bringing our burgeoning movie critic to, so I can plan ahead accordingly that would be great.
The last time we saw the Hulk, he was knee deep
in psychodrama and daddy issues, a study in the psychology of stress
and dual natures."The Incredible Hulk" is a little less introspective. Or, as
better summarized by the titular hero, "HULK SMASH!" The story leaps
in alongside "Hulk," closer to a remake than a sequel. Explained in a
nifty, wordless opening sequence, Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton)
undergoes his tragic lab accident and subsequently fleeing General
"Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt) and his military grunts, all the
while pining for his lady love, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler). The movie
leaps to the streets of Rio de Janiero, Brazil, a lush setting begging
to be filmed, with broad panoramas. Banner has been hiding out in this
gorgeous filming locale, trying to cure himself of the mutation and
staying under the radar of the General, who is trying to capture the
scientist and wants to abuse his powers for war. The arrival of a military strike team,
led by Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), prompts an "incident" and we see the
Hulk for the first time. One of the best cinematic decisions here is
not to show all of the Hulk immediately. The audience sees glimpses,
green in the shadow and clear tells of the monster unleashed by Banner,
but not the money shot. It teases the audience and gets excitement up. Upon
Banner's return to civilization, he seeks out his true love, Betty, and
the data that promises an antidote. The General and his military
forces, including a genetically altered Blonsky, pursue him and the
Hulk emerges. Repeatedly. Blonsky's military experiments
ultimately get out of control and he transforms into The Abomination, a
nightmarish beast of pure adrenaline and aggression who poses the only
real threat to the Hulk. The rest of the movie descends into a good,
old-fashioned comic-book style fights with big green monsters pounding
each other into the pavement, crashing helicopters, using police cars
as boxing gloves and ripping apart New York City rooftops. This
movie managed to satisfy both of my cinematic personalities — the
hopeless romantic and the bang 'em up, comic book-fan, action fiend. The
romance between Banner and his lady love, Betty, is the classic monster
and the maiden tale and made me want to swoon every time she looked
into his poor angst-ridden eyes, his looming green presence and loved
him anyway. It's the kind of love the average person dreams of, but
it's particularly poignant as beauty embraces a true beast. The only
thing this needed was more. What is going to bring most people
in, however, is the smash and bang of two huge brutes tearing it up.
Metal flies, bodies break and CGI monsters go toe-to-toe. The beats
aren't great and the tension doesn't really fly until the final fight
sequence, but it's classic Marvel-style. The movie, of course,
left several gaping holes for sequels, including a synergistic
appearance by Robert Downey, Jr. The cameos by Stan Lee and Lou Ferigno
also add a bit of the "squee" factor to the movie and left me grinning
at the screen. With decent action and a sweet romance, "The Incredible Hulk" isn't quite incredible, but it's still a ragin' good time.
The story leaps in alongside "Hulk," closer to a remake than a sequel. Explained in a nifty, wordless opening sequence, Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) undergoes his tragic lab accident and subsequently fleeing General "Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt) and his military grunts, all the while pining for his lady love, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler).
The movie leaps to the streets of Rio de Janiero, Brazil, a lush setting begging to be filmed, with broad panoramas. Banner has been hiding out in this gorgeous filming locale, trying to cure himself of the mutation and staying under the radar of the General, who is trying to capture the scientist and wants to abuse his powers for war.
The arrival of a military strike team, led by Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), prompts an "incident" and we see the Hulk for the first time. One of the best cinematic decisions here is not to show all of the Hulk immediately. The audience sees glimpses, green in the shadow and clear tells of the monster unleashed by Banner, but not the money shot. It teases the audience and gets excitement up.
Upon Banner's return to civilization, he seeks out his true love, Betty, and the data that promises an antidote. The General and his military forces, including a genetically altered Blonsky, pursue him and the Hulk emerges. Repeatedly.
Blonsky's military experiments ultimately get out of control and he transforms into The Abomination, a nightmarish beast of pure adrenaline and aggression who poses the only real threat to the Hulk. The rest of the movie descends into a good, old-fashioned comic-book style fights with big green monsters pounding each other into the pavement, crashing helicopters, using police cars as boxing gloves and ripping apart New York City rooftops.
This movie managed to satisfy both of my cinematic personalities — the hopeless romantic and the bang 'em up, comic book-fan, action fiend.
The romance between Banner and his lady love, Betty, is the classic monster and the maiden tale and made me want to swoon every time she looked into his poor angst-ridden eyes, his looming green presence and loved him anyway. It's the kind of love the average person dreams of, but it's particularly poignant as beauty embraces a true beast. The only thing this needed was more.
What is going to bring most people in, however, is the smash and bang of two huge brutes tearing it up. Metal flies, bodies break and CGI monsters go toe-to-toe. The beats aren't great and the tension doesn't really fly until the final fight sequence, but it's classic Marvel-style.
The movie, of course, left several gaping holes for sequels, including a synergistic appearance by Robert Downey, Jr. The cameos by Stan Lee and Lou Ferigno also add a bit of the "squee" factor to the movie and left me grinning at the screen.
With decent action and a sweet romance, "The Incredible Hulk" isn't quite incredible, but it's still a ragin' good time.