Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Review: The Incredible Hulk

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Movies,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:12 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

Yes, I saw The Incredible Hulk Friday night.

But, I swear, I am not a hardcore movie or comic book geek. It was just coincidence that my buddy and I went to see this on opening night. Honest.
In a nutshell, The Incredible Hulk was a good movie. Not as good as Iron Man but way, way better than the last Hulk movie directed by Ang Lee. He may be a great director, but he just doesn’t understand American comic books. This movie, however, was better than average. And, from here on out, the spoilers are rampant, so if that bothers you, stop reading.

The movie starts with Bruce Banner in the slums of Brazil, hiding from both his green alter-ego and General “Thunderbolt” Ross and the U.S. military. He’s shown working with a martial artist learning both self-defense and how to control his emotions in an attempt to rein in the chaotic Hulk. (Incidentally, the martial arts instructor is “played” by Rickson Gracie, a world famous jiu-jitsu fighter and instructor.) Then, during the opening credits, they pay homage to the Incredible Hulk TV show, by showing a different version of the Hulk’s origin which, amazingly enough, blends both the old movie and the new version together quite well. The opening credits also have design documents from Stark Industries, referencing the Iron Man movie and highlighting Marvel’s brilliant strategy of crossing their movies over a bit for some built-in self marketing.
Of course, it doesn’t take long before Banner, played quite well by Edward Norton, runs into problems both with some local toughs and General Ross’ team of commandos. The end result? Here comes the Hulk, naturally. Well, Banner “Hulks out” and ends up several countries away in Guatemala, when he wakes up from his Hulk induced blackout. Naturally, he decides to keep heading North through Mexico to get back into the US where he hopes to retrieve the data from his old experiment that made him the Hulk to aid him in his quest for a cure. Naturally, this brings him back in contact with his old flame, Elizabeth Ross, played by Liv Tyler. Frankly, I don’t care for her as anything but an elf or a video vixen in her daddy’s videos. She is easily the weakest part of this movie. Well, as you might have guessed, old Thunderbolt Ross is there, watching and waiting for Banner. This time, though, he’s got more than just commandos to help him capture the good doctor. He’s got a full array armament, including a pair of sonic cannons that are fairly cool. Oh, and he’s given his pet commando, Emil Blonsky, played by Tim Roth, a super-soldier serum to make him, well, super.
Of course, Banner Hulks out again, and gets away, but this time he takes Betty Ross with him on the run. They try to find the scientist who’s been helping Banner find a cure, armed with the data for which Banner has risked all this trouble.

Well, I won’t tell you all the secrets in this movie, in case you plan on seeing it, but, I do have a couple more cool things to look out for. First, let me remind you of the Stark Industries reference to last month’s Iron Man movie. Also, there’s a cameo by Robert Downy Jr., aka Tony Stark, during a bar scene that also ties into Iron Man and the upcoming Avenger’s movie.
Naturally, there’s also a cameo by Stan Lee, Hulk creator and comic book legend. He plays a regular guy who drinks some tainted South American soda and, unfortunately, expires from gamma radiation poisoning. But, as always, his cameo is fun and funny.
Also, there are numerous tie-ins to the rest of the Marvel universe, which is very cool. In fact, there are many setups for a second Hulk film as well as the other references to recent and upcoming Marvel films that I’ve already mentioned.
I was disappointed that they edited out the Captain America cameo. Not sure where it was supposed to be, but it seems like a number of things that we were shown in early trailers and previews got trimmed or cut completely. Oh, well, at least it didn’t take anything away from the movie.
Oh, and don’t forget to look for a cameo by Lou Ferrigno, who played the original TV Hulk, as a security guard.

One small criticism, though, is the CG. You’d think it’d be the last thing I’d complain about, right? I mean, I’m total CG fan, sure, and the more realistic it is, the better I like it, but they almost go too far on the Hulk. He’s a little more than “real”, I think. I don’t know how much time they spent on it, but I think they spent a little too much time. Sometimes, less is more and I think this is one of those times. Or, at least, the should have spread the CG budget around a bit and used the effects on something other than the Hulk. I definitely think that the CG in Iron Man was better but, honestly, it’s only a minor thing.

So, in short, to sum up, The Incredible Hulk was good. Not as good as Iron Man, but better than Ang Lee’s version. Well worth seeing, especially if you’re a comic book fan.
Now, go see it!


Review: Iron Man

Filed under: Art,Fun,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:15 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw Iron Man Friday night.

I love comic books and used to read lots of them on a regular basis. Iron Man wasn’t one of those I followed, but he was such a big part of the Marvel Universe that he was more than a “blip” on the radar of comic fans. The movie was great.

First of all, what’s not to love about a millionaire-playboy who’s also an engineering geek? An early scene shows him blowing off an engineering awards ceremony to play craps in Vegas while flirting with hot chicks. Oh, and did I mention he’s a bit of an alcoholic? They don’t play this up much in the movie, but there’s enough of it there from the comic book to add an extra dimension to
Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark and makes him an interesting character. Also, it doesn’t hurt that Downey is a recovering addict himself.
And, as someone else pointed out in one of the many, many reviews of this movie, they actually show Stark doing engineering design work! How cool is that? I’m betting there were some geeks in the audience that would have really liked to have his customized CAD environment. True 3D? Voice activated with interactive, touch-based controls? It made me want to design something.

But, don’t forget, this was an action movie! Boy howdy was it! It starts off with Stark getting captured by terrorists in the desert, jumps to a flashback to show us how he got there, then switches back to the terrorists who are forcing him to build a missile for them, like he designed for the U.S. military. Instead, he builds the Iron Man v1.0 suit from scraps. Naturally, he uses it to break out of his desert cave prison and return to the “civilization” of the West Coast Hollywood military industrial complex. And, of course, he’s a changed man. He vows to stop building weapons and promises to use his amazing engineering powers for good, not evil. Sadly, his partner in the business has other ideas. So, while Tony is falling in love with his gorgeous assistant, Pepper Potts, played by the “ow-it’s-so-bright-it-hurts-my-eyes” beautiful Gwyneth Paltrow, Obidiah Stane, his erstwhile partner, played by Jeff Bridges, goes into the desert to recover the abandoned Iron Man v1.0 armor.
Naturally, an epic battle ensues, but I’ll leave the rest for you to see in the movie.

Let me add, though, that the special effects were fabulous. The technology was spot on and absolutely believable. Robert Downey, Jr. was a totally believable Tony Stark and, frankly, was the perfect choice for this film. He was brilliant. Rumor has it that there’s already talks of an Iron Man 2. I hope so!
Also, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, stay all the way through the credits. There’s a cameo at the end which sets up both Iron Man 2 and the long rumored Avengers movie. I think it happens to be a crossover from the latest Hulk movie, too, though I’m not positive about that. Yet.
Oh, and look for a very funny cameo by Stan Lee playing a Hugh Hefner-like character! Go Stan! Excelsior!

In short, if you’re a comic book fan or a science-fiction fan, you absolutely need to see this movie!

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