The Incredible Hulk (2008)

I’m going to set the record straight right off the bat.  I prefer the 2003 Ang Lee-directed Hulk movie to this one.  There are notable tonality differences in the two films, as the first one is much more of a “real movie” whereas the second one is a better “HULK SMASH” movie.  Not everyone will agree with me.  In fact, most Marvel fanboys will completely disagree with me, but whatever, everyone’s got their own opinions.  I also think that is the weakest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films released so far, and I don’t think too many people will disagree with me on that.

Playing the part of Bruce Banner this time is Edward Norton, taking over the role that Eric Bana played in Hulk.  And for The Avengers, it was switched a third time to Mark Ruffalo, which is completely acceptable.  Norton plays a decent enough Banner, but didn’t really strike me as I don’t know, maybe miserable enough to fully capture how much Banner disliked losing control and turning into the other guy.

I don’t really have too much to say about this movie.  It did its job well enough, while also furthering the Marvel Cinematic Universe storyline and getting Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) in an end credits scene to push The Avengers further to the forefront.  There are numerous call-aheads to Captain America as well as developing a potential future villain with the mutation of Dr. Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson).  However, if they end up making a third Hulk film, the question is whether or not they just “requel” it again or actually make it a full-on sequel.

As it is, for full enjoyment of the work that Marvel Studios has done in crafting their Cinematic Universe, you should definitely see the movie.

3 / 5

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The Avengers (2012)

I have to admit, I’m a bit jealous.  See, I’m not a Marvel Comics fanboy and the success that their high quality movie versions of their characters are enjoying makes me – a DC Comics fanboy – insanely jealous.  See, I know that if there ever were to be a Justice League movie, well DC Comics would have to have some sort of alternate (read: inferior) version of Batman, because it’s quite clear that the Christopher Nolan Batman isn’t in a world populated with heroes.  And while I enjoyed Green Lantern there are loads of others that didn’t.  Not to mention how every Superman movie that has come out since Superman II has been pretty craptacular.  Marvel went and signed Joss Whedon to direct The Avengers, so there went the best hope for any Wonder Woman movie, and there aren’t even any rumours that I’ve heard about a Flash movie.  So yeah, super jealous because DC can’t get their cinematic shit together.  Moving on.

In the next couple days, my reviews for the rest of the movies that are part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be posted (except Captain America, as that one was already posted) and what you’ll find is that they’re all pretty damn good movies.  For the most part.  The sum of them all is The Avengers, and honestly, you couldn’t find a better director than Joss Whedon to helm this ship.  Whedon has an affinity for the characters that he’s been reading for decades, and if we’ve learned anything from Whedon’s fanbase, it’s that he can make us feel in a way that most directors/writers take for granted.  When Wash dies in Serenity, he wasn’t the only who felt like they’d been impaled, and that was because of the heart that Whedon instills in his characters.  So the whole time watching Avengers, I was wondering which ancillary character was going to bite the dust so we could truly feel like This Means Something.

Another trademark Whedon-ism is the wry sense of humour that characters have in the face of insurmountable odds, and that humour is very much evident throughout the entire film.  I’m pretty sure every character, from Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) to Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) hell, everyone of them gets a laugh in the movie.  Of course, front and centre is the most fleshed character out of the Avengers team (so-far), Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), but this movie isn’t his.  It’s not Captain America’s (Chris Evans) or Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth).  In fact, I think that the Big Bad of the movie, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), might have had more screen time than anyone else.

The movie doesn’t really have to waste time with showing the origin stories of all these heroes, because they have their own series, just like in the comic book world.  It’s the story of a bunch of combustible elements coming together to form a super power to combat the end of the world.  Honestly, I would have to say that this is the greatest comic book movie of all time, and that’s mostly because I think the Christopher Nolan Batman films can actually hold their own as non-comic book movies.  The Avengers movie and the Marvel Cinematic Universe has a lot of fanboy pandering to them, but it’s all great popcorn, summer blockbuster fun.  The Nolan Batman films, well they’re exploring areas outside of the comic books with the implication that they take place in a very realistic world.  Nolan’s Batman would never be in the Justice League.

Anyways, The Avengers is pretty much what any comic book nerd dreams of: the action on the screen taken directly from the pages of their comic books.  The heroes they love, the villains they hate, they’re all expertly interpreted into a new medium and it’s a goddamn great movie.  I don’t even think you’d need to see the other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to completely enjoy the movie, but they would certainly add more depth to the experience.  Also, the 3D was much like Toy Story 3, not invasive and all OMG LOOK IT’S 3D so I strongly recommend seeing it in a theatre when you can.

5 / 5

I Love You, Man (2009)

One of the things that I truly love about the so-called Frat Pack or Apatow’s Army or whatever the hell label you want to put on them, is that the large group of actors work with each on project after project and give little throwaway parts to their friends and the entire cast feels like an enormous ball of fame.  I mean, there’s a ridiculous amount of tagged actors for this movie.  Granted, I go a bit crazy with the tagging, and a few of them weren’t really well-known (or known even) back in 2009, but here we are in 2012 and I’d say that the massive audience that watches “Big Bang Theory” weekly knows who Melissa Rauch is.  Anyways, enough about my attempts to get more hits.

I totally have a man crush on Paul Rudd.  I probably write that in every Paul Rudd review that I write (okay, I only have one for Our Idiot Brother so far, well now two I guess), so you’re going to have to get used to it because I think I might go on a Rudd streak here.  Dude’s been in so many good movies, and movies that have been made better just by the sheer presence of him.  Anyways, he plays Peter Klaven, a somewhat introverted wonderfully lovable guy who proposes to his girlfriend, Zooey (Rashida Jones) almost directly after the opening credits.  However, it comes to light that Peter doesn’t really have any close guy friends, leading to the premise of the movie: find Peter a guy friend!  Soon he meets the blunt and charmingly honest Sidney Fife (Jason Segel), and they totally hit it off and Peter’s life undergoes radical changes.

No matter my predilection towards Rudd, I will still be honest and tell you if a movie he’s in sucks or not.  I totally disliked Wet Hot American Summer when I first saw it, but now I’m wondering if I missed something there.  May have to revisit that one sometime.  Anyways, this is a charming and awkward comedy, with Rudd and Segel bouncing off one another wonderfully.  Lots of funny moments from the rest of the massive ensemble-ish cast and it’s a feel-good movie in my books, though I will say that some audiences might just not fall in love with the characters the way I did.  They all know their roles and play their parts to perfection though, no matter if they have to look like a huge asshole doing it, right Jon Favreau?

3.5 / 5