Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Super Buddha Man!

It's all superheroes all the time in this outing with Mr. B. Man!

The Incredible Hulk  (Universal, 2008) After director Ang Lee's Hulk underwhelmed in 2003, Marvel put the green giant in stasis while they worked out just how to make a Marvel movie that would hit on all cylinders. Five years later, they decided the world had been Hulk-less long enough, and turned the property over to director Louis Leturrrrieririreierrier with one directive: "Reboot!" Thankfully, they then hired Edward Norton to play Bruce Banner (nothing against Eric Bana - but as will be seen - EN brought a little more to the game). As he is wont to do, Norton promptly set about doing a rewrite on the script. One lovely plus to this (besides the gentleman's writing talent) - Edward Norton is a big fan of the 1970's The Incredible Hulk TV show - with the wonderful Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno wandering America and taking turns coming to set. So, Norton and Letiurrrireireir (oh all right - Leterrier) properly decided together to pay tribute to the series in several ways, far trumping Ang Lee's two second Ferrigno walkby, Stan Lee notwithstanding. Norton the writer brings some serious drama chops to the comic book story - but not so much that he forgets the main guy has to regularly turn green and break stuff. And Norton the actor is well cast, with a nice air of Bixbyness. 
Goodbye Jennifer Connelly, hello Liv Tyler. Adios Sam
Elliot, greetings William Hurt.

He's also supported by a fine cast of replacements for the cast from the 2003 movie and some fine new co-stars like Tim Blake Nelson (The Good Girl) and Ty Burrell (TV's Modern Family). So, with a very solid script on the table the story picks up with Bruce Banner hiding out in South America, quietly working off the grid and very surreptitiously teaming with an online pal named Mr. Blue to find a cure for his predicament. Eventually, events will occur that bring Bruce back to America - where he spends time with Betty Ross (Liv Tyler - Empire Records) while dodging her father General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt - Altered States) and the United States military under Ross's command, including aging tough guy soldier Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth - Pulp Fiction). Thanks to several bad decisions by several characters, there will soon be a new gamma irradiated beastie walking the Earth - the Abomination - and the brawl for it all is on!

Somehow both bashers find top ropes to come off of in Harlem...
I thoroughly enjoyed this Hulk flick - after dozing off during the 2003 movie - how did it end anyway? (Don't worry - I bought a used DVD somewhere cheap - and will plunge in again and make it all the way through one of these days.) It's not a perfect movie - but it gets more right than its predecessor did, starting with those very welcome nods to the TV show - the Hulk transformation here begins with the same crazy greenish-white eyes effect; 
Bixby Hulking out up top;
Norton transforming on bottom.
the name David Banner gets rolled out with a wink; Joseph Harnell's haunting TV theme music is heard; the gamma machines seen in the opening look very much like the ones from the series; Fort Johnson is named for series producer Kenneth Johnson; a clip from The Courtship of Eddie's Father featuring Bill Bixby is seen on a television; and Lou Ferrigno turns up as another security guard, but gets more screen time and a little comedy this time out, AND he gets to perform the voice of the Hulk! They even manage a nod to the 60's Hulk cartoon by casting Bruce Banner's voice - Paul Soles - as an old pizza guy Bruce knows from way back. Let's keep listing the positives: there are scads of references to the comics throughout, including names like Richard (Rick) Jones and Jim Wilson; this film takes place during the same time period as Iron Man 2 - events from this movie play as a live news report in the background of a Tony Stark/Nick Fury scene in IM2;  and Hulk co-creator Stan Lee turns in a really sweet cameo that actually has The Man playing a part in the story! Of course, there are some negatives too, but mainly just the one: the Hulk is still CGI here - and although he looks better than he did five years previously, I'm still not sure pure computer effects was the way to go. Since both the Hulk and the Abomination are achieved with this method, the final twenty minutes of the movie does once again resemble a cut scene from a Hulk video game, but the battle is well handled for all that, with scads of property destruction and big comic book style bashing throughout. Summing it all up -  if you're into the Marvel comics movie series that started with Iron Man and continued through IM2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and culminating in the The Avengers - you'll probably want to check this one out, as it is another piece in that filmic mosaic, if a little disconnected from them due to the main character's isolation. It also includes a cameo from the other movies, although maybe not the one you expect. In any case, watch through the end credits for sure. In the end, anyone who likes a little superhero action mixed with a lot of destructive rampaging should definitely check this one out!

Superargo  (Izaro Films, 1968)  Imagine (if you can) one Italian film that manages to be "inspired by" (aka ripoff) three different and divergent 60's pop culture phenomena! Yes, that's Superargo! He's a dubbed former professional wrestler (ala the Mexican wrestling movies starring Santo and Mil Mascaras) turned superhero (ala TV's Batman) and spy (ala James Bond)! 

Like the Mexiheroes, he has no secret identity, but runs around 24 hours a day in red tights and black Lone Ranger mask! Wow! And here he's battling the scientific genius who's surgically turning kidnapped athletes into silly looking "electronic men" since the word "cyborg" hadn't been invented, and the phrase "cyborg guys with silly metallic junk on their heads" was already taken by the boy band. (You remember cgwsmjoth, right? They had that hit "I've Never Been a Pair of Dice, But I've Been a Flea"?)

It's the car, isn't it? Chicks dig the car...

But I digress.
Anyhoo, wait until you see Superargo's car, which looks like a rolling Ginsu commercial when you push the right buttons! Funny stuff! And well worth a watch for those who like a heavy dollop of ludicrous in their filmic coffee cup!

That will retire our movie watching capes for this time. And please always remember - if Superargo's tights weren't bulletproof, he'd be dead now.


  1. The Incredible Hulk was really good to me and Superago looks hilariously bad Craig.

    1. You pegged both of them - there are apparently scads of Superargo movies out there - but I've only seen the one. I need someone to do a nice 10 or 20 movie boxset of them for a bargain price. And while I'm wishing - good prints, and anamorphic widescreen please.

  2. I loved this Incredible HUlk and could not stand the first one. Why? Because Ang Lee tried to give serious drama and angst to a Marvel hero minus the campy fun. Bruce Banner is NOT Jane Austen. Then there's Jennifer Connolley, who routinely puts me to sleep. The woman is BORING like Eva Green as the uber-dull Vesper in Casino Royale. These two actresses should team up for an Ambien ad.

    I will most definitely have to check Superargo. It looks a like cheesy delicious good time.

    1. Yeah - the Ang Lee Hulk blows. Maybe I'll sell my used copy back. I don't need to watch it. Ouch! Jennifer is (or was - keepin' it real) some serious eye candy back in the day - but i'm indifferent to her acting. Eva Green was okay for me - but we know we disagree in that area... ;)

      I would adore seeing a big Superargo post over at TheMovie411!

  3. cgi backgrounds I need someone to do a nice 10 or 20 movie boxset of them for a bargain price. And while I'm wishing - good prints, and anamorphic widescreen.