New on store shelves, Bruce Banner gets green with rage in The Incredible Hulk, the iconic Sin City comes to Blu-ray, Ben Stein gets opinionated in Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, there is Guy Maddin‘s all-Canadian film My Winnipeg, plus lots more.
The Incredible Hulk
Marvel keeps churning out the superhero movies, and audiences keep lining up for more. This time out it’s all about the big green dude with the temper as Edward Norton stars in the reboot of The Hulk, which naturally chooses to ignore pretty much everything that happened in the first, disastrous film.
This time out Norton is Dr. Bruce Banner, the scientist afflicted with an alter ego who can crush buildings, and withstand bullets. The opening sequence explains how Banner got zapped with the big, green problem, that now has him running from the U.S. government, not to mention the woman he loves. Hiding out in Brazil, a freak little accident gives his new home away to the army, who quickly move in to take him in. William Hurt co-stars as the wretched General Ross, who not only misled Banner into believing he was working on something that would help soldiers heal more quickly, but is now hunting him down to recreate the experiment so he can make a whole army of super soldiers.
Tim Roth plays Special Forces officer Emil Blonsky, who quickly wants to do whatever he can to bring down Banner, while Liv Tyler is Banner’s love, Dr. Elizabeth Ross.
From front to back, The Incredible Hulk is a fun, action-packed battle royale. Norton is a very good Banner, bringing the character’s geek appeal to life, and making good use of that haunted look we have seen him use in so many films.
But the special effects, which are obviously the core element in a film like this, leave something to be desired at times. On a story level alone, Iron Man was one of the best superhero movies, but that movie also used a lot of in-camera effects that make the film feel very realistic. The Incredible Hulk does have some good special effects, but our green monster, and his adversary, rarely look much better than plasticy action figures. It’s a deal breaker for me, and even though I believe they’re wrecking havoc, I didn’t buy them as anything more than computer generated cartoon characters.
Drawing on the comic’s rain-soaked, noir world, the film is practically a perfect translation, bringing to life the stories of Goldie, Jackie Boy, and of course, Marv. Starring Mickey Rourke as the unbeatable Marv, Bruce Willis as Hartigan, and Jessica Alba as Nancy, the film criss crosses between three crime stories on the streets of Sin City.
The genius of the film lies not only in the cinematography, which looks at every moment like a frame from the comic book, but also in the gritty characters, and the otherworldly, vibrant stories snatched from an ultra-violent film noir.
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
Ben Stein, who only really seems to be known for playing the droning teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day off, offers up a documentary this week that ponders the complexities of intelligent design. This concept is essentially a scientific way of explaining the existence of a higher power, and has apparently cost some scientists their jobs, as Stein’s film suggests.
Stein interviews scientists, travels the world, and looks for answers of a sort, but critics are quick to point out that the film is merely a shallow cover for an opportunity to browbeat an idea into viewer’s heads. Much like other recent documentaries, which merely presents one side of a debate, Expelled is therefore a definite hard sell.
“This film is an appallingly unscrupulous example of hack propaganda and it sucketh mightily,” Liam Lacey wrote for the Globe and Mail. “What’s more, I didn’t laugh once.”
From director Guy Maddin, who brought us The Saddest Music in the World, comes My Winnipeg, the director’s love letter to his boyhood home town. As a kind of mock documentary, the film chronicles aspects of Maddin’s real life childhood with fantasy, and stories of Winnipeg that are strange and riveting. The film has received great reviews, but is definitely far out, and just a little weird.
“This haunting phantasmagoria of a film – comic, singular, surreal – is not only something no one but the Canadian director could have made,” Kenneth Turan wrote for the Los Angeles Times, “it’s also a film no one else would have even wanted to make. Which is the heart of its appeal.”
Also available on DVD this week…
Sold Out: A Threevening with Kevin Smith
Bask in the glory of Kevin Smith with his latest appearance, talking about his life and his most recent films. This time out, Kevin’s show takes him to his home town to talk about Clerks II, his appearance in Live Free or Die Hard, and of course, all the other weird moments in his life.
Diary of the Dead
Horror director George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead comes to Blu-ray with the tale of film students who discover that the world is suddenly overrun with zombies. Taking a leap back to the first night when the dead walked again, Romero’s most recent film is an entertaining hack-’em-up that could use some fresh blood, but still manages to be more than a little entertaining.
The guys behind the successful documentary Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey are back, and this time Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn are headed to the Middle East, Asia and South America in search of more metal music fans. What might surprise some people is that there is definitely a whole subculture for metalheads, even in these sometimes troubled parts of the world, and the fans are apparently taking what they want from the music and using it to speak up.
This Beautiful City
And in Ed Gass-Donnelly’s film, This Beautiful City, five people come face-to-face with the ugly side of life at the bottom of the barrel. Rich meets poor, and desire meets violence, and their lives will never be the same again.
Stephen Cole of the Globe and Mail called This Beautiful City “a scathing though not unfeeling depiction of West Queen West, the slowly gentrifying Toronto neighbourhood that real-estate agents would generously describe as an ‘artist community.'”
New television on DVD this week…
Pick up the first season of the horrifically unfunny According to Jim, the entire series of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. or the classic 80s series, Knight Rider, or one of sci-fi’s greatest, the original Outer Limits.