Archive for Tim Roth

The Hateful Eight

Posted in Action/Adventure, Drama, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In Quentin Tarantino’s stylish Western set in post-Civil War Wyoming, eight travelers stranded at a stagecoach way station — including bounty hunters, outlaws and former soldiers — become enmeshed in a duplicitous plot as a savage blizzard rages outside.

What people are saying:

The Hateful Eight is a parlour-room epic, an entire nation in a single room, a film steeped in its own filminess but at the same time vital, riveting and real. Only Tarantino can do this, and he’s done it again” 4 stars

“The closing scene, amidst harrowing brutality, is poetically powerful and is without a shadow of a doubt, Tarantino’s crowning achievement as an auteur” 5 stars

“While this movie is definitely worth watching, even at nearly three hours in length, I found it too mannered and self-indulgent to give it any more than three stars. I realize that Tarantino likes to pay homage to his favorite old movies, but sometimes he overdoes it. For example, the lighting in the interior scenes is extremely unrealistic, and I’m sure that was done on purpose because it makes it resemble those old movies. But let’s all remember that they lit scenes that way not because they wanted to but because the technology at the time did not allow them to do it in the more realistic way that we are now able to do. Oh, and then there’s the unnecessary narration that jumps in well after the movie has begun. A silly affectation, at best. But if you do watch it, you will certainly enjoy the many fine performances. I especially got a kick out of Jennifer Jason Leigh.” 3 stars

“Pure Trash! Filthy, nasty language-none of it necessary. I don’t believe people talked liked this during this time period. Overuse of the “n” word. Loads of blood and gore which was totally unnecessary as well. It is like the producer is trying to cover up how awful the story is by splashing blood, guts, and gore around. Very slow moving and it looks like the actors/actress cannot deliver timely lines. You are led to believe it is a movie about the Civil War but it turns out to be about a gang out west. Writer definitely wants to deliver a huge negative bias on Southerners by building a belief that these are post-Confederate soldiers gone wild, but in the middle of the film you learn they are an unlawful gang in the West. He leads the viewer to believe the woman had ties to the Confederacy but it turns out she is the sister to the lead gang member who has come to save her from hanging. I was thoroughly insulted and would not recommend this movie to anyone. ” 1 star

“Crossing a Whodunit with a Western, ‘The Hateful Eight’ is full of completely over-the-top violence and profane language, so much so that it is almost laughable – it’s undoubtedly a Tarantino film. With a running time approaching 3 hrs, there are more than a few lulls and an absurd amount of (unnecessary) dialogue, but with its beautiful cinematography and rising tension, there’s always something going on and it’s never truly boring. The biggest problem here is that it’s in need of some serious editing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining providing you’re not put off by Tarantino’s ridiculous style.” 3 1/2 stars

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The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

English gangster Albert Spica has taken over the high-class Le Hollandais Restaurant, run by French chef Richard Boarst. Spica makes nightly appearances at the restaurant with his retinue of thugs. His oafish behavior causes frequent confrontations with the staff and his own customers, whose patronage he loses, but whose money he seems not to miss.

Forced to accompany Spica is his reluctant, well-bred wife, Georgina, who soon catches the eye of a quiet regular at the restaurant, bookshop owner Michael. Under her husband’s nose, Georgina carries on an affair with Michael with the help of the restaurant staff. Ultimately Spica learns of the affair, forcing Georgina to hide out at Michael’s book depository. Boarst sends food to Georgina through his young employee Pup, a boy soprano who sings while working. Spica tortures the boy before finding the bookstore’s location written in a book the boy is carrying. Spica’s men storm Michael’s bookshop while Georgina is visiting the boy in hospital. They torture Michael to death by force-feeding him pages from his books. Georgina discovers his body when she returns.

Overcome with rage and grief, she begs Boarst to cook Michael’s body, and he eventually complies. Together with all the people that Spica wronged throughout the film, Georgina confronts her husband finally at the restaurant and forces him to eat a mouthful of Michael’s cooked body. Spica obeys, gagging, before Georgina shoots him in the head.

REVIEW:

Young Helen Mirren is a goddess, and there wasn’t much of a drop off as she has aged like a fine wine. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, & Her Lover is one of the showcases of what she was capable of at a young age, not to mention giving us a film that we just don’t these days in this politically correct society.

What is this about?

Tired of her barbaric husband, the wife of a crime boss engages in a secret romance with a bookish patron between meals at her husband’s restaurant.

What did I like?

Barbaric. In today’s world, when a film comes out that has anything remotely violent, there is always some sort of group just ready to pounce. I can only imagine the field day they would have with this one where Michael Gambon’s character physically and verbally abuses everyone he comes into contact with, especially Helen Mirren’s character, whom he makes sure everyone knows she is his property. Hard to believe that some 40 or so years later he’ll become kindly old wizard, Dumbledore.

Helen. Dame Helen Mirren is not only a vision of loveliness, as always, but she strips down, showing her natural (and quite impressive) curves a few times as she has some fun with “her lover”. More importantly, though, is the fact that for most of the film she says little to nothing, but when it is time for her to speak, well, she isn’t one of the greats for no reason, I’ll put it that way. Her final soliloquy, for lack of a better term, is quite moving and sets up what she has to do quite nicely.

Beautiful. While the lighting is quite dark, I couldn’t help but notice how beautifully shot this film was. Everything from the costumes, to the food, dishes, etc. Obviously, this is more of an “artsy-fartsy” type of film, and the setting and scenery reflect that, but man alive is it beautiful.

What didn’t I like?

Sadist. Maybe I’m just so used to Gambon playing nice, “grandfather” type characters, but this thief guy he played was a real piece of work. Not only did he boss everyone around without remorse, but he took pleasure in torturing and killing his victims, as well as slapping around Helen Mirren’s character. For film purposes, he worked, but on a personal level, I despise and detest him.

Food. It would appear that this is a formal restaurant which serves haute-cuisine. Thing about that, though, is that for all we know they could have been serving gruel or dirty bath water. I’m not saying this needed to have the same kind of food budget or cinematography as Chef, but it would have been nice to see some of the actual food, even if was being messed up by certain acts going on in the back of the kitchen by Mirren and “her lover.”

Full frontal. This is going to sound very hypocritical of me, especially after praising Helen Mirren’s nude form, but I was not a fan of full frontal scenes that involved Alan Howard’s character. Kudos to the guy for having the bravery to film those scenes, of course, but I just wasn’t a fan. Maybe it is just me not wanting to see a naked guy, as opposed to a naked woman, though.

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, & Her Lover is one of those films that feels like it should be something more than it is. What I mean by that is this could very well have been done as a play on a stage for much less money, so why not do it that way, rather than subject us to 2 hours that cannot be recovered. I did not receive any enjoyment from this film. As a matter of fact, there were times when I was downright uncomfortable. As such, I do not recommend this, but I will say that this isn’t a bad picture. It just wasn’t for me.

3 out of 5 stars

Revisited: Pulp Fiction

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The Diner
“Pumpkin” (Tim Roth) and “Honey Bunny” (Amanda Plummer) are having breakfast in a diner. They decide to rob it after realizing they could make money off the customers as well as the business, as they did during their previous heist. Moments after they initiate the hold-up, the scene breaks off and the title credits roll.
Prelude to “Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace’s Wife”
As Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) drives, Vincent Vega (John Travolta) talks about his experiences in Europe, from where he has just returned: the hash bars in Amsterdam, the French McDonald’s and its “Royale with Cheese”. The pair—both wearing dress suits—are on their way to retrieve a briefcase from Brett (Frank Whaley), who has transgressed against their boss, gangster Marsellus Wallace. Jules tells Vincent that Marsellus had someone thrown off a fourth-floor balcony for giving his wife a foot massage. Vincent says that Marsellus has asked him to escort his wife while Marsellus is out of town. They conclude their banter and “get into character”, which soon involves executing Brett in dramatic fashion after Jules recites a baleful “biblical” pronouncement.

Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace’s Wife

The “famous dance scene”:[12] Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) do the twist at Jack Rabbit Slim’s.
In a virtually empty cocktail lounge, aging prizefighter Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) accepts a large sum of money from mobster Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames), agreeing to take a dive in his upcoming match. Vincent and Jules—now dressed in T-shirts and shorts—arrive to deliver the briefcase, and Butch and Vincent briefly cross paths. The next day, Vincent drops by the house of Lance (Eric Stoltz) and his wife Jody (Rosanna Arquette) to purchase high-grade heroin. He shoots up before driving over to meet Mrs. Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) and take her out. They head to Jack Rabbit Slim’s, a 1950s-themed restaurant staffed by lookalikes of the decade’s pop icons. Mia recounts her experience acting in a failed television pilot, “Fox Force Five”.

After participating in a twist contest, they return to the Wallace house with the trophy. While Vincent is in the bathroom, Mia finds his stash of heroin in his coat pocket. Mistaking it for cocaine, she snorts it and overdoses. Vincent rushes her to Lance’s house for help. Together, they administer an adrenaline shot to Mia’s heart, reviving her. Before parting ways, Mia and Vincent agree not to tell Marsellus of the incident.
Prelude to “The Gold Watch”
Television time for young Butch (Chandler Lindauer) is interrupted by the arrival of Vietnam veteran Captain Koons (Christopher Walken). Koons explains that he has brought a gold watch, passed down through generations of Coolidge men since World War I. Butch’s father died of dysentery while in a POW camp, and at his dying request Koons hid the watch in his rectum for two years in order to deliver it to Butch. A bell rings, startling the adult Butch out of this reverie. He is in his boxing colors—it is time for the fight he has been paid to throw.

The Gold Watch

Butch flees the arena, having won the bout. Making his getaway by a cab, he learns from the death-obsessed driver, Esmarelda Villalobos (Angela Jones), that he killed the opposing fighter. Butch has double-crossed Marsellus, betting his payoff on himself at very favorable odds. The next morning, at the motel where he and his girlfriend, Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros), are lying low, Butch discovers that she has forgotten to pack the irreplaceable watch. He returns to his apartment to retrieve it, although Marsellus’s men are almost certainly looking for him. Butch finds the watch quickly, but thinking he is alone, pauses for a snack. Only then does he notice a machine pistol on the kitchen counter. Hearing the toilet flush, Butch readies the gun in time to kill a startled Vincent Vega exiting the bathroom.

Butch drives away but while waiting at a traffic light, Marsellus walks by and recognizes him. Butch rams Marsellus with the car, then another automobile collides with his. After a foot chase the two men land in a pawnshop. The shopowner, Maynard (Duane Whitaker), captures them at gunpoint and ties them up in a half-basement area. Maynard is joined by Zed (Peter Greene); they take Marsellus to another room to rape him, leaving a silent masked figure referred to as “the gimp” to watch a tied-up Butch. Butch breaks loose and knocks out the gimp. He is about to flee when he decides to save Marsellus. As Zed is sodomizing Marsellus on a pommel horse, Butch kills Maynard with a katana. Marsellus retrieves Maynard’s shotgun and shoots Zed in the groin. Marsellus informs Butch that they are even with respect to the botched fight fix, so long as he never tells anyone about the rape and departs Los Angeles forever. Butch agrees and returns to pick up Fabienne on Zed’s chopper.

The Bonnie Situation

The story returns to Vincent and Jules at Brett’s. After they execute him, another man (Alexis Arquette) bursts out of the bathroom and shoots wildly at them, missing every time before an astonished Jules and Vincent return fire. Jules decides this is a miracle and a sign from God for him to retire as a hitman. They drive off with one of Brett’s associates, Marvin (Phil LaMarr), their informant. Vincent asks Marvin for his opinion about the “miracle”, and accidentally shoots him in the face.

Forced to remove their bloodied car from the road, Jules calls upon the house of his friend Jimmie (Quentin Tarantino). Jimmie’s wife, Bonnie, is due back from work soon and he is very anxious that she not encounter the scene. At Jules’ request, Marsellus arranges for the help of Winston Wolf (Harvey Keitel). “The Wolf” takes charge of the situation, ordering Jules and Vincent to clean the car, hide the body in the trunk, dispose of their own bloody clothes, and change into T-shirts and shorts provided by Jimmie. They drive the car to a junkyard, from where Wolf and the owner’s daughter, Raquel (Julia Sweeney), head off to breakfast and Jules and Vincent decide to do the same.
Epilogue
As Jules and Vincent eat breakfast in a coffee shop the discussion returns to Jules’s decision to retire. In a brief cutaway, we see “Pumpkin” and “Honey Bunny” shortly before they initiate the hold-up from the movie’s first scene. While Vincent is in the bathroom, the hold-up commences. “Pumpkin” demands all of the patrons’ valuables, including Jules’s mysterious case. Jules surprises “Pumpkin” (whom he calls “Ringo”), holding him at gunpoint. “Honey Bunny” (whose name turns out to be Yolanda), hysterical, trains her gun on Jules. Vincent emerges from the restroom with his gun trained on her, creating a Mexican standoff. Reprising his pseudo-biblical passage, Jules expresses his ambivalence about his life of crime. As his first act of redemption, he allows the two robbers to take the cash they have stolen and leave, pondering how they were spared and leaving the briefcase to be returned to Marsellus, finishing the hitman’s final job for his boss.

REVIEW:

The film that put Tarantino on the map, no disrespect to his previous outings, was Pulp Fiction. Nothing of its kind had been seen up to that point, and truth be told, nothing like it has been done successfully since then, save for imitators and parodies (remember Plump Fiction?)

What is this about?

Weaving together three stories featuring a burger-loving hit man, his philosophical partner and a washed-up boxer, Quentin Tarantino influenced a generation of filmmakers with this crime caper’s stylized, over-the-top violence and dark comic spirit.

What did I like?

Throwback. While this film may have been set in modern times (early 90s), it had a definitive retro vibe to it in terms of filmmaking, which can be attributed to Tarantino’s love of cinema. There are subtle hints to classic films all over the place, I won’t bother to mention them for fear I’d be here all day, but they are there. I even recently read in a variety of sources that Bruce Willis was cast because “he had the look of a 50s era actor”.

Quotes. I’m sitting here watching this and e-mailing my best friend quotes back and forth. Yes, there are tons of films that are quotable, but those in this picture just seem to be on a different level.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been messing around with someone and then suddenly go all Jules on them when they say what. Watching the first  season of American Horror Story, everytime the “rubberman” came out, I couldn’t help but say “bring out the gimp”! Ah, good times….good times!

Soundtrack. If you read my review for Django Unchained, then you may recall my disdain for the use of some of the music in there at inopportune moments that didn’t quite fit the tone of the picture. That isn’t a problem here. As a matter of fact, I believe this may be Tarantino’s best work with the soundtrack cues. The opening scene with the transition from Dick Dale’s “Misirlou” to Kool & the Gang’s “Jungle Boogie”, complete with radio static is a masterful piece of paying attention the small details that ends up being very well appreciated by the audience, and that’s just the start of what turns out to be some great old school. In college, I often would just pop in the tape, yes I said tape, and enjoy. Man, I wish more films would have a soundtrack as enjoyable as this one, the kind that has a little something for everyone.

Look who it is. Up to this point, John Travolta had largely disappeared from public view. I believe he had done a few films that flopped, but this is responsible for rejuvenating his career, and rightfully so. That is not to forget some of the other stars in here, with the exception of Willis and to an extent Jackson, weren’t household names at the time.

Violent comedy. As with most Tarantino films, there is plenty of violence to go around. Truth be told, I think this probably his most family friendly flick. Also, the moments of comedy sprinkled in here and there add in a nice flavor that is much appreciated, especially with some of the heavy stuff that the film can get into, particularly the last act/chapter.

What didn’t I like?

Weinsteins. I was reading how the Weinsteins pretty much wanted every role, with the exception of Keitel’s, to have gone to someone else. For instance, Vincent Vega, which was originally supposed to be Michael Madsen’s Vic Vega from Reservoir Dogs (which I will be revisiting at some point in the future), they wanted to be played by Daniel Day-Lewis, for Ringo, they wanted Johnny Depp or Christian Slater, and for Mia Wallace, they wanted Meg Ryan or Holly Hunter. Jules was written with Jackson in mind, but it almost went to someone else, Paul Calderon, who coincidentally plays the bartender. Not knowing how these choices would have worked, I can’t say if it was good or bad, but you be assured that they wouldn’t be the same which, in turn, may have affected not only how we view this film, but Tarantino’s whole career.

Shuffle. I’m torn on this, because on the one hand the nonlinear story line makes this picture unique, on the other hand, if this your very first time watching, or if you don’t pay attention, you could be totally confused as to what the hell is really going on. Just a matter of personal preference and/or taste, I suppose.

Marvin. Poor Marvin, he gets his head blown off. Two things about this. First, why was Travolta turned around with a loaded gun pointed at his face in the first place? Second, and this may just be me, but does it just seem that Marvin was there for the sole purpose of being shot in the face? He really serves no other purpose. I bring this up, because he is supposed to be the inside man at the place where the briefcase is, but all he seems to do there is open the door. I almost want to say they should have given him something more to do in order to make him more of a sympathetic character when his face gets blown off.

Jackrabbit slims. I’ve done my research on this. As of the time I’m writing this, there are no Jackrabbit Slim’s restaurants that actually exist, at least like the movie. There are a few here and there, but I don’t know if they are the same. The closest thing to this that is around is a place called Johnny Rocket’s. Man, I really wish someone would open a real life Jackrabbit Slim’s. I’d be there every night (probably in the Jayne Mansfield or Gene Kelly sections)! That isn’t a shot against the film, just something about the culture it has created.

As Pulp Fiction drew to a close, I was truly saddened. Not because something broke my heart, but because a good film had to end. I guess that old adage is true, “all good things must come to an end”. I highly recommend this to everyone, but be warned. A real good friend of mine in college said he could never finish it. I’m not sure why that was, whether it was the violence, language, or what, but it just goes to show you that as great as this film is, it isn’t for everyone. At any rate, if you haven’t checked this out already, then you really should!

5 out of 5 stars

Reservoir Dogs

Posted in Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film opens to eight men eating breakfast at a diner. Six of them wear matching suits and are using aliases: Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Mr. Blue (Eddie Bunker), Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), and Mr. White (Harvey Keitel). Among them is middle-aged Los Angeles gangster Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney), and his son, “Nice Guy” Eddie Cabot (Chris Penn). Mr. Brown discusses his comparative analysis on Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”, Joe’s senior moments involving his address book rankle Mr. White, and Mr. Pink defends his anti-tipping policy until Joe forces him to leave a tip for the waitresses.

After the opening credits, the action cuts to the interior of a speeding car. Mr. White, driving with one hand, is trying to comfort a hysterical Mr. Orange, who has been shot in the abdomen and is bleeding profusely. They arrive at an abandoned warehouse, later revealed to be the rendezvous point for the armed robbery they have just committed. Mr. White leaves Mr. Orange on the warehouse floor when Mr. Pink appears, angrily suggesting that their robbery of a jeweler, orchestrated by Joe Cabot, was a police-setup. Mr. White reveals that Mr. Brown has been shot and killed by the police, and the whereabouts of Mr. Blonde and Mr. Blue are unknown to both. A flashback is played, revealing more of Mr. White’s long-time friendship with Joe Cabot.

The two men discuss the actions of the sociopathic Mr. Blonde, who murdered several civilians after the jeweler’s alarm had triggered; the police arrived at the scene remarkably soon after the alarm was activated. Mr. White is angered about Cabot’s decision to employ such a psychopath and agrees about the possibility of a setup, while Mr. Pink confesses to having hidden the jeweler’s diamond cache in a secure location. However, they violently argue about whether or not to take the unconscious Mr. Orange to a hospital when Mr. White reveals that he had told the former his true first name. Mr. Blonde, who has been watching them from the shadows, steps forward and ends their Mexican standoff, telling them not to leave the rendezvous as Nice Guy Eddie is on his way. Mr. Blonde takes them outside to his car and opens the trunk to reveal he captured a police officer named Marvin Nash (Kirk Baltz). A second flashback reveals that Mr. Blonde became involved in Cabot’s heist team because of his friendship and loyalty to Eddie.

The three men torture the officer until a furious Eddie arrives at the warehouse. After berating the men over the carnage and incompetence displayed at the heist, he orders Mr. Pink and Mr. White to assist him retrieve the stolen diamonds and dispose of the hijacked vehicles, while ordering Mr. Blonde to stay with Nash and the dying Mr. Orange. Nash states that he has been a police officer for eight months and is ignorant as to a possible setup. He then pleads with Mr. Blonde to release him without further incident. However, after the others leave, Mr. Blonde confesses to enjoying torture, at which he turns on the radio and dances to “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel before severing Nash’s ear with a straight razor. He then retrieves a large gasoline can from the trunk of his car and is about to set Nash alight when Mr. Orange, having regained consciousness, produces a handgun and repeatedly shoots Mr. Blonde. Mr. Orange tells Nash that he is actually an undercover police detective named Freddy Newandyke, and reassures him that a massive police force is in position several blocks downtown waiting for Joe Cabot to arrive.

A series of flashback scenes detail Mr. Orange’s involvement in an undercover operation to capture Cabot, culminating in a sequence depicting the death of Mr. Brown as he attempts to drive Mr. White and Mr. Orange away from the jewelry store, and Mr. Orange’s shooting a woman who shot him in the stomach as he and Mr. White attempted to steal her car.

The remainder of the heist group returns to the warehouse to find Mr. Blonde dead. Mr. Orange claims that Mr. Blonde was going to kill Nash, Mr. Orange and the rest of the gang so that he could take the diamonds for himself. Eddie doesn’t believe the story and, furious with Mr. Orange, fatally shoots Nash three times. Joe Cabot himself arrives and, after informing the group that Mr. Blue was killed, confidently accuses Mr. Orange of being an informant, forcing Mr. White to defend his friend. A shootout ensues, leaving Joe and Eddie dead, Mr. White severely wounded, and Mr. Orange mortally wounded. Mr. Pink, who avoided the shootout, takes the cache of diamonds and flees the warehouse. As police sirens and gunshots are heard outside, Mr. White cradles Mr. Orange in his arms and Mr. Orange reveals that he is in fact a detective. Mr. White kills Mr. Orange as the police raid the warehouse, resulting in the police killing Mr. White.

REVIEW:

Quentin Tarantino’s gritty directorial debut took the world by storm and as much as it is revered, it is also mimicked. You know what they say about imitation, it is the highest form of flattery.

I’m not exactly sure why this is called Reservoir Dogs. As far as I can tell, there was nothing about a reservoir or water even mentioned. Maybe I missed something.

Each of the “dogs” is given the name of a color to go by. Mr. Pink, Steve Buscemi, is none to happy about being pink, and in a way that he is known for, whines and makes a big to do about it.

Harvey Keitel, Mr. White, is the team’s compassionate, level headed veteran, who is none to happy about the way the events of the bank heist unfolded. Not to mention he feels responsible for Mr. Orange, Tim Roth, being shot as they were trying to get away.

Mr. Blonde, Michael Madsen, is, in my opinion, the best character, is apparently responsible for the diamond heist falling apart, due to his shooting up the place like a psychopathic, trigger-happy, maniac. Not exactly sure why he’s called Mr. Blonde, though, since he has dark hair. His torture scene with the cop is one of the best in film, though. What makes him such a great character is that he is a soft spoken, calm guy. Those are always the worst kind, aren’t they?

The thing about Tarantino’s films is that are visually stunning, graphically violent, very well-made, have some sort of homage to days gone by, and these are all good things, but the drawback they seem to have is that they seem to talk themselves to death. I mean, I was expecting lots of shooting and whatnot in this film, but instead it was like watching some sort of play on stage….nothing but talking. Aside from the excessive chatter, this wasn’t a bad film. I think it could have used a bit more action, but that goes back to the talking thing. Watch and enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

The Incredible Hulk

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A montage during the opening credit sequence details the film’s backstory and the origin of the Hulk. General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt) meets with Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton), the colleague and lover of his daughter Betty (Liv Tyler). He wants him to revive a World War II-era military bio-force project, but tells Banner the goal of the experiment is to make human beings immune to gamma radiation. The experiment fails, transforming Banner into the monstrous Hulk (voiced by Lou Ferrigno), and injuring Betty. Now a fugitive from the United States Army, Banner has been on the run for five years.

As the film opens, Banner works at a soda bottling factory in Rocinha while searching for a cure for his condition (through analyzing the properties of certain rare, Amazonian plants and herbs) with the help of a colleague on the Internet, known only as “Mr. Blue”. He is also learning meditative breathing techniques from a martial arts expert (Rickson Gracie) to help regulate his pulse rate and keep his anger under control, and has not transformed in 158 days. After Banner cuts his finger, a drop of his blood ends up in one of the bottles, and is eventually ingested by an ill-fated consumer (Stan Lee) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This accident points Ross to Banner’s location and he sends a team, led by Russian-born British special ops expert Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), to capture him. Banner escapes Blonsky by transforming into the Hulk and fighting off his team inside the bottle factory. After Ross explains how Banner first became the Hulk, a vengeful Blonsky agrees to be injected with a new super soldier serum, which gives him enhanced speed, agility, reflexes, endurance and healing.

Meanwhile, Banner returns to Culver University (where the Hulk was born) in Virginia and reunites with Betty, who is dating psychiatrist Leonard Samson (Ty Burrell). On the day he decides to leave, Ross and Blonsky’s forces attack Banner at Culver University to draw out the Hulk, having been tipped off by the suspicious Samson. The Hulk wins the battle and flees with Betty. After he calms down, Banner and Betty go on the run. After several stops, Banner again makes contact with “Mr. Blue”, who urges them to travel to New York City to meet him. He turns out to be cellular biologist Dr. Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson), a college professor. They learn that Sterns has developed a possible antidote that may cure Banner’s condition, or merely reverse each individual transformation. After a successful test, Sterns reveals that he has synthesized Banner’s blood sample (which he sent from Brazil) into a large supply with the intention of using it to enhance the human condition to the next evolutionary level. Appalled by what Sterns had done and fearful of the Hulk’s power falling into the wrong hands, Banner attempts to convince Sterns to destroy the blood supply, but he is attacked by Ross’ forces and taken into custody with Betty.

While Sterns is interrogated with a female soldier about his work, Blonsky strikes her down and demands Sterns to inject him with Banner’s blood sample. Sterns warns that the combination of the supersoldier formula (which Blonsky has overdosed on, mutating his skeleton) and a gamma treatment would be an unpredictable combination that could turn him into an “abomination” (voiced by Tim Roth). Unconcerned, Blonsky forces Sterns to administer the gamma charge, and he mutates into a powerful monster. He knocks Sterns aside and escapes, rampaging through Harlem to draw the Hulk out. At the lab, an irradiated sample of Banner’s blood-derivative drips into an open wound on Sterns’ temple, causing his cranium to mutate and expand.

Banner, realizing that he is the only one who can stop the monster, convinces General Ross to release him. He falls from Ross’ helicopter as it hovers over the city, hoping the fall will trigger a transformation. Banner’s plan succeeds, and after a brutal battle, the Hulk defeats Blonsky by nearly strangling him to death with a huge chain, relenting his grip only after Betty’s plea. The Hulk then flees. Thirty-one days later, Banner is in Bella Coola, British Columbia. Instead of trying to suppress his transformations, he is attempting to initiate them in a controlled manner. As his eyes turn green, a grin appears on his face. Meanwhile, General Ross is drinking in a bar when he is approached by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) who reveals that a “team” is being put together.

REVIEW:

Hulk was an alright film, but The Incredible Hulk was leaps and bounds above it. That’s not to say that it isn’t without its flaws, though, and there are parts of Hulk that I liked, but this one was just more enjoyable and not so cerebral.

Edward Norton takes over the role as Bruce Banner/Hulk and for the most part does a decent job. I really like how he actually brought some life to Bruce Banner, something that Eric Bana didn’t do, but that may be because he had better material to work with.

Liv Tyler is beautiful as always, although she doesn’t get much to work with here other than just being eye candy, but that’s typical Betty.

William Hurt is a downgrade from Sam Elliott as General Ross. I’m sorry for all of you out there that are deluded in thinking he did better. Sam Elliot just worked better. Hurt seemed out of place.

Tim Roth was surprisingly good as Emil Blonsky. I was impressed.

I really like how this film made some simple homages to the TV series, such as playing the walking music near the beginning and having Lou Ferrigno voice the Hulk.

The scene where Banner and Betty are getting all hot and heavy and then have to stop because he can’t get too excited was just awkward. I’m not sure if it was because of the situation or because we all wanted to see more of Liv Tyler, or because it didn’t seem to fit.

Hulk looked pretty good, but for me, I prefer the previous version. I realize they were going for a more “realistic” look and all, but not everything has to be so damn real. Also, that Hulk grew as he got madder, this one stayed the same size throughout the whole film. Also, watching him walk was a bit funny. It looked like he clonking around with shovels on his feet or something.

There are two characters that were alluded to and we may see if a sequel is ever greenlit. Doc Sampson and the Leader, not to mention the groundwork for the forthcoming Avengers  film.

A beef I have with this film is the final fight scene. It seemed like a mix between the final fight in Iron Man and Transformers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just wish they would have thought of something more original.

Yes, in case you can’t tell, I really liked this film. It’s not perfect by any means, but it was very enjoyable, unlike its predecessor which almost bored me to tears. There’s plenty of action, no unnecessary scientific mumbo jumbo (although with Hulk, it is expected), and the pace moves along quite nicely. You’ll really enjoy this film, and all but forget about that other version.

4 out of 5 stars