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This week at the movies was no time to cross anything green.
Whether chlorophyll-filled or gamma ray-induced, green was mean and out to get you.
You could probably make a strong case that writer/director M. Knight Shyamalan used up all his political capital with the American movie-going public about two or three films ago, but after the horrendous “The Happening” it’s safe to say that we’re fed up with the Shyamalan hustle.
He’s not Rod Serling. There’s more hum-bug than horror in the wunderkind’s flicks and this reviewer is tired of walking out of one of his films feeling like he just paid 25 bucks to see the “Fejee Mermaid.”
You know you’re in trouble when in the first 10 minutes of the movie a classroom of teenage know-nothings tosses out the “secret” to the entire tepid tale.
Mark Wahlberg strains hard portraying a smart, level-headed high school science teacher named Elliott Moore trying his darnedest to figure out why everyone in the northeast is suddenly bent on cashing in their chips. He should’ve just listened to the kids in his class.
Suffice it to say that Moore and his small band of survivors basically spend most of their time running away from – grass.
Shymalan’s scariest shot is an empty field whipped up by an off-camera wind machine.
The director of “Signs” and “Lady in the Water” seems to know you can only get so much horror from the sod so he employs Betty Buckley as freaky old hermit to juice up the spookiness level.
It’s way too little and too late, however.
Marvel’s green goliath packs a heck of a lot more punch. “The Incredible Hulk” plays like a middle of the road comic book issue that raps up with a granddaddy of a final panel.
Edward Norton and the rest of the cast are fine in their roles and ‘ol jade jaws looks more like himself and less like a pumped up version of Gumby this time around.
In this installment of the Hulk we’re introduced to a new super-villian called the Abomination (Tim Roth) and another high-caliber bad guy to be named later. Comic book enthusiasts will spot him right away.
There’s nothing here that should have sent Edward Norton running for the hills and refusing to do press for the film.
The Hulk smashes and things explode – and Marvel continues to lay the groundwork for future character crossovers on film.
The crowd booed when the end credits rolled for “The Happening.” “The Incredible Hulk” left them hooting and hollering for more – which makes it a shame that the filmmakers still haven’t gotten the most out of a comic book movie.
In the books the rampaging Hulk is his own man who actually hates Dr. Bruce Banner and his puny human weakness. So, far what we’ve seen on screen is an amped up version of the good doctor.
For one thing, the Hulk talks. He may not be the most urbane and loquacious dude at the party, but he does speak his mind. In the Hulk’s second adventure on the big screen he speaks just once – an obligatory “Hulk smash!”
As in the case of Daredevil, Fantastic Four and the rest of the Marvel crew, the cinematic Hulk needs better writers.
But he’s still a heck of a lot more fun than watching grass grow.
“The Happening” is rated R. Runtime 91 minutes. “The Incredible Hulk is rated PG-13. Runtime 1 hour, 54 minutes.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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