Mr. Movie

Hulk has a little more going for it this time

Ang Lee's 2003 semi-live action Hulk was lambasted by critics and fans. Most complaints centered on the cartoony CGI-generated Hulk when star Eric Bana hulked-out.

Marvel Comics decided the Hulk got a raw deal and gave it another shot.

Like Hulk, The Incredible Hulk has Edward Norton hulking out and transforming into an equally cheesy and very noisy Hulk.

So what's the difference?

Though I didn't hate Lee's version, the story, acting and effects are a little better this time. Norton adds dimensions to Bruce Banner that Bana could not. Interesting shades also come from the film's other class-A actors. William Hurt is terrific as Gen. Thunderbolt Ross, the man who sees a military advantage in an army full of hulks.

Liv Tyler is the beauty that contains the beast. She, too, had me eating out of her hands.

For 1 1/2 hours, The Incredible Hulk is entertaining. Then the villain, played by Tim Roth, morphs into a two-dimensional character better suited to a panel-at-a-time comic book. He takes the rest of the movie along with him.

Hint to director Louis Leterries (both Transporter films): In the obvious sequel, make sure everybody has as much fun as Tim Blake Nelson doing the semi-mad scientist. Bulk up The Incredible Hulk with more of that and it will -- indeed -- be incredible.

Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars.

Rated PG-13 for mature themes, violence. Opens today at the Columbia Mall 8 and at the Fairchild 12.

The Happening

Ma nature has had enough and causes an "event" that gets people to kill themselves or others in creative ways. Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel and John Leguizamo are characters that join the throng of humanity trying to escape the inescapable.

What they and the other characters encounter is creepy with a capital C and proof that M. Night Shyamalan is a master of horror.

There are times in The Happening when your skin crawls. Things pop out at you from stage left or right punctuated by this loud sound or that. You will jump out of your seat. The movie is definitely freaky.

Early on The Happening shows promise. Shyamalan hasn't, however, conquered storytelling. His sophomoric script is uncomfortably clumsy and the dialogue laughable. With nothing more solid than iffy environmental disasters to hang his disquieting theories on, The Happening doesn't happen.

Mr. Movie rating: 2 1/2 stars.

Rated R for mature themes, violence. Opens today at the Columbia Mall 8 and at the Fairchild 12.

Young at Heart

Experts on aging say keeping the brain active helps you live a longer, healthier, happier life. Though most would agree that activity is healthy, this probably isn't what they have in mind.

Bob Cilman is the director of the Young at Heart Chorus. The average age of his group is 81 years. And like their moniker, they are young at heart. They love to sing, and the idea that music keeps them young is the driving force behind Stephen Walker's wonderful documentary. The repertoire of the chorus stretches from James Brown to Allen Toussaint (Yes We Can Can) to Sonic Youth.

It's as awful as it sounds, but the chorus rocks with such enthusiasm and such verve that from the opening scenes to the end, you will be tapping your toes and tempted to sing along.

You will laugh until tears come to your eyes. And you will cry. Movies rarely move me or touch my heart like Young at Heart. I encourage you to let it touch yours. These men and women celebrate life in a most unique way.

That celebration is, to date, the year's best movie.

Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars.

Rated PG for some mature themes. Opens today at the Carmike 12. Son of Rambow

Son of Rambow is set in the 1980s. Two polar opposite kids find adventure and friendship while making their own version of Rambo. One is a rich, troubled child ignored by his jet-setting mom and being raised by a jerk brother. The other belongs to a religious sect that doesn't allow contact with children outside the church.

The film is a tad slow in spots and takes a bit too long to get going. But once the action ramps up, Son of Rambow is proof that you don't have to follow formula to make a coming-of-age concept work.

If only the real sequels to Rambo were this much fun.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars.

Rated PG-13 for mature themes. Opens today at the Carmike 12.

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