Cinema-Maniac: The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989) Review

Extra! Extra! CM lost yet another case against the general public (aka his college classroom). In his effort to prove Marvel monopoly on superheroes films is no excuse for laziness CM back himself with supporting evidence in court showing several Marvel films side by side. Asking the jury to name a director of a specific film to which they couldn’t differentiate a single film for having a unique style, a different formula, or a different tone. He came prepared and determine to prove a point, but lost with an opposing evidence against him. The side against CM pointed to a positive review of Sharknado found on his profile which was enough to convince the jury his position on trail was futile and unanimously was found guilty in hating anything popular. This is not the first time CM lost a case against the general public. Similarly the same occurred when he declared “The Dark Knight” the worst influence to comic book films and titled the success of “Frozen” the end of creativity in American animation. Neither of those cases prove any success as he became bombarded by large number of defenders. Yes it seems by some colleagues his pursue for there to be great writing in films is coming at the sacrifice of seeing why a particular film appeal even when those supporters who see those same flaws. I’m simply attempting to this introduction as a news story because CM has no other way to open the review. Much the film he’s about to review, this opening is lost potential for something that could have been clever, but ends up falling short of what seemed promising.

The Trail of the Incredible Hulk follows David Banner who is held for questioning about a mob crime, his only chance lies with his blind lawyer. Honestly the title of the film was enough to convince me to see the film. I expected it to be the first Marvel film acknowledge consequences for super powers. In the first act it appears that way with David Banner being sent to prison and meeting his blind lawyer Matt Murdock whose determine to defend him. Sure Banner case will help Murdock in his personal pursuit for justice, but is shown wanting to take the high minded road with the story. Now it should be brought up that the film skims through the background of David Banner and Matt Murdock. What we learn is enough to obtain an understanding for both characters having more in common than one might expect. It’s more geared towards the characters driving the story than a story being driven by action. How the characters act make sense and their handling of their respective ordeals is seen as a logical one from their own view. Banner in this film does not turn into Hulk frequently demonstrating a restraint depicted in being difficult to maintain. We see Banner is a good guy, but not so much the world around him provoking him into madness with a desire to SMASH! We see a Banner not desiring to use powers for any good or bad motives. By the end it’s a given he will use them for good, but brings the often ignored turmoil in depicting a individual that unlike other super heroes cannot be entirely good or evil by complete control.

Back on topic, the title of the film is misleading. Sadly the only time we’re ever in court is in a dream sequence. What makes this dream sequence a tragic lost is if the scenario did happen it would have created a case that made proving Banner innocence allot more difficult. It’s also easily the best sequence in the film showing the most of Hulk abilities and the first ever Stan Lee cameo. Also, the techniques used in this dream sequence put us directly in Banner shoes. Disorienting close ups, uncomfortable zooming in to people faces, and loud noises that won’t stop that frankly just want to make you see HULK SMASH the court. Sadly post dream sequence the film takes a dive downward. Becoming more of a superhero team up than a high minded court film. Following the same formula of villain takes damsel, hero gets defeated, hero regaining his spirit, hero goes to save damsel, and villains get away on high tech flying speed boat from the top of tall building. Okay maybe not that last part, but that’s the general outline. Yet at the same time despite these familiarity there are many moments that makes it feel different from Marvel usual outing. Often seeing Banner and Murdock lives as mundane. Coming from someone who seen a number of Marvel films different is refreshing.

The same notion applies to the technical and cast side of the film. Once again there is some promise among the crew, but along the way falter. Bill Bixby is the director, producer, and star of the film. Bixby dialogue for the first act is simple often saying simple phrases instead of speaking in complete sentences. As the film progresses Bixby has more lines making him able to hold a conversation through his angry voice. However, when Bixby is meant to transform into a green painted Lou Ferrigno his angry face is unintentionally hilarious. This also causes some continuity issues as Bixby beard disappears when he “Hulks-out”. Ferrigno has the best moments in the film despite most of his dialogue requiring him to yell in rage. Sadly he doesn’t get to show much of his strength aside from the trial scene. It shows the film had a small budget with as Hulk does little destruction and Daredevil fights scenes beside being incredibly lame are slowly performed with simple choreography. Spectacles are the one thing the budget can’t contribute. Also, he doesn’t make an appearance in the final act that while it breaks from the norm of the title character saving the day means Hulk is often seen running more than helping people. To be fair though, a green Lou Ferrigno still looks more realistic than CG Hulks. Rex Smith committed as Matt Murdock, though is bland. While I do praise Smith for never blinking in his role as a blind man it does severely limits his range of emotions with constant wide eyes. Plus his costume is just black which makes sense for fighting in the dark, but looks uninteresting when compared the sight of a green Lou Ferrigno. Finally John Rhys-Davies plays the villain Wilson Fisk. Everything he says is cheesy comic-book villainy and he’s a having a blast with it. Embracing the goofy persona of his characters he’s rather fun to see even if he’s the villain. The supporting cast are part of the background with no standout. Some are good and some are hammy. As for director Bill Bixby his technique is just point and shoot. Visually the film ever rarely looks interesting with any noteworthy shot.

The Trail of the Incredible Hulk is different from Marvel usual affair. Granted it dated badly in some areas, but which specifically is up for debate. I don’t know about you, but when Lou Ferrigno plays Hulk I can tell he is real and actually there unlike the CG Hulks. Unfortunately unlike CG Hulk, Lou Ferrigno is restricted to slow movements and deliver little in the way of destruction. However, this film does allot right. The characters are made human, Hulk and Daredevil team up is fun, and refreshing to see the title character not be the main hero in a Marvel film. It won’t deliver the spectacles like todays Marvel films, but deliver on its characters and unlike most of Marvel releases it feels different. It’s not as high minded as one would hope given the title, but is a nice distraction sometimes faring better than a higher budget Marvel film.

6/10

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