Why wasn’t Ed Norton in the Avengers?

Moonrise Kingdom

Year: 2012
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Written By: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola

RYAN’S REVIEW

How funny it is that so soon after we review Monster’s Ball we should come to another love story so equally awkward and awesome.  I think on paper the love story of a teenage girl and a khaki scout running away together to prematurely get married doesn’t sound so good but with the right guy at the helm it can become magic. I’ll admit that there are times during this movie that I feel a bit awkward because the stars are so young but it really takes nothing away from how cute and romantic their relationship is. Like all Wes Anderson movies this one is built on outstanding performances from a rich cast to go along with smart dialogue and unique direction.

I think Wes Anderson is one of the smartest filmmakers out there today.  Like a solo Coen Brothers act that makes something with a style of his own that never fails to be different and interesting.  I would never insult the man by trying to diagnose him myself.  I wholeheartedly believe this man more than most to be smarter than myself and I have no business trying to put his work under a microscope.  It’s incredible, its original, and it is a reminder to me that there are still fresh movies being made during this age of big budget special effects monsters. Wes Anderson is a director that knows how to develop characters during the time constraints of a film.  He draws top tier actors to his films and puts them all in a position to play a really memorable role. I don’t know where he found his two stars for this film but I thought the love struck couple was played by some outstanding young actors.  The supporting cast is as good as any I have ever seen yet these two kids manage to still really distinguish themselves. The star crossed lovers, Sam and Suzy, were played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward.  I don’t know what the future holds for them but they have the talent to grow into greats one day.

This was the first Wes Anderson film to feature Ed Norton and I hope we see more collaborations between the two.  I am and have long since been a big fan of Ed Norton. I do not know what’s been up with him for the last decade or so. He really blew up in the late 90s and early 2000s playing parts that left quite an impression on me.  Since then the only noteworthy thing he has done has been The Incredible Hulk and although I thought he was great as the mean green machine he burned bridges with the studio.  That movie was to be part of the cannon of films being made around The Avengers franchise but when Norton got into a dispute with the studio over a writing credit he was dropped like a bad habit.  His character was replaced for the big show and as a result there is a good possibility we don’t see anymore solo Hulk films for quite a while.  I think it’s a shame because I liked Norton as Bruce Banner and I would have liked to see more of his Hulk movies.  In this film he is awesome as Scout Master Ward and I think he fits in nicely with the Wes Anderson crew.

Bruce Willis and Frances McDormand were also collaborating with Anderson for the first time in this film and like Norton I think they fit in perfectly.  They are both in points of their careers where they can seemingly do no wrong when given the right opportunity.  For all his talent I think Bruce Willis makes a lot of crap these days but I am specifically thinking of the recent Die Hard sequels.  The man is too good of an actor to keep beating a dead horse in my opinion.  McDormand on the other hand doesn’t make stupid movies, and I love her for it.  Great actress that can never get enough credit.

The Wes Anderson regulars know what he wants now and their performances in his movies are always perfect.  Bill Murray is a legend and I love everything that he does.  He continues to be part of incredible films and I specifically love the way he has grown as an actor and entertainer over the long haul of his career.  Jason Schwartzman always plays an interesting character and this film is no different.  I have loved Schwartzman since his portrayal as “Cool Ethan” in one of my favorite comedies of all time, Slackers. That movie is largely forgotten and I rarely meet anybody who has even seen it but he is so damn funny in it.  In this film I specifically like the slow motion scene when Sam and Suzy are leaving the chapel as “man and wife” having just been wed by Schwartzman.

I have loved each and every film that Wes Anderson has made and this one is obviously no different.  I look forward to his most recent film, Grand Budapest Hotel, because I haven’t seen it yet.  Despite not seeing it I have already bought it and expect it on my doorstep the day it is released to video.  I have that much faith in Anderson that I will buy what he has made whether I have seen it or heard anything about it or not.  That isn’t something I can say for too many directors but I have no doubts about this one.  A truly remarkable filmmaker and in my opinion each and everything he does is worth your time.  He is still a young director so I hope we have a lot more to look forward to from him in the future.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I just love this adorable movie. It’s an interesting little love story about two kids, who I feel in the end teach everyone a little something about love. It takes a special kind of actor to pull off any Wes Anderson film, and I think he always does a fantastic job of finding actors who can portray so much depth even though they are mostly melancholy the entire film. Another note worthy thing about a Wes Anderson film is the opening credits. They are the most artistic in the business. It doesn’t get much better from an artistic opinion.

moonrisekingdom

This is how you fit everyone in the movie into the poster in an effective way. No cheesy glows and fading, floating faces. One big group shot. Any other movie and this might be cheesy as well, but not this movie. Because it’s too intentional. It works. The coloring matches the movie and the scenery matches the plot. The typography is a little hard to read since the value of the yellow is really close to the blue behind it, but it’s strange and out of place because of the fancy script; yet this too works simply because everything in his movies are strange and out of place. Yes, I will admit I am biased, but this poster works for me. I was already interested in seeing the movie because it’s Wes Anderson, but just in case…the poster also makes me want to watch.

NEXT MOVIE: Multiplicity (1996)

The Incredible Hulk

Year: 2008
Directed By: Louis Leterrier
Written By: Zak Penn, Edward Norton

RYAN’S REVIEW

The Hulk is a hard character to center movies around despite all the attempts to do so.  The Hulk is a really popular character in the Marvel Universe but the Hulk isn’t really a hero per say.  He doesn’t necessarily save, he destroys. The Hulk is the Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hide of Marvel Comics.  Bruce Banner is a man always struggling to control his power because his power is dangerous and he is afraid of hurting the ones he loves.  That’s a great character dynamic but it makes formatting a film story line difficult, that is part of the reason the Hulk films are never successful.

I grew up watching the Incredible Hulk television show with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno.  I have always loved the character and I have liked all his incarnations in film.  Despite the popular opinion on Ang Lee’s Hulk in 2003, I thought it was OK.  I thought Eric Bana was a good casting choice for Bruce Banner, and I liked the movie despite its flaws.  The movie was far too long, but it was an Ang Lee film.  His movies are good for great action and incredibly long retarding points with a really long running time.  The movie was exactly that too, it had long stretches of boredom but where most people found that to be disappointing I had merely seen it as something to be expected.  We do not own the movie but I wouldn’t mind revisiting it at some point and writing a review about it.  I like Jennifer Connelly as Betty Ross and I think Sam Elliott is awesome whether he was a good choice for the role or not.  If I get the opportunity to see it again maybe I can pinpoint exactly what made this movie so hated.  It was built for a sequel but was a complete and utter box office flop so no sequels were made.

This movie, The Incredible Hulk, is a reboot of the franchise and I thought it was an incredible movie.  Like its predecessor though, it did not live up to studio expectations profit wise. Despite that, this was a great movie and I thought it was awesome.  I am really not familiar with Louis Leterrier but he made a fantastic Hulk movie, even honoring the original Bill Bixby television show along the way.  What I liked most about this movie was that it was connected to the universe of films Marvel was beginning to create.  It was connected with the Iron Man movies as Robert Downey Jr. made a late scene cameo as Tony Stark. However, when that universe the studio was building came to fruition this film was not included.  Edward Norton was replaced as the Hulk in The Avengers film and everything we saw in this movie became nothing more than an after thought.  I know that after this film came out Edward Norton got into a dispute with the studio over a writing credit and things got a little ugly.  I think that in the end the studio obviously won because Norton wasn’t included in the party when things really got going.  I was really disappointed by that decision but I will admit Mark Ruffalo did a great job in the film.  There will probably be a Ruffalo Hulk movie made eventually unless the studio has finally learned its lesson in regards to centering a film on the Hulk character.

It really was a shame that the studio gave up on this movie and the franchise it might have created because I think Edward Norton was excellent in the part.  I really liked what was done with his character, how hard he worked to control his curse, the Japanese Judo breathing methods and what not. I don’t think Liv Tyler was bad in the part of Betty Ross but I did prefer Jennifer Connelly to her. William Hurt is an outstanding actor and I think he is awesome, but Sam Elliott may have had an edge on him too despite how good he is.  The mustache looked ridiculous on him, and nobody wears a mustache like Sam Elliott.  I think Tim Roth was a great bad guy and I liked seeing him in a big time movie again.  Stan Lee and Lou Ferrigno both had really good cameos in this movie too.  No Marvel movie should be made without an appearance from Stan Lee for as long as we have him with us, and no Hulk movie should ever be made without paying its respects to Lou Ferrigno.

This movie might not matter anymore after the phenomenal success of The Avengers, but it is still worth your time to see. Mark Ruffalo may have been great in that movie but with all due respect he robbed all of us by taking the part that rightfully belonged to Edward Norton. This was an awesome movie and it’s just flat out not fair that it was discarded by the studio.  I cannot argue with how awesome The Avengers was, but I will always wish that things had went differently and Ed Norton had been involved.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I don’t love this movie. It’s okay I guess, but to be completely honest, I just don’t really like The Incredible Hulk as a super hero. Not my favorite. Let’s go ahead and move on to the poster.

incredible-hulk-poster-big

Ryan sorta gave me some kind of picture in my head when he told me what this poster looked like. He said he was going to write my post for me, so thank goodness I didn’t let him do that. I hate this poster. It looks like Ed Norton is coming out of the Hulk’s ass. I am literally laughing out loud at the whole premise. There is this obtrusive glow on the typography of “Hulk”. I just really do not like this movie or poster. Not a fan.

NEXT MOVIE: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

The Avengers

Amber and I just finished watching The Avengers and it was incredible.  I have been following the movie since they decided to do it a few years ago and it has more than exceeded all my expectations.  I had my doubts over the years because they were putting so many large personalities onto the screen at the same time but they made it look easy. This was easily one of the best films made after the Marvel characters and that is saying a lot with such great movies to compete with like X2 and the Spiderman franchise. I found myself disappointed with all the recent Marvel movies so this really was a pleasant surprise.  I did enjoy both Thor and Captain America but I had expected them to be better, and I all but hated Iron Man 2 and X-men First Class.  The Avengers simply couldn’t have been any better though.  It was action packed, all the stars were on point with their performances, and it was surprisingly funny.

I openly criticized the choice of Joss Whedon to direct this powerhouse when it was announced a couple years ago.  Clearly I grossly underestimated him and should have done my homework on him before jumping to conclusions.  He had an extended hand in the making of the film getting a writing credit to go along with his role as director.  He made a great movie and should be seeing a lot of doors opening up for him in his career now.  Robert Downey Jr. was fantastic and seemed to really shine in his role as Iron Man.  He is Tony Stark, and he is only getting better at playing the part.  I think Tom Hiddleston was awesome as Loki, really really great as the main antagonist of the film. He is so villainous yet such a joker all the same.  The whole movie he has that sinister smile on his face as if he is humored by a joke that only he knows and it is the entire world.  Samuel L. Jackson had to do little here but stand tall and look cool, but who better to do so?  This was the largest role Jackson has had as Nick Fury now and I think he is great at it.  Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Scarlett Johansson all did well reprising their roles as Captain America, Thor, and Black Widow.  I thought Jeremy Renner was really good playing the part of Hawkeye.  I didn’t know what good a guy with a bow and arrow would be against an army of aliens but I was really surprised by how much I liked the character.  I wish Ed Norton had returned as the Hulk but Mark Ruffalo wasn’t bad.  I really liked Norton’s The Incredible Hulk but he ended up battling with the studio over a writing credit after the movie came out and they ultimately decided not to bring him back for this.  Not to mention that The Incredible Hulk wasn’t exactly considered a successful film, I thought it was really good though.  I think this movie made great use of the Hulk, and Ruffalo did a good enough job playing Bruce Banner that it didn’t matter that the character was recast.

All of these actors had fantastic chemistry in this movie, and I am very hopeful they will all be able to come together to do it again in the future. They had great dialogue that really reflected their comic book roots with a lot of witty banter and goodhearted humor. Ruffalo and Downey Jr. particularly had good chemistry together, but you really get the feeling that all of these actors liked one another.  I was so surprised by how funny the movie actually was; I found myself laughing out loud from beginning to the very end. If you wait through the entire credits you see the movie end on a really funny final scene. The whole movie had such a casual and natural feeling to it, that surprised me too although it shouldn’t have.  This has been something like six films in the making with buildup coming in nearly every Marvel film since Iron Man came out in 2008. All the characters were well established before this movie even started production so they didn’t have to waste any time introducing every character. That allowed them to do so much more with the script and I think that made this an exceptional comic book film.

Amber and I both loved this movie, if we had the freedom to do so we would have gotten right back in line and watched it again. However we had a lot to talk about on the way back to pick up the kids, there was so much to like about the movie.  I hope everybody out there goes to see the movie because it is worth your time and money. Given the opportunity Amber and I might even go back to the theater and see it a second time on the big screen. We did not watch the film in 3D format, opting for the safer 2D choice.  The last two films we saw in 3D looked awful, but I cannot say how good or bad they might have been in this movie. If you saw it in 3D leave a comment and let me know how it looked.  If it looked good I might check it out the second time around.

UPDATE #1

Santa Claus was awesome this year and brought us a copy of this movie to add into the collection. I enjoyed this movie just as much the second time if not more.  It is a fun and exciting movie that couldn’t have been made any better.  I look forward to the next installment as there will undoubtedly be one, and can’t wait to find out who might be joining the team.  Until then I look forward to the next Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man movies that will be hitting screens this upcoming summer.