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1 review, 3 user ratings

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Death of the Incredible Hulk, The
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by Marc Kandel

"Hulk not ded. Hulk just said he had 3 film deal. What Fuk?"
3 stars

Over the past two reviews I've decided that given the opportunity I'd review films in Hulkspeak all the time. Its fun, it gets to the point, and it would probably triple my output. In fact, I’m going to try it right now with "Must Love Dogs", as reviewed by the Hulk:

Hulk review “Must Love Dogs”. Hulk love dogs. Dogs always nice to Hulk, lick Hulk, even when Hulk mad.

Hulk no like “Must Love Dogs”. Worse than adamantium enema by Doctor Doom.

Movie is stuped girl fantasy- girl meet nyce man. Girl meet bad man. Girl get to fuk both. Girl hate herself for fukking bad man even though girl know he is bad. Tells bad man off even though Girl already knew better, and bad man simply being true to nature, like Hulk is when Hulk smash things. But scene gives girls in audience false sense of empowerment, even though this behavior is stuped and hippocritical even by Hulk standard. And girls think bad man is hot- so ok to fuk him. Girl end up with nyce man who make boats to be quirky. Dogs involved sumehow. Girl no fuk dogs.

Hulk hate Diane Lane. No think she hot or have talent. Hulk no see fuss.

Hulk hate Dermott Mulroney- puny Mulroney more wooden than trees pulped to make Hulk comic book. Why Mulroney still get work? Why not work in cigar shop where he can wear feather headdress and hold box of Macanudoes? Hulk make wuden Indian joke. Hulk funny.

Hulk sad for John Cusack. Puny Cusack still make films for girls over 30 who want remember “Say Anything”. Hulk hope Puny Cusack get good house out of deal. Or big fish tank. Hulk like fish. Hulk hope Puny Cusack make more film like “Grosse Point Blank” or even “Fat Man and Little Boy”—Hulk cry for puny Cusack in that moovie. Hulk knows dangers of too much radiation.

Must Love Dogs not original. Not smrt. Moovie make Hulk want smash women. Hulk have to watch to make Hulkwife happy-Hulk had just rubbed one off to girl on girl videeo and no want make hump- Hulkwife get offended. Hulkwife not even wait 15 minutes like Hulk ask her too. So Hulk make up to her and watch mooovie. Hulk now know some things worse than angry wife. Hulk would rather divorce than watch “Must Love Dogs”. Hulk never take time to be considerate and honest again with Hulkwife. Only means watching “Must Love Dogs”. Not worth truble.

And so ends the great experiment. I’ll wait a moment to see if I get kicked off from HBS.

Okay, on to Death of the Incredible Hulk:

As snuff films go this one’s not bad. As the title tells us how the tale will end, the only thing to do is make the journey an entertaining one. Bill Bixby stars and directs, and as with the former two TV movies, what Death lacks in production and depth, it makes up for in enthusiasm and sheer fun.

David Banner, working as a janitor in a genetics research facility, secretly aids Doctor Ronald Pratt in his research of DNA and advancement of the human healing ability. Pratt uncovers the identity of his anonymous helper, and together they work to rid Banner of the Hulk once and for all. Unfortunately, Pratt’s research is targeted for theft and military application by an organization of terrorists, whose unwilling agent, Jasmin turns on them when she interrupts Banner’s treatment, witnesses the destructive power of the Hulk and falls in love with Banner. Together, they plan to stop the terrorists and the stage is set for a final showdown.

As sendoffs go, Bill Bixby is in rare form both in front and behind the camera, working from a surprisingly smart script by returning Trial of the Incredible Hulk writer Gerald Di Pego who takes the opportunity to explore not only Banner’s curse, but what the Hulk is, and how his abilities might be used beyond simple destruction. The story offers Banner an opportunity to study the Hulk under controlled conditions and even meet him face to face via videotape, which to my memory is something never successfully accomplished during the run of the series save for dream sequences.

But this isn’t a science lesson (and the effects budget begins to show its seams quickly), so compelling as the technobabble and Hulk experimentation actually is, we need the opportunity for some smashy-smashy.

Enter the “terrorists” of some dubious Euro/Eastern Bloc origin, wisely never expounded upon beyond working for “The Cause”. Jasmin (Elizabeth Gracen) is the sultry femme-fatale who has Sidney Bristow’s disguise schtick down a decade earlier than “Alias”, but she does it with far less whining and softer cheekbones. Some may recognize Gracen as the young lady of “Highlander: the Series” fame, but honestly, people should only acknowledge the original film and tolerate no further entries, so stop it.

Somehow Marvel missed the boat as Jasmin is essentially the “Black Widow”, an ebon-clad uber-spy/seductress, and through a few tweaks could have easily been sold as such. Elizabeth Gracen does well with the character: a conflicted young woman good at her illicit profession, but working under duress, the execution of a family member held over her head should she fail. She also provides Banner with the opportunity to get laid, and that’s never a bad thing for a guy nearing the clearing at the end of the path.

Banner’s situation goes pear-shaped rather quickly, and it’s off to the races with the climactic fight taking place aboard an airplane, where we learn exactly what “catastrophic damage” it would take to kill a Hulk. Comic fans were and will be disappointed with the results, as Hulk goes the lime jell-o route due to a fall from the skies which wouldn’t have even scuffed the heels of the Ang Lee big screen version. But TV fans know that this Hulk has always been more vulnerable than his comic counterpart, and it’s a reasonable end to the beast from the series. I could have done without the original song done to the tune of the “Banner Hitchhike” theme scoring Ferrigno’s long drop, but I suppose it was to be expected for full nostalgic effect.

Ferrigno gives us his jade-hued best, tearing through Styrofoam, candy glass, and carboard sets with gusto and really putting his all behind a rather impressive scene where he is called upon to grab the scoopers of two bulldozers and toss them away. I think that’s where the bulk of the budget went, and it’s a good call- the bodybuilder sells these moments very convincingly, and even now I can remember why I fled the room as a child when he bounded onscreen and growled.

Bixby really utilizes his acting chops this round. Rather than re-using his old trick of a fake name that sounds idiotically close to “Banner” (Bannon, Belsen, Benson, etc.) to keep his identity secret, he also affects the guise of a simpleton, and does extremely well, avoiding the pitfall of playing the character retarded, but walking the line of an intellectually diminished laborer, letting the mannerisms drop away as he very cleverly bypasses security and begins to scrawl complex DNA and calculations over a whiteboard. There’s also a brief comedic turn (something Bixby always enjoyed doing but did not get much opportunity for) as he and Jasmin ambush those pesky terrorists using disguises.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it one last time- Bixby owned this character inside and out and it’s a testament to his skills that he can choreograph all of the activity from behind the lens and still turn in a sterling performance. He was a marvelous performer who put his all into the role of David Banner. For all the snarky comments about how hammy the acting was in the original series and the movies, I have to disagree at least as far as Bixby goes. Yes, some of the situations he is put in are ridiculous, and the necessity of Hulk-outs make for some very strained scenarios (one of my favorites from the show has Bill going green over not having enough change to make a phone call)- but Bixby committed to whatever the story called for, and his acting was always genuine and heartfelt. Ham can only carry one so far. Bill Bixby was an actor, and his talent kept the show going far past the novelty and the effects.

It’s the end of an era. There were plans for a “Rebirth of the Hulk” movie, but Bixby’s poor health and subsequent death put the nail in the coffin with more finality than Hulk’s fall from a plane. I for one would have been very interested to see what could have come from another film, but I’m content with the competent, dignified send-off the characters receive here. Enough for a 3 TV Movie stars with of course, the imaginary half star tacked on for emphasis.

Check it out, have a good time, say goodbye. And please forgive me for the Hulkspeak review, though I, like Hulk, loathe “Must Love Dogs” with every fiber of my being.

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originally posted: 12/20/06 04:09:04
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User Comments

10/24/09 art IT"S ABOUT TIME! 4 stars
6/01/09 art THE HULK"S LAST STAND! 3 stars
3/03/07 David Pollastrini better than ang lee's movie 2 stars
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  18-Feb-1990 (NR)
  DVD: 03-Jun-2003

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