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Ang Lee’s The Hulk has to be the most stylish film based off of a comic book. Where Blade went balls out to create the perfect transition, X-Men touched on some origin and gave fans what they wanted, and where Spider-Man delivered the first of many chapters based on the amazing character, The Hulk has the style and story to make it the most memorable of all the comic transitions.

The Hulk tells the story of Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) and his alter-ego The Incredible Hulk. After Bruce’s father, David, experiments on himself with his genetic research focusing on regeneration and such, he impregnates his wife with Bruce and fears that he may have passed certain elements of that research on to his son. Bruce only shows certain signs of this genetic manipulation until a lab accident exposes him to a high level of gamma radiation which unleashes the Hulk inside.

What I believe to be the best part of the film is it is much darker than both X-Men and Spider-Man, but not in such a way as Daredevil where the story is completely destroyed by darkness for the sake of making it dark. The Hulk features a very intriguing story that actually creates characters much deeper than previously created in any of the aforementioned movies. Bruce faces the internal conflict of the Hulk being loose when he loses control of his emotions but also has to deal with the realization that his father isn’t dead and a government contracted organization is looking to take over his research. The screen writers need to be given full credit for bringing yet another intellectual movie to the table this summer without shying away from the popcorn movie many comic book fans and critics where expecting.

Yet another strong point of the movie is the supporting cast. Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly) as Bruce’s love interest and, seemingly, the only thing that can calm Bruce down enough to return to normal. The beautiful Connelly delivers a very commendable performance for a film many thought to bring 2D “filler” characters to the table. General Ross (Sam Elliott) as the overbearing father looking to contain this “creature” as a weapon also delivers a great performance and we can see as the film goes on that he feels more and more guilty about what he may ultimately have to do. David Banner played by Nick Nolte (doing his best Whistler impression, no doubt) rounds things out with an outstanding performance as Bruce’s unstable, yet brilliant father looking to obtain the secrets of his son’s transformations to use on himself.

The biggest debate of the film was going to be the CGI no matter now good the actual movie was, but for those looking for a near seamless realism to the character, look elsewhere. The Hulk doesn’t look perfect, but that is how it should be. He is a comic book hero represented on film in the most lifelike manner you could give to a 15 foot, green mass. Overall the computer generated work is excellent, and much better than last year’s Spider-Man. The way the green-meanie interacts with he real world environment (pelted with bullets, running over sand dunes, interacting with other characters) is very well done and you can see a lot of time was placed in making it perfect.

While the story is the best part it also is the biggest drawback in some parts. The movie clocks in at well over two hours which is bordering on the long side of things and there are several points which just seemed to bother me. The film makes a point to show a near zero body count. After The Hulk chucks a tank nearly half a mile into a sand bank the operator stumbles out shaking his head as though he is just dazed. Somehow I think he would be looking for his brain matter scattered all over the interior as the force in which that tank was thrown would have surely done more damage than a simple headache. In fact, as far as I can remember, there is only one causality in the entire film. Somehow this seems like a way to show that Bruce isn’t such a bad guy as The Hulk, he is just angry, but so is Wolverine and he skewered a great many of Stryker’s forces in X2. Also, as you may have heard other places, the ending is atrociously laughable. Going from a heart to heart conversation into a huge battle proved to be the films, “What the?” moment as no one had a clue what was going on. Its just the little things that peck away at your during the movie and bring it down a notch.

What makes this movie so stylish is the cinematography. Utilizing a direct reference to the comic in which the film was ripped, Lee plays with nifty little transitions and the feeling as though you are progressing through “panels” of a comic book. At certain points the camera zooms out to show, seemingly, and entire page of panels and then zooms in on the next appropriate one. Many movies use these types of transitions, and even the multiple camera angles a la “24,” but combined with the panel feel of the film you are left with a giddy sense inside.

You may be surprised that you enjoy The Hulk much more than you want yourself to believe. As the first Marvel comic fully interjected with somewhat believable story and supporting characters to add life you appreciate the work that went into creating such a good film. The action sequences keep you happy, especially the mutant dog attack, and the storytelling draws you in to one of the summer’s best movies thus far. Hold your breath through the completely dumb ending battle and let the rollercoaster slide you in perfectly to the inevitable sequel.

Once in a great while a movie comes along that revolutionizes a genre. Even more difficult is a movie that breaks the mold of the tried and true method of genre film making with over fifty years of canon (history). 28 Days Later from director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, The Beach) is this kind of movie. With a few simple bends and breaks in the rules of zombie movies, 28 Days Later serves as one of the best new films based on the ancient lore of zombies, and, quite possibly, one of the best films that will be released this year.

It seems rare that such an intellectual film would hit during the popcorn movie summer season when big, brainless movies take to the big screen in order to break records and bring in massive audiences. Yet, most of these movies lack the substance to create a memory in the minds of the viewer that won’t dissipate even an hour after leaving the cinema. I already can’t remember what movies I saw a few months ago. As it is with being a film critic/reviewer, you have to see so much it takes an outstanding film to really make you stand up and say, “This is something special, this deserves recognition.” Only a few movies have done that for me over the years. Fight Club, The Matrix, Army of Darkness, and Final Destination are just some of the very select few that remind me why I do what I do. I can now safely add 28 Days Later to that list.

28 Days Later tells the story of a few survivors after a viral outbreak leaves the world devastated with zombies. After a group of animal activists break into a highly volatile lab and attempt to free some experimental specimens. When something goes wrong, as they always appear to, a virus called “Rage” is released into the human population. The similarities to other zombie movies can clearly be seen, but it is from this point on where things get interesting. The virus effects the human body in a much different way than that of previous zombie flicks. Within 30 seconds a typical person is transformed into a crazed being bent on feeding and with the ability to run. Who know transforming the undead from lumbering pacifists to hunger crazed marathon runners could add such an element to the movie. 28 days after infection the entire island of England has been deserted leading to some very cool scenes of our central characters examining the aftermath of such a biological assault.

The movie’s central character, Jim (Cillian Murphy), has so many things to deal with at once, and Boyle takes careful steps to exam each one of them. After being hit by a car on a courier route Jim, presumably, was in a coma for a number of weeks (four to be exact) and wakes up to find the entire country devastated. TV and radio have stopped broadcasting, newspapers read of “Evacuation” and churches are scrawled with text proclaiming the end is near. Its all standard post apocalyptic stuff, but this is all that mixed with some jet fuel and crack blast your brains out with just how good the film really is. Jim eventually meets up with a few other survivors who hear, on the radio, that a brigade of Army personnel are still alive and are able to protect any other survivors. They make a choice to seek out these soldiers and hopefully escape.

The movie holds a very important message that is reiterated in the films opening. People, even when not under the undue influence of antigens, have a general hatred for other people. It just seems to be our nature. While the first part of the film is a superb zombie movie, the second half dives into more of a psychological portrayal of the human brain and what really drives us. Without giving too much away, some things are just too good to be true.

The movie does suffer through a few things in the writing department that would scream out to be obvious. London has rivers and lakes surrounding it. Wouldn’t it be prudent to just get in a boat and drop anchor right in the middle of these bodies of water? Also the ending opens up some continuity problems with statements made earlier in the movie, but none of this detracts from the overall pleasure you get from seeing this film. While not relying too much on scare tactics such as people jumping out of places, there are a good number of “crash” moments that make you jump.

28 Days Later is a refreshing breath of fresh air into an increasingly stale genre. If you can drop any preconceptions that zombie movies have to be mindless decapitation fests you will enjoy 28 Days Later for the storytelling and the revelations that Boyle reveals about humans and our cherishing of life only at the point when it may slip away.