Film Reviews:

The Trial of The Incredible Hulk

(Bill Bixby, US, 1989)

In this, the second post-series Hulk movie, the Marvel Comics hero teams up with another comic book counterpart - Daredevil. At that's where the main interest lies for this film. The two heroes' paths cross by chance and David banner, the Hulk's alter ego, discovers blind lawyer Matt Murdock's secret identity. Banner and Murdock team up and the Hulk and Daredevil set out to stop a ruthless mobster who intends to control the crime underworld.

Actor Bill Bixby who plays Banner is also director on this outing. It's pretty much what you'd expect from a TV movie production of this calibre. The usual annoying touches of 'artistic licence' undermine any flair the film has to offer. Daredevil's Satanic red costume of the comics is replaced with a sub-Zorro combination of black jumper and slacks with tied-scarf mask (ugh!). If audiences are expected to accept a man who changes into a gree giant, I'm sure they can live with a hero in a bright red costume. The element of stealth that the black costume provides is understandable, but if directed well enough it could be just as believable in red. There are some bad visual effects by a gentleman named John Thomas (!) and when Banner becomes he Hulk, his beard suddenly disappears despite his hair growing into a very bad wig!

John Rhys Davies plays the nasty crime boss and his role is larger then his 'special appearance by' credit implies. Usually reliable, Rhys Davies goes well OTT here in his wraparound shades! The property descruction by the Hulk in The Trial... is more epic than anything seen in the previous film or television series (save maybe the pilot). There is a good courtroom wrecking scene that unfortunately turns out only to be a dream (yawn). Comic fans will also be disappointed by limited swinging from daredevil. His trademark technique of travel across the skyline is sadly lacking. Despite all of this, I still managed to get (a little) excited by the team up talk of the two characters and one cannot help think of what really could be achieved with a well-directed, big-budget film. Maybe one day we will get to see the ultimate X-Men movie.

I can't resist watching these productions - big or small screen adaptations of comic book heroes. It is only during the last decade that any really decent big screen versions have been produced. Yet due to the demand to fill hours of programming on cable and satellite television channels, we will continue to see modest budget superhero movies like The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. Admittedly, not a prospect worth getting too excited about, but one I know I'll be unable to resist sampling.

Rob Dyer