Notes from the back row 

Fathers, Chuck Norris, and Liv Tyler

I remember being in Grade 3, living in the middle of nowhere in northern B.C., and for my birthday my dad drove me and a buddy two hours to Prince George so we could watch Chuck Norris in Good Guys Wear Black . That’s the one where Chuck (wearing black) beats the hell out of a bunch of people and then does a flying kick through the windshield of an oncoming car. It was pretty awesome and while dad never allowed me to attempt that particular stunt he did used to let me steer the truck while sitting on his knee. My dad’s pretty much the coolest cat around.

Luckily, some of his traits have passed onto me. For instance, we both have a keen appreciation for the natural beauty and charm of Liv Tyler, who stars in her second flick in three weeks when The Incredible Hulk opens Friday at the Village 8.

Yes, there just was a Hulk movie released in 2003 that was directed by Ang Lee but it was a psychological introspective look the duality of Bruce Banner, and was therefore hated by almost everyone (I didn’t mind it so much). As I mentioned about a month ago Marvel Comics has a new film studio and is calling their own shots now so they’ve rebooted the Hulk franchise and taken it in the opposite direction — goodbye brooding characterization, hello carnage, action and a whole lotta ‘HULK SMASH!’

After an opening credit sequence that doesn’t quite set up the history we need to know, we find Bruce Banner (Ed Norton) hiding out in Brazil, looking for a cure to the fact that when he gets mad he turns into a lumbering green menace. Lovely Liv Tyler plays Betty, the romantic interest whose military father wants to harness the Hulk’s power for his own means. The film is basically a chase scene or road movie as Banner runs home, and there are plenty of logic gaps, under-explored subplots and cardboard characters along the way. But there is also some serious balls to the wall action, starting with an epic chase scene through the favelas of Rio de Janeiro and culminating in one of the best final fight scenes in a while. At least a third of this picture is heavy destruction and action.

The other two thirds is mostly rehashed Beauty/Beast-Jekyll/Hyde kind of stuff and Liv is torn between her duties to her father, her fiancé and her true heart. All in all this Hulk watches like a knee-jerk reaction to the last one and fails to deliver in the way Marvel’s other summer flick Iron Man, did but for popcorn, mayhem and a bit more Liv Tyler, it’ll do.

The other film opening Friday is The Happening , the latest from pompous ass M. Night Shyamalan, who is trying to stop his downward spiraling career by making an R-rated enviro-horror starring Mark Wahlberg as a schoolteacher searching for logic in a world where people suddenly start acting weird and killing themselves. There are some cool visuals, some creepiness and some decent paranoia, but M Night’s last flicks ( Signs, The Village, The Lady in the Water) were all real shitty.

I haven’t seen The Happening but my instincts say Shyamalan sucks and this is a renter. I trust my instincts — my dad taught me that. He’s taught me a lot over the years actually, everything from how to drive a boat and gut a fish, to never judging people by how they look, to a keen appreciation of Monty Python. So happy Father’s Day to all the awesome dads out there,

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