Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Incredible Hulk

Let me preface this by saying that I'm not a huge fan of The Hulk. Never read the comics, never liked the show aside from the campy value, and absolutely hated Ang Lee's version. With all that in mind, this movie wasn't as bad as it could have been. Unlike the home-runs of Iron Man and what Dark Knight promises to deliver, The Incredible Hulk can be looked at as anything more than a simple action movie.

The movie starts out with a little background on how Bruce Banner (Ed Norton) became the Hulk: a gamma ray explosion caused by a self-induced experiment gone awry. We find Banner six months later hiding from the government in South America. In my favorite scene he's working in a bottling factory. They poke fun at the Hulk tradition as his infamous "Don't make me angry, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry." Unfortunately, he's speaking Spanish and replaces "angry" with "hungry"- much to the confusion of the person he's sparring with.

The government manages to track him down, and General Ross (William Hurt) and Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) are on his trail. Banner begins corresponding with a scientist, Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson), in hopes of finding a cure. This results in the army tracking him down, coming to a head in a series of showdowns. Culminating when Blonsky himself takes a serum to become a sort of Hulk- an Abomination. This leads to the epic battle so prevalently featured in the trailers.

The action scenes were orchestrated great, but they were so overdone- especially the last one. I understand that this is part of the point, but it reminds me of one of those cheesy Power Rangers battles. The Hulk in this movie looked much grittier and more menacing than in the previous one, and he didn't suffer from extreme variations in size the plagued Lee's version.
Even so, it still felt a bit cartoony.

The acting wasn't great. Ed Norton, as always delivers, but Roth, Hurt, and Liv Tyler (playing Betty Ross- Banner's love interest and General Ross' daughter) seemed bored through the whole thing. There was virtually no chemistry between Norton and Tyler. The only character that has any sort of depth anyway is Banner. He has to wrestle to keep his anger under control, yet utilize the Hulk's power. In this version it's simply having his heart rate jump above a certain speed that will result in a transformation. This includes a humorous sex(ish) scene.

The saving grace to this movie is the light-hearted approach it takes to the franchise- including characteristics from its history, and current. I have a feeling Marvel is massing something huge. With Samuel L Jackson appearing as Nick Fury at the end of Iron Man, and now Robert Downy Jr. making an appearance as Tony Stark, and S.H.E.I.L.D playing a major role in the tracking of the Hulk. This movie wasn't great unto itself, but I hope it's a precursor of major things to come.


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