ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Louis Leterrier

Starring:
Edward Norton/Bruce
Liv Tyler/Betty
Tim Roth/Emil
William Hurt/Gen. Ross
PLOT-CRUNCH
Bruce Banner (Norton) is not having a bad day; he’s having a bad LIFE. Not only is he on the run from the big, bad army who want to nab him for their own gain, he’s also desperately looking for a cure for his “go green” ailment while some sneering psycho soldier (Roth) is hot on his tail. What’s a Banner to do but HULK OUT and FIGHT BACK!
THE LOWDOWN

I don't wanna control it. I wanna get rid of it. – Bruce Banner

I dug Ang Lee’s somewhat morose and semi artsy take on THE HULK in 2003 (mutant poodles and mutant Nolte aside). With that said, I can capish why the film didn’t catch on. I mean most folks going to see THE HULK (many of them with their kids) want to see Hulk throw down and intentionally or unintentionally “save the day” to then leave the theatre with a smile carved in their faces. Personally HULK 2003 kind of bummed me out. I wasn’t in a good mood when I stepped out the cinema that’s for damn sure! Well I got a polar opposite vibe after experiencing this reboot/can almost work as a sequel. THE INCREDIBLE HULK (yup same title as the David Bixby/Lou Ferrigno 1978 TV series) had me feeling like a kid again.

Where I would call the 2003 THE HULK the “drama Hulk” this new installment was giant hands down the “action Hulk”. After a brief recap of Hulk’s origins over the opening credits and a swift set up of the situation; THE INCREDIBLE HULK launched itself into full-on action mode, using relationships and plot turns as starter pistols for you guessed it…more freaking action. And you know what? NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT! I mucho appreciated that the flick was low on dialogue. it let its physical get-downs and its audio/visual hat tricks do the talking while rarely sacrificing character development, emotional resonance and the dramatic quotient of the story in the process. I was touched by the lovey dovey shite, involved in Banner’s plight to cure himself, loved to hate the awesome villain (Tim Roth can do no wrong) and was totally rooting for Abomination to get his scaly butt whooped by Hulky come the finale. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Moreover, the CGI went from adequate to mind blowing, the affair had a winnings sense of humor that went down smooth, it also hinted at enough other Marvel properties/characters (Iron Man, Captain America, The Avengers and some say Daredevil) to get my fan boy blood in a tizzy, slyly nodded the 1978 HULK TV Show (all about that theme song surfacing – I went nuts!) and served up one hell of a final battle between THE HULK and ABOMINATION. I read somewhere that only “children” would enjoy the CG mano et mano that this flick put out at the end. Man I hate when critics do that; speak out as if their word is gold. Hey man, I’m no f*cking child and I had goose bumps going on when the rumble in New York between the two mutants erupted. Over the top, inventive, visually arresting and running at just the right length, it OWNED ME! WOW!

That's not to say the film didn't have its snags. It was at times edited too tightly for my liking. Before I could digest what I had just seen, the flick would cut to another frame, hence making some of the action bits not hit as hard as they should've. Random plot holes and one dangling plot line were also in the house. I mean was it just me or was General Ross' "carte blanche" a little too "blanche"? I mean who’s approving this man’s "careless" actions? He’s opening fire in public places for Zeus’s sakes! COME ON! And I really wanted to know what happened to the person that drank that contaminated (by a drop of Banner’s blood) bottle. Maybe it was a set up for the next HULK movie or maybe it was just bad storytelling – only time will tell. Lastly, the Samuel Sterns character (played by Tim Blake Nelson) was not funny (Was he supposed to be?) and he got on my freaking nerves hence taking away from the crucial happenings on hand. I hope he’s not as grating when/if he becomes “The Leader” in future HULK movies.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK was for me a perfect flip side to 2003’s THE HULK. Changes in plot details aside, both films actually complement each other as they offer two different perspectives on the same subject matter. You bet your ass I’ll have a HULK/INCREDIBLE HULK back to back night when this one comes out on DVD. Till then…ARROW SMASHED…on JD!

GORE
Not really any gore here but some of the transformations were pretty intense, Abomination was one frightening mofo, Hulk getting REAL MAD was freaky and Emil Blonksy sure folded like a Wall-Mart shirt when he got kicked by the Hulk into that tree…LOL!
ACTING
Edward Norton (Bruce) was aces as Bruce Banner. Sympathetic, low key and natural – I couldn’t help but love the dude. Liv Tyler (Betty) blew me away here. She made a much better “Betty” than Jennifer Connelly in my opinion via her heartfelt and genuine performance. Shit, I fell in love with her! Watch out Bruce! She’s my dame now! Tim Roth (Emil) always makes for a kick ass villain and here was no exception. His sneers to the camera had me giggling in fanboy glee. William Hurt (Gen. Ross) was maybe a pinch “bland” but he still worked.
T & A
We get a shot of Liv Tyler’s endless legs and the ladies get Norton shirtless.
DIRECTING
Witnessing Letterrier’s adrenaline charged visual take on the material was the equivalent of being hit by a dose of gamma ray. Rapid fire paced, involving and eye popping; the energy and bam-bam-bam imagery kept me hooked in. And it should be said that the final fight with Abomination was an ‘action” delight!
SOUNDTRACK
Craig Armstrong smack-downed the goods by way of his affecting and often enthralling score.
BOTTOM LINE
HULK 2003 was Bruce Banner inclined and this latest installment leaned more towards his green counterpart. Both films can almost act as parallels for Banner’s dual identity and I personally loved them pretty much the same but for different reasons. Sure the script for this Jekyll and Hyde on steroids sported some missteps and the editing was randomly too taut for its own good but when I was done with this rambunctious celluloid ride it reminded me what summer movies should be all about. I had a blast! Thanks to all involved for this treat and bring back THE HULK again! I already miss the dude!
BULL'S EYE
Although uncredited, star Edward Norton had a hand on the script (mostly dialogue I heard).

Edward Norton was offered the Bruce Banner role in the 2003 THE HULK, he turned it down.

Look out for cameos by Stan Lee and TV's Hulk Lou Ferrigno (who also provided the voice of the Hulk).

Letterier's original cut was 135 minute long. Word has it that the snipped out footage might make its way on the DVD (the shrink scene seen in the trailer included).

VISIT THE INCREDIBLE HULK SITE HERE

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9:35PM on 07/11/2008

Hulk SMASH, indeed!

Now HERE's the action that was sorely missing in Ang Lee's odd little chamber [link] back in '03. A better looking CGI beast, a cooler villain, and the watery, beautiful eyes of Liv Tyler (whose dialogue seems to consist of repeated proclamations of "BRUUUUUCE!") get this one off the ground and an almost horror/monster movie (rather than straight superhero) tone holds the interest until it's over. There are sizable flaws, though, especially the dead-weight, ubervillainous take on Thunderbolt
Now HERE's the action that was sorely missing in Ang Lee's odd little chamber [link] back in '03. A better looking CGI beast, a cooler villain, and the watery, beautiful eyes of Liv Tyler (whose dialogue seems to consist of repeated proclamations of "BRUUUUUCE!") get this one off the ground and an almost horror/monster movie (rather than straight superhero) tone holds the interest until it's over. There are sizable flaws, though, especially the dead-weight, ubervillainous take on Thunderbolt Ross by William Hurt that just doesn't square with the comics and leaves a pall on the scenes he appears in. Taken as a whole, though, Marvel did well with this one, thogh the witty and imaginative IRON MAN is their real Must-see this summer (Just give Downey, Jr. his damned Oscar already!)
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