Review: The Hulk
Plot: Dr. Bruce Banner a.k.a The Hulk is now a fugitive on the run from a faction of the U.S Army, led by General “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt), who also happens to be the father of his estranged girlfriend, Betsy Ross (Liv Tyler). Banner is holed up in a Brazilian favela, and is working tirelessly on a potential cure in correspondence with a mysterious character known only as Mr. Blue. Somehow, the government is able to track Banner down, sending him on the run- with Ross, and super soldier Emil Blonsky in hot pursuit.
Review: THE INCREDIBLE HULK is, for lack of a better word- incredible! I honestly cannot believe how much I enjoyed this film, which is a surprise as I walked into this film with a lot of baggage. For one thing- I hated Ang Lee`s film, THE HULK (although he did some interesting things visually), and for another- I`m kind of sick of superhero movies. Don`t get me wrong- I loved IRON MAN as much as anyone, but I must admit that I`m suffering from a little superhero fatigue (although I can't wait for THE DARK KNIGHT). I assumed THE INCREDIBLE HULK would be an acceptable reboot of the Hulk franchise- but nothing more. Boy was I wrong!
Firstly- THE INCREDIBLE HULK completely washes out the bad taste left by Lee`s THE HULK. Everything that film did wrong, this does right. The filmmakers pretty much completely ignore the earlier film, and re-establishes the character through a killer opening montage (my buddy Alex swears he saw Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury during this sequence- although I must have missed it) that pretty much erases the memory of the first film, and dooms it to the discount bin at Blockbuster.
The cast is also much better in this outing- probably due to the fact that the actors actually seem to take the film seriously and don`t come across as bored (Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly- although I think they’re both terrific actors, they were badly miscast), or chew the scenery mercilessly (Nick Nolte- who gave his most wacked out performance in a career full of wacked out performances). Edward Norton is amazing as Bruce Banner- and is about as good in the role as Downey Jr. was as Tony Stark in IRON MAN (and yes folks- Downey Jr. does have a cameo towards the end, which drove the audience, including myself, absolutely apeshit). As Banner, Norton perfectly depicts a man prone to anger, desperately trying to control himself- and even shows off some mad Capoeira and Parkour skills in one segment.
Liv Tyler is absolutely perfect as Betsy Ross, and is much warmer, and more accessible than Connelly was in the earlier film. I also think William Hurt nailed Thunderbolt Ross- which is not a surprise, as Hurt is one of the best actors out there. For his part, Tim Roth makes a wicked Emil Blonsky, and brings some surprising wit to the film (and also has the best line in the film at one point- you`ll know it when you see it). I also loved seeing Tim Blake Nelson turn up in a small but pivotal role which nicely sets up a potential sequel.
As for the Hulk himself- the CGI is absolutely outstanding. I always thought the Hulk looked pretty rubbery in the first film (kinda like Gumby on steroids), but is this film he looks more veiny and life-like. He also looks quite a bit like Norton, which was a nice touch. The CGI in the trailers looked pretty weak, but those must have been unfinished shots- as the effects work in the film itself is top notch. Even Abomination looks life-like and cool, and the climactic battle is probably the best final fight in a superhero movie so far.
It’s also nice that in this film, the Hulk actually looks mad in the fight scenes- which is the whole point. He feeds off anger- so naturally he should look angry-right? Particularly awesome is an action scene towards the middle of the film where the Hulk fends off an attack using a couple of Humvee doors. Director Louis Letterrier may not have the pedigree of Ang Lee, but the guy really knows how to stage an action scene- and also gives the film a lean, fast pace (the film runs just a shade under two hours). I also really dug Craig Armstrong`s symphonic score- which was a nice change as one of the few problems I had with IRON MAN was that the score sounded like a generic Hans Zimmer rip-off.
Make no mistake folks, THE INCREDIBLE HULK is every bit as entertaining as IRON MAN. I swear I will never again doubt Marvel Films, and I may even forgive them for SPIDERMAN 3, THE FANTASTIC FOUR films, GHOST RIDER, and ELEKTRA (well, maybe not ELEKTRA- that was pretty damn bad...) and if all the upcoming films from Marvel Films are as good as this one- than bring it on folks!