The Incredible Hulk
Distributed By: Marvel Studios
Reviewed by Justine Manzano
As you may well know from previous reviews, I am a comic book nut, and, even more so, I am a comic book movie nut. Despite that, when The Hulk, directed by Ang Lee, came out in 2003 to much less than lackluster reviews, I found that I was not interested. I liked the Hulk’s story, but not enough to spend my hard-earned cash on a movie that seemed to suck. And a couple of weeks ago, I watched this version and learned that it barely touched the comic book story of the Hulk. Visually, it seemed too animated, like it was built to be a video game. So, at first I wasn’t so sure about seeing another Hulk movie. However, after sitting in Iron Man and seeing the preview for a new Hulk movie, this one entitled The Incredible Hulk, I turned to my friend and fellow Super Hero Movie nut, Kim, and said “Is it a date?” And it was. Just a couple of months later, there I was, sitting in the theater between Kim and my husband and eagerly awaiting the beginning of The Incredible Hulk. So, how was it?
Well, the story, as most people know, revolves around Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton, Primal Fear, Fight Club), a scientist who worked with his girlfriend, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler, Armageddon, Jersey Girl), on experiments involving radiation. However, their experiments go wrong and somehow, Banner turns into an irradiated monster. This monster only comes out when Banner is angry. The bulk of the movie takes place when Banner has been on the run for a few years, being chased after by U.S. General (and Betty’s father) Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt, Vantage Point, The Good Shepherd). Banner has managed to find a man who might be able to help him overcome his radiation poisoning – a scientist he knows only as Mr. Blue. But to get to the cure, Banner must meet with Blue and bring him data. Data that belongs to the U.S. Government. To accomplish this, Banner bans together with Betty, and as they work towards a cure, General Ross gets increasingly inventive in his pursuit of the big green behemoth Banner turns into when he’s angry. Wanting to use what is inside of Bruce as a weapon, he employs special ops soldier Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth, Pulp Fiction, Planet of the Apes), who has faced the monster before, to pursue the creature, injecting him with a “Super Soldier Serum” that makes him increasingly hostile. The choices Blonsky makes in that heightened state eventually leads the army to ask Banner (and the Hulk) for help and to a heart-stopping conclusion.
The Incredible Hulk could have sucked. After all, it is difficult to turn even the best comic book stories into movies and succeed and I would argue that the Hulk was not on of the best. However, this incarnation was, indeed successful. The acting was excellent. Tyler, Roth and Hurt are always interesting to watch, but naturally it was Norton who stole the show here. With sad eyes and shaky confidence, he played Banner not as a hero, but as a frightened scientist faced with power he can not control. The plot is an interesting one, pitting The Hulk against a nearly equal adversary and following a great deal closer to the plot of the comic than the previous movie or the television series can brag about. There are plenty of references to old Hulk mainstays like big purple stretchy pants and the infamous “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” line as well as a way more modern and realistic take on the entire tale. The special effects were strong and much less cartoonish than Lee’s version and the transformation into the Hulk is akin to the transformation of the werewolves in Underworld, in that both are CGI gold. The very best things, however, are the tie-ins made with Iron Man and other Marvel characters. It’s no secret, thanks to spoiler television promos, that Robert Downey, Jr. makes an appearance as Iron Man’s Tony Stark. Also, an advanced “Super Soldier Serum” is involved in the origin of the famed Marvel character and Avengers team leader, Captain America. Movie spin-off, anyone?
I have but one complaint about this super-charged film. It’s ending is three-pronged which is fine by me, or at least it would have been, if one of the parts of the ending (the big final battle) didn’t end in a lame way. Still, I found it didn’t take away much from the movie.
My final analysis? Go to see The Incredible Hulk if you like The Hulk, Norton, action or Iron Man. There may just be a combo in your future.