>> The Incredible Hulk (7.5/10)

Incredible HulkLet’s answer the big question first; the one everyone will be asking, “Is The Incredible Hulk better than Ang Lee’s Hulk?” Yes. If by “better”, you mean louder, faster, more exciting, more thrilling, and way cooler than the 2004 version, then, yes, it is better. However, if your definition of “better” includes more Nick Nolte speeches and monster poodles, then you should probably stay home.

In 2004, the hype machine was in full effect, and earned that Hulk film a decent opening weekend gross, which then saw a monstrous plummet in its second week. This told Marvel that people liked the Hulk and would pay to see a Hulk film, but it also signified that, in general, folks didn’t like that particular movie. There was no repeat business and it was way too boring for the kiddies. With Louis Letterier’s The Incredible Hulk, we have the rare case of a studio taking a mulligan. Can Marvel replicate the initial acceptance of the Hulk as a film hero, while creating something new that people will like (because, after all, films people like make money)?

I think they’ve succeeded, and I hope people like this film, partly because I did, as a Hulk fan and as a movie fan, but also because Marvel Studios is really trying to create movies somewhat similar to modern episodic TV in a sense–laying the groundwork for a large-scale story with no definitive end in sight, I applaud this move from a creative standpoint because it may be just the thing to start getting people back into theatres. Create characters and situations that carryover from film to film, not in the way sequels do, but in a serialized format. Besides that, Marvel seems to have a good knack at creating crowd-pleasing product that doesn’t feel like it panders to any one crowd. As different as The Incredible Hulk might be from Iron Man or X-Men, there’s still romance, action, drama, and wit. Marvel seems to have perfected that particular formula, and they’re building a lasting dynasty out of great popcorn cinema.

Edward Norton is Bruce Banner this time out, and the film starts in South America, where Banner searches for a cure to his gamma radiation-spawned, rampaging alter ego, He’s pursued by General “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt), who has enlisted the help of crack field agent Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) to capture Banner for further study. Ross chases Banner back to the United States, and decides to let power mad Blonsky in on some top secret genetic enhancements, to better take down the Hulk. Banner soon reunites with ex-flame Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) to follow a trail to a New York geneticist that just may have the cure Banner seeks.

The film has an obvious lower budget than Ang Lee’s version, but that doesn’t stop it from stomping all over that film in regards to the action. Remember that desert battle with the Army from the first Hulk? There are a handful of scenes that are like that here, and each one is singularly better than that desert battle. We are talking way more bang for the buck. Hulk is a scary dude–a roaring, thrashing, screaming, throwing, punching, kicking, writhing muscle-mountain of green. If that sounds like your thing, then this is a must see.

It doesn’t tell the most compelling story in the world, but what it lacks in plot intricacies, it makes up for with creative touches like the handling of Banner’s post-traumatic stress disorder, memorable creature design, and lots of comic references for the geeks. Marvel’s on a roll, and they have to be feeling pretty good about things right about now. They can keep ’em coming every Summer, as far as I’m concerned. These films are the closest to a “sure thing” at the cinema right now, and while I sometimes lament predictability, I also like to get what I pay for. If you’re curious about The Incredible Hulk, you’ll get romance, action, drama, and wit. You’ll get what you paid for.

7.5 on a 1 to 10 scale

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4 Comments

  1. How’d the Q&A go? Any interesting tidbits? You weren’t by any chance a tad inebriated to impare your judgment were you? Destruction always looks better on booze.

  2. Some really bad questions from the audience…

    The only newsworthy tidbit was Gale Ann Hurd dismissing any of the talk that Norton was unhappy.

  3. to me “incredible hulk” felt more like a business venture than a movie to me. i know that movie-making is a business, but it feels like this film is manufactured for the sole purpose of having its latest installment hit the multiplex every other year.

    this movie lacked real emotions. whenever a joke was cracked it felt out of place to me. i found myself alternately bored and amused by “hulk,” but i was bored a bit more often than i should’ve been. technically, it’s a perfectly functioning action film that poses many unanswered quesitons (presumbaly for the 2010 incarnation).

    creatively, “hulk” seems content to wade in the shallow end of the pool while other comic-inspired films tackle larger issues.(“spider-man,” chris nolan’s “batman,” and even singer’s “superman”)

  4. To a degree I agree w/ Eddie. I may actually be one of the few that prefers Ang Lee’s version of the story. While this film probably fits into the universe better (I wouldn’t know) and seems more in the direction that Marvel Studios is planning to go, this film was about half as interesting as Ang’s HULK. I actually even preferred Ang’s action sequences over Letterrier’s, minus the Abomination fight scene which was definitely a step above the anti-climactic battle between Hulk and his Dad in Ang’s film.
    I do prefer Ed Norton as Banner over Bana, but I thought his entire supporting cast was a step down from HULK.


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