Jun 2008 20

Edward Norton stars in the “reboot” of the Hulk franchise and is a solid second effort from Marvel Studios working as an independent studio.
Now, to add some background for my take on this film, I was a fan of Ang Lee’s Hulk. The action was awesome, crazy, and a bit over the top, but it worked. I also thought the Betty/Banner relationship was handled well and that both Eric Bana and Jenifer Connelly did excellent jobs. I will say the ending was a bit, ‘what the fuck’, the Hulk dogs a bit much, and the death of Josh Lucas’ character was terrible, but outside that I thought it did an alright job, especially once the Hulk is running around for the last 30 minutes or so.
With all that said, I prefer this iteration, as it is definitely a better all around film, though I think the action at the end of Ang Lee’s rivals, and might be better, than the action in this one; but just barely. The story works though, and the movie does a good job of selling the isolation of Bruce Banner as he is on the run. This film is a continuation of the first film, but not, at the same time, as they show things happened a bit different in the opening credits then they did in Ang Lee’s version. So don’t expect to watch a story about how the Hulk came to be, this is about Banner trying to get the Hulk out of him as he tries to avoid capture to be used by General Ross (William Hurt) to create super soldiers for the military.
The film follows Banner from Brazil to NYC, and apparently they left a visit to Captain America at the North Pole on the cutting room floor, as he tries to contact, “Mr. Blue”, a scientist that Banner has been in contact with researching for a cure. Banner also reconnects with his former lover Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), all while being pursued by an elite British soldier, Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) on loan in the search for Banner.
The film moves at a fairly good pace, never dragging, and the look is solid. Production values are high and the effects work is top notch, with only a couple of shaky shots that could look a bit better. The action is also solid through out with the first chase being excellent, but the connecting fight being a bit weak as they keep the Hulk in the shadows. The middle set piece is the best at the university, with the finale fight being a better finale then that of Iron Man.
The acting is top notch across the border as well. Edward Norton is Edward Norton and he carries the same quality acting he always has had into Bruce Banner. He captures the loneliness and longing Banner has as well as the fight to get rid of his “affliction.” Liv Tyler also serves as good Betty Ross, selling us on that connection that never really went away, though you can tell that her plot lines were chopped down considerably, and are a part of that 70min Norton and Leterrier wanted to keep in the film. Tim Roth does a good job as the power hungry Blonsky for most of the film, but after a certain incident with a tree, his character gets a bit weird before making the ultimate turn. William Hurt though is excellent as General Ross, and many steps above Sam Sheppard in Lee’s Hulk. Out of the three recurring and recast roles, he takes his character far and away beyond his previous counterpart; and while we are talking about it Norton and Tyler are right on with Bana and Connelly.
In the end, The Incredible Hulk is another good comic book film from Marvel Studios and is a promising start to a potential sequel, or at least a good lead in for Norton to play Banner in the Avengers film they want to make. All of the complaints people had with Lee’s Hulk have been ironed out and this is far more realistic fare. Good action, solid pacing, and great acting make this definitely worth your time if you are a fan of Norton or comic/action films. Though, I would love to see the un-truncated version of this film that Leterrier and Norton preferred; there is always the Blu-Ray.


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