The Incredible Hulk

14 06 2008

The Incredible Hulk Poster

Theatrical Release: 13 June 2008

Running Time: 112 minutes

Websites: Official Site, IMDB Page, Wikipedia Article

Let me start off by saying that I will try and keep comparisons with the 2003 movie Hulk to a minimum. Let me just start by saying that this movie is so much better. I mean, it even says “Incredible” right there in the title. Or maybe it is better because the Hulk has gotten his incredible back.

Well the backstory of The Hulk is pretty much general knowledge to everybody (the movie producers seem to agree with me on this one, because the whole story is told via a series of flashbacks in the start of the movie) but I will recap it just in case you haven’t heard of it. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton), receives an accidental dose of Gamma Radiation that causes him to transform into a hulking green giant when his heart rate reaches 200 beats per minute. Now he must try and tame the beast inside him while looking for a way to cure himself of the dreaded creature that lives inside of him.

Ok, I’m going to make another comparison here to the OTHER Hulk movie. While the 2003 version focused a lot more on the whole “Who am I? What is this thing that lives inside me? I’m so full of angst” version of the story, this is more of a “pure” comic book adaptation, meaning that there is more action, better visual effects and less dialogue.

So we have Bruce Banner, the wayward scientist who has isolated himself in Mexico to escape the U.S. military (Led by General “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt)) which is chasing him and to try and find a cure at the same time. However, he cuts himself at his job at a Mexican bottling plant and some of his “Hulkified” blood finds it’s way to the U.S. in a soda bottle. The hapless standard Marvel-comic-book-movie-adaption-cameo of Stan Lee drinks the soda and the military is alerted to Banner’s presence by way of the the tell tale gamma radiation poisoning. (Incidentally for those old enough to remember it, Lou Ferrigno, who played The Hulk in the 1977 TV series called The Incredible Hulk, also has a cameo in the movie as a security guard.)

This in essence really starts the movie, as the game of cat and mouse between Banner and the Hulk and the military really starts going. We are also introduced to the character of Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) who acts as The Hulk’s antagonist. First introduced as an elite agent on loan specially to the military to capture Banner, he is quickly given special treatment (that was originally developed on Captain America, incidentally) to become stronger, faster and more agile. When this does not help him to capture The Hulk, he eventually exposes himself to a dose of the same Gamma Radiation as Banner, which reacts to the earlier treatment and causes him to mutate into a hideous creature known as The Abomination.

Shortly after the action packed Mexican scenes, we meet the character of Dr. Elizabeth “Betty” Ross (Liv Tyler), who was Banner’s one time girlfriend and who was injured in the first Gamma Radiation incident, when Banner first transformed. After another action packed battle, The Hulk escapes with Betty and when he transforms back into Banner, they go on the run together.

With all modern movies, and superhero movies in general, the visual effects are rather breathtaking. From the rain dripping down the Hulk’s green skin to the nightmarish portrayal of The Abomination and the destruction of a good portion of New York city, everything looks fantastic. There was no part really where I thought to myself “Hmm, that looks rather fake / cheap.”

Keep a look out when you are watching this movie for the cameo by Tony Stark (still played by Robert Downey Jnr.) which paves the way for upcoming (July 2011) movie, The Avengers. I really liked how they are tying all the characters together now already, it builds the anticipation (Like a 3 year long advertising campaign) and makes it more believable that they would form a superhero team. Even in Iron Man, they already started laying the groundwork for a crossover in the form of showing us the formation of S.H.I.E.L.D., which plays a role in The Incredible Hulk, and in the form of Tony Stark talking about “forming a team”, referring to The Avengers. Subtle nuances, but I liked it.

There is also further foreshadowing for a possible sequel when a professor is accidentally exposed to Banner’s blood, and the mutation of his head begins, thus foreshadowing his role as The Leader, an antagonist of The Hulk in the comic books. The final scene also screamed “Sequel!”, which shows Banner meditating, then a closeup of his eye turning into The Hulk’s green, and a smile filling Banner’s face, thus implying that he has learnt to control the transformation.

The characters were all believable and Norton’s portrayal of The Hulk was actually very good. I’d say just a little under Downey Jnr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark, but still very good. Liv Taylor’s character had little plot development other than being Banner’s love interest and General Ross’ daughter. I think that the director deliberately downplayed the daughter part in order to maximise the attention on The Hulk. The General’s character is also very well done, kinda of one dimensional in his determination to capture Banner and study what he carries inside him, but he also has a softer side when he realises that The Hulk is the only chance they have of stopping The Abomination.

Of special commendation is Roth’s portrayal of the maniac Blonsky. At first, he just wants to get the job done. But after suffering a defeat at the hands of The Hulk, he desires revenge and goes to extreme lengths to achieve this. By the end of the movie, dementia has fully taken hold of him, and there is little left of the character which we met at the start of the movie. I wonder if the portrayal of The Abomination even counts as Roth’s performance? Hmm. Either way the character himself was very well written, and the descent into madness was strangely believable.

Mmmm, what else is there to say? The story was kind of predictable, but I can’t fault it for that, because you already know that the “good guy” is going to triumph and the day will be saved, more or less. The action scenes were incredible, and … well … action packed, which is good. All in all a pretty good movie, one which you should definitely see. My prediction is that you will enjoy it.

Ok so here’s the score, using my new scoring system. I realised that I was giving a lot of half scores IE 4.5 or 3.5, and I figured instead of telling you that I wanted to give a half score, why not just use a 10 scale with no half points? I thought about it and realised that it made a lot more sense to do it that way. So here’s the initial “Bet This Is Original Reviews” 10 score … <drumroll> <trumpet fanfare> … 7 out of 10. Go see it, you won’t regret it.

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One response

2 09 2008
Lilly Web

I have heard fantastic things about this movie, going t wait for it to come to DVD, which I am sure would be much better on the big screen, but I do like the comfort of my own home and couch.

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