The Incredible Hulk

It’s been five long years since Ang Lee’s Hulk hit theaters and the negative press surrounding the iteration still lingers amongst fans and movie goer’s alike. The announcement of The Incredible Hulk film brought forth a lot of speculation and early criticism. Many doubted the quality of the film. The release of the teaser trailer did not bring forth much praise due to unfinished visuals and the assumption there was only one major action sequence in the film and it took place at the end. Many remained either on the fence or negative side of spectrum… Until the full trailer hit and Marvel and Universal began pumping out clips and various marketing features that won many fans over through time. I hung in there despite the negative backlash and the bad press at first and I’m glad I did. I can honestly say that The Incredible Hulk was a incredible iteration to the series and a more than acceptable way to reboot the character and breath new life into a franchise thought to be dead.

The premise to The Incredible Hulk begins with Banner (played by Edward Norton) in hiding from General Ross (played by William Hurt) who seeks to dissect and utilize the power within Banner as a weapon. Banner, on the other hand, wishes to be rid of the monster inside of him and seeks the cure to his curse. A slip up causes his location to be unveiled and a chase sequence ensues that leads up to the first transformation and appearance of The Hulk. It’s well built up and paced to a degree that did not fall into the same rut as the first film did. This film is about The Hulk, plain and simple. It’s not “The Incredible Bruce Banner”. While Banner does have a fair share of screen time, Louis Leterrier does not forget the roots of The Incredible Hulk and delivers a pulse pounding and action packed installment the fans have longed to see for quite some time. The film does adapt a few of the concepts and and ideals placed within the television series and I found myself induced with a feeling of nostalgia all the way through it. I’ve always enjoyed the television series of The Hulk since it brought forth a interesting take on the character that brought that sense of loneliness and desire Banner had to rid himself of the monster within. And yet the monster he deemed a curse also proves to be a blessing in some cases as well.

The film’s primary focus is upon Banner in his search for a cure and the various twists and turns that ensue as the military attempts to seize and stop him from completing the task he has ahead of him. The film’s opening credits serves as a brief overview of past events and allows the audience to be caught up with what is happening at the beginning of the story rather than to stop and have to go through the long process of establishing the origins behind the character. I found this to be a clever and overall beneficial in Marvel’s attempt to reestablish the character and yet not completely go against Ang Lee’s Hulk as well. In other words, the film neither denies nor encourages the previous Hulk film. It simply ignores it and realigns The Hulk to his core and roots fans are familiar with.

The Incredible Hulk was made with the fans in mind. References to other events and points of interest in the Marvel Universe are made within the film that allows the audience to see parts of the bigger picture that will happen in future Marvel films. This is due to the newly formed branch within Marvel that will handle all Film affairs and encourage a streamlined Marvel Universe on the big screen for fans and quality control as well. Fans of the television show will also be happy with certain aspects taken directly from the original series and placed within the film. Though to be fair, the television show did take a lot of cues from the original comic book as well. The film is essentially a mix of both with a few unique characteristics intertwined to aid in carving it’s own identity within the various mediums of entertainment The Hulk is featured in. Moments such as the cameo appearance of Lou Ferrigno and Stan Lee or Banner’s eyes turning Green as he transforms into The Hulk are ways the film provides nods of appreciation to the television and comic book series and makes the film even more of a treat and fun ride for fans.

The cast in The Incredible Hulk is top notch all the way around. Edward Norton fills in the shoes of Bruce Banner in a brilliant and fitting manner. Both him and Liv Tyler (who plays Betty Ross) have a good amount of chemistry together and interact well. There’s multiple genuine moments throughout that granted a chuckle or two as a result. One in particular that was rather genius involved Liv Tyler’s character enraged at a taxi cab driver and yelling at the individual while Banner whom is calm and collective at this point offers her some tips to control her anger in a mocking sort of way. It was rather ironic and the moment shared between the two helped further establish the characters and the scale of their history. Granted, it’s all acting and none of these individuals on screen actually have a history together. But the delivery really made you feel the depth and help grasp a better understanding of Norton and Tyler’s characters and further amplify the overall experience as a whole.

The villain this time around is Emil Blonsky (played by Tim Roth) or “The Abomination” as he is blatantly not labeled as in the film. He starts out as a agent working under General Ross who is sent in to capture Banner at the beginning of the film and later becomes obsessed with catching Banner and obtaining the power he holds within. He is injected with a serum that gives him power above an average human but still not quite up to par with The Hulk, which is demonstrated in a sickeningly twisted scene later on in the film. By the end, The Abomination’s full form is unveiled and a roughly 20 minute fight sequence takes place between The Hulk and The Abomination. It’s brutal, intense, and a overall impressive display of physical and digital special effects. Though the digital effects are not without their own issues from time to time…

The only complaint I can really muster is the inconsistency of the CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) within the film. It was an odd sight to see the special effects go from photo realistic to lackluster from time to time. Granted, their not terrible by any means necessary. But I could clearly see which shots had more time and attention drawn to them than others present in the final cut. Rhythm and Hues did a rather impressive job on the film and went above and beyond my expectations on the final product’s special effects. I was originally far from thrilled when Rhythm and Hues was originally announced as the studio heading the special effects for The Incredible Hulk based upon their track record (Garfield, Scooby Doo, Cats and Dogs, and other mediocre moments of special effects). Though the studio proved they could deliver a more frightening and weighted version of The Hulk. I usually find myself withdrawn from the action present on the screen when multiple heavily induced CGI characters interact. The Incredible Hulk surprised me because of the depth and emotion each character displays via the motion capture technique. They interact, talk, and display facial features in a lifelike manner that never enters the uncanny territory (read: artificial) nor does it kill the sense of realism the film delivers upon.

The Incredible Hulk runs at a fast pace from start to finish and never slows down to take a break except at a couple key scenes that further fleshes out the depth to the monster within. It features a well crafted villain and while Blonsky does not quite measure up to Dock Ock or The Joker in terms of depth, he is by far not a lackluster villain and is a interesting opposition to The Hulk. The script is written in a much more solid manner than Marvel’s other Summer blockbuster known as Iron Man. Granted, I was one of the few severely displeased with Iron Man because of it’s terrible flaws and surprised by the unworthy praise it managed to garner… But that still doesn’t excuse the fact that Blonsky is a much better villain overall than the shallow, dull, and poorly crafted Iron Monger featured in the Iron Man film adaption released roughly a month and a half ago. Though the film also has given me a newfound appreciation for Iron Man in some aspects as well.

The only other disappointing point of interest that comes to mind was the removal of Captain America’s cameo appearance. Letterrier described the cameo in the below quote…

“There’s a point when Bruce Banner gives up on his quest for the cure and decide to kill himself. So he travels far North and reaches the Arctic Circle. You might have seen bits of it in some of the promos. The result was a very dark and strong scene, which Marvel, me and everyone else’s considered to be too hard to young audiences to take, so we’ve cut it. Having that said, when Bruce arrives at his destination he meets up with Captain America! At some point this week, we will make it available on the internet  but I cannot tell you where or when and the material will definitely be on the DVD.”

The scene would have added more depth to just how desperate Banner is to rid himself of The Hulk and yet make the character more human. Suicide is something I think everyone has thought about on either a casual or serious manner and in some shape or form in their lifetime. And in placing that scene within the film it further makes Banner relatable to the audience by making him more human and realistic. It’s not something that would have made or break the film but it is rather disappointing none-the-less. I can see why Marvel and Letterrier opted to remove the scene since it is a rather dark subject , even for a PG-13 film.

All and All, The Incredible Hulk is a impressive reboot to the character that brings a better sense of balance between The Hulk and Bruce Banner. Clever moments of dialogue and well crafted action sequences are mixed together in a compelling manner that helps drive the pacing forward. There’s countless moments that will impress and grab fans while also catering to the casual crowd in certain aspects as well. It’s a fun a much more enjoyable ride than Ang Lee’s Hulk. Marvel’s off to a very impressive start with their newly formed production studio dedicated to it’s film properties. I look forward to seeing more of this initiative to bring The Avengers to the big screen and what Marvel has planned for The Hulk in the future as well.

Pro’s: Brings the character back to it’s roots, impressive action sequences, pulse pounding pace, clever moments of dialogue, top notch acting, never skips a beat or loses it’s sense of balance, and offers plenty of fan moments for those familiar with the character and TV series.

Con’s: CGI is inconsistent at times, a couple odd moments in terms of acting, and the removal of Captain America’s cameo was disappointing.

Conclusion: The Incredible Hulk fixes the errors of it’s predecessor and provides a entertaining, action packed, and overall epic ride filled with plenty of moments for the fans and further helps drive the Marvel Universe within the film medium forward.

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One Response to “The Incredible Hulk”

  1. I can’t wait to see the footage with captain america in.

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