Published on June 17th, 2008 |
by Erich Becker
Review: The Incredible Hulk
Completely thrust the abomination of Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk film from your mind, and if you aren’t able to, viewing Louis Leterrier’s 2008 version of The Incredible Hulk will certainly do it for you. Whether or not you are teetering on the ragged edge if this film inherits anything from its predecessor, be rest assured that this cinematic version of the Hulk character is infinitely better in every way. Fans of the comic book and TV show will be instantly drawn in to a modern, faithful telling of the superhero and his origins complete with nods, nostalgia, and a sad piano number.
The movie does right by not changing the origins of The Incredible Hulk too much, even going so far as to replicate scenes from the TV show, including the chair Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) experiences his accident in, and the film doesn’t spend more than a credit montage summing it all up. Unlike Iron Man, who isn’t instantly known to the common graphic novel aficionado, The Hulk is immediately identifiable and many know about the character, because you “wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.”
What the film does well is present itself as both a serious take on the character, but not brooding and emo like Lee’s version and Eric Bana’s portrayal of the titular character. Lee’s vision loved the change, whereas Norton’s wants to be rid of the green menace once and for all, to return to the love of his life Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) and return to a normal life. The film is a true reboot, maybe one of the quickest in modern times, or ever, for a series left languishing in obscurity by fans and novices alike. Here the Hulk is a more realistic nine foot, muscular beast, and while the CGI is a bit loose at times, the film is never hampered by this.
The nods for fans are frequent including the aforementioned sad piano theme from the TV show (which Marvel went out and purchased the rights for), there’s references to Bill Bixby, an appearance by Lou Ferrigno (who also provides the voice of The Hulk), hitchhiking, and the world’s worst secret cameo, Tony Stark talking about a team he’s putting together. Even future villains are set up providing enough material for a trilogy of movies, perhaps culminating in an Avengers super movie?
The story itself is lean and mean, after some initial setup in Central America, where Banner has retreated to escape General Ross (William Hurt), we’re taken directly into the action as Ross enlists Emil Blonsky (the ever capable Tim Roth) and eventually once again begins super soldier experimentation eventually culminating in the creation of Abomination and the film’s one-two punch of a climax.
The Incredible Hulk isn’t a perfect movie, and stands in the shadow clearly cast by the release of Iron Man and the looming of The Dark Knight, but as a series reboot with a clear direction and influence from the source material that made the character famous in the first place, the direction of the film couldn’t be more true than it is and it couldn’t be any more entertaining in the popcorn summer season.