The Incredible Hulk

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The Incredible Hulk
Review (7.5/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

For the second time in five years, the big green monster has made his way to the silver screen, but this time around it's been done right. "The Incredible Hulk" is probably the movie that should have been made in 2003 and maybe movie fans wouldn't still be green in the face about The Hulk in 2008. Anytime the word "Hulk" has been brought up over those years, people would moan and groan and wonder why another movie was being made after the first one was such a piece of shit, but with a stellar cast that includes Ed Norton as Bruce Banner, Liv Tyler as Betty Ross and William Hurt as General Ross, this version of the Hulk story is one that should erase what happened in 2003 from most people's memories. Or at least you would think.

The Incredible Hulk starts out with a brief history of how Bruce Banner became infected with the gamma rays and quickly jumps to his life in Brazil, where he is working as a minimum wage laborer and hiding from the U.S. Army. He has gone around 5 months without getting pissed off and turning green, but it isn't too long into the movie where all that changes and Banner rips his clothes and goes ape shit on a few Brazilians. In the meantime, we have the army bringing in one of their top soldiers, Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), to help track Banner down. Blonsky ends up injecting himself with the infected blood of Bruce Banner and himself turns into a rampaging monster named Abomination. It all comes to a head when Abomination and Hulk meet up in the streets of New York City, where they tear up the town and go head-to-head in a battle for the ages - pretty simple and straightforward.

When all was said and done, I have to say, I did like "The Incredible Hulk". I don't think I'd rank it as one of my top superhero movies of all time (is The Hulk even a superhero?) but it was chalk full of action and it was pretty damn entertaining. There wasn't much of a story and it lacked the strengths of some of the other great superhero movies but it certainly delivers in the entertainment department. I wouldn't say that Ed Norton was as charismatic a character and Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark was, but they are completely different characters and Norton does a great job portraying the much more darker and disturbed Dr. Banner. Most of the other characters were pretty shallow in terms of character development, which was a bit of a disappointment. It's too bad we didn't get to know more about some of the peripheral characters like Emil Blonsky. But really, what can you expect from a total, 100% popcorn movie.

Like I said before, it's got some great action and a pretty decent pace. There's no crazy father eating up screen time with his out of place story. No dogs on steroids. The CGI Hulk in this movie is much more appropriate this time around than he was 5 years ago. There's no growing Hulk everytime he gets hit by a bullet or gets angrier. To be honest, I felt the Hulk was much more violent and angrier this time around. They even try to address the issue of the ripping clothes by having Banner wear pants with an elastic waist (and almost have him wearing a pair of purple pants!). The movie has more than one humourous moment like this. I have to admit that I laughed when Blonsky said to Hulk, "Is that all you got?"(or something like that) and then Hulk gave him all he had. There are also some great cameo moments in the movie - Stan Lee's appearance, the Lou Ferrigino moment (damn, that guy is still in great shape), Tony Stark and even a shout out to Bill Bixby. I have to say, I was a bit surprised that Universal put out a Hulk trailer that featured Tony Stark. I guess they want to do everything they can to ensure the success of this movie and what better way than jumping on the "Iron Man" bandwagon? Still, it would have been a nice surprise to not know ahead of time he was going to be in the movie. I even hear that director Louis Leterrier has done some interviews claiming that Captain America makes an appearance but at this time, I won't confirm or deny this. You should just see the movie and figure it out yourself.

In the end, I'll give The Incredible Hulk a thumbs up in the sheer entertainment department but won't rank it up there with some of the greats. Yeah, it's a good movie, but great? I think not. It certainly is no "Iron Man" or "Batman Begins" but it's way better than, let's say, the "Fantastic Four" movies and as I said earlier, it is a better movie than Ang Lee's "Hulk". It seemed after that movie that no one wanted Lee touching any story for the rest of his life that didn't involve two cowboys, a mountain, a tent and one sleeping bag. I will say this though - I missed Jennifer Connelly. As beautiful as Liv Tyler is, she's no Connelly. Nevertheless, I'm curious to see where this franchise will go at this point. Now that they have established a base movie to work from, will there be a sequel? Will Ed Norton be back? Will Bruce Banner wear purple pants? All questions I'm sure will be answered at one point or another. Let's hope this movie gives Hulk fans something to cheer for in the present time and something more to look forward to in the future.


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