Published Jun 12, 2008Only five years after Ang Lees embarrassing attempt to bring the Hulk to the big screen, the franchise gets a makeover, starting with a clean slate and ignoring the existence of the 2003 poodle-fighting train wreck of a production. This time around, director Louis Leterrier, along with screenwriters Zak Penn and Edward Norton, show a true understanding of "the big green machine, portraying both the loneliness and isolation of Bruce Banner and the uncontrollable destructive rage of his alter ego, the Hulk.
The Incredible Hulk forgoes a lengthy origin story, showing Bruce Banners (Edward Norton) initial transformation in a series of vignettes during the opening credits and trusting that the audience is knowledgeable enough about the Hulks back-story to put the pieces together for themselves.
The story begins five years after Bruces transformation, as he is hiding out in Brazilian slums, on the run from the American military, searching for a cure and taking martial arts training in order to control his temper. When the military discovers his whereabouts, Bruce returns home to seek the help of Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson), a scientist familiar with his ailment. All the while Bruce is being hunted by overzealous military hit man Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) and the obsessive General Ross (William Hurt), who wants to use the power of the Hulk to create a new breed of super-soldier.
When Blonsky discovers the source of Banners transformation, he chooses to undergo the procedure, becoming the terrifying Abomination and forcing Banner to channel the strength of the Hulk towards defeating his rampaging enemy.
Like the recent Iron Man movie, The Incredible Hulk doesnt dumb down the story in a misguided attempt to appeal to a mainstream audience. Thats not to say that only comic fans will enjoy The Incredible Hulk but comic book filmmakers seem to have learned that comic book doesnt necessarily mean campy silliness.
Norton gives a top-notch performance as Bruce Banner, treating the role as seriously as any dramatic performance in his career, despite the fact that his character turns into a giant green monster. The film pays homage to the franchises history, with a cameo by TV Hulk Lou Ferrigno, a brief musical interlude of the sad walking away music from the old TV show, as well as the traditional appearance of creator Stan Lee.
Also, the brief appearance of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark (Iron Man) ties this summers two Marvel blockbusters together and further foreshadows the upcoming Avengers movie, which will feature Iron Man, the Hulk, as well as Thor and Captain America, after their movies are released over the next few years. Marvel has taken control of their intellectual property and is working hard to create and maintain production quality in order to keep fans happy, and keep these franchises going for many years to come.
This summer release calendar is so filled with superhero movies (Iron Man, The Dark Knight, Hancock, Hellboy II: The Golden Army) that audiences will need their own superpowers to see them all, but puny mortals wont be disappointed if they choose to see The Incredible Hulk over its box office rivals. Besides, if you dont go see his movie youll just make the Hulk angry, and you wouldnt like him when hes angry. (Paramount)