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When Ang Lee directed "Hulk" in 2003, he was going for something different. He was attempting to humanize and naturalize a film based on a comic book. He was attempting to take the popular preconceived ideas of how "Hulk" should be and throw them in a new direction. For many people, he failed miserably. Hard core comic book fans were more than a little upset at Lee's unfaithful re-telling of the story they loved. As a film, however, "Hulk" was pretty 'incredible'. It was one of the most heartfelt and genuine comic book adaptations I have seen, and it felt the most like a comic book come to life on screen. So, when I heard they were remaking the film, I was at a loss. I didn't think it needed remaking. In fact, I thought "Hulk" was pretty close to how it should be, regardless of how accurate the film was compared to the original source material. But, Hollywood will be Hollywood and will chase a buck whenever it can. What resulted was "The Incredible Hulk", directed by the great French director, Louis Letterier, and featuring a star studded cast. It comes from the guys over at Marvel Entertainment who, along with "Iron Man", have really started to bring their whole Marvel Universe into fruition, one film at a time. "The Incredible Hulk" has the same feel to it as "Iron Man" did, a sordid sense of humor and some amazing action sequences. It also has a lead actor who carries the film, this time in the form of Academy Award nominated actor Edward Norton. I had a blast with "The Incredible Hulk", but I think Ang Lee's version had more power.
Most of us are familiar, at least somewhat, with the story. Scientist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) was experimenting with gamma rays on himself, which mutated his blood, causing him to turn into a large green monster whenever he becomes angry. This film opens with that as prologue. Banner is hiding out in Brazil from the United States government. His former love, Betty (Liv Tyler) is still a biologist at Culver University. Her father, General Ross (William Hurt), will stop at nothing to find Bruce and use his powers as a weapon. Ross recruits soldier Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) from the British government to help locate Banner, and that is when things get interesting. Banner ends up back in the States, hiding out with Betty, as Blonsky injects himself with Banner's blood to get an extra boost in battle. Eventually, Blonsky transforms into Abomination, with the help of the eager scientist, Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson). The primary plot line of "The Incredible Hulk" revolves around Banner attempting to control the beast within and find a cure for what he considers to be an illness. It also revolves around General Ross' determination to find Banner and see that he is researched for the good of the government. Throughout, there are several battle sequences that show off the Hulk's brute strength and the inability of anyone or anything to stop him.
This film comes alive in the performances. Edward Norton brings a vulnerability and a realism to the role of Bruce Banner that Eric Bana (in "Hulk") just didn't possess. Norton's scenes as Bruce are tender and touching and real. He works well with the actors around him. As Betty, Liv Tyler is luminous and brings just the right blend of humor and heart. William Hurt is the perfect choice for General Ross and really lights up the screen with a villainous zeal. Tim Roth has all the fun in the world as Blonsky, and Tim Blake Nelson steals the show in a very small appearance. And look for the 'original' Bruce Banner, Mr. Lou Ferigno, playing a security guard. The performances in this film are top notch and are what drive this film over the edge. But, the action sequences also measure up in a big way, especially the end battle between Hulk and Abomination. That is just one damned fine sequence right there. And, at the very end of the film, we get a surprise visit from another hero in the Marvel Universe who adds one more mysterious piece to the "Avengers" puzzle.
As for as comparing "The Incredible Hulk" to "Hulk", it's apples and oranges. They are both two completely different takes on the character. What I admired about "Hulk" was the real humanity in the storyline and in the performances. There was a weird psychological depth to the relationship between Eric Bana and Nick Nolte that just riveted me. With "The Incredible Hulk", you do get depth of character, but not the same kind of chemistry you had with "Hulk". Oddly enough, I also thought the special effects in "Hulk" were better than these effects, five-years-later. Edward Norton makes a more convincing Bruce Banner than Eric Bana and William Hurt a better General Ross than Sam Elliott. But, I missed Jennifer Connelly as Betty and I missed Nick Nolte a hell of a lot. Ang Lee gets a lot of flack for his version of the story, but I think it is superior. That said, "The Incredible Hulk" is still one hell of an enjoyable time. You get to hear him say, "Hulk Smash!" and you get a slick reference to those purple shorts and you get a lot of Marvel inside jokes that play out very well. Fans of the comic book will absolutely enjoy this one better than "Hulk".
In conclusion, "The Incredible Hulk" lives up to the adjective associated with its name. It was the true definition of a Summer blockbuster and it made me smile like a kid throughout. There have been rumors about Edward Norton not supporting this film, and if any of those are true, they should not be because there is nothing to be ashamed of with this motion picture. And, unlike "Iron Man", it gets its story and action told in under two-hours, which was very much appreciated. One of the only problems I had with "Iron Man" was that it was just too long. So, if you are a fan of the comic book, you will likely love "The Incredible Hulk". If you approach it from a cinematic standpoint alone, Ang Lee's picture is going to be better every time. Kudos to Marvel Entertainment for keeping their streak of quality films alive and well. I am excited to see what comes from them next and how they tie everything in together. It must be an exciting time to be working in comic books and in comic books translated to film. "The Incredible Hulk" smash good.
It stands to reason that I would be fanatical about catching this movie. Ever since that atrocity in 2003 that Ang "If I can't pull off a gimmick, it's not an action movie" Lee shoved down our throats and called "Hulk" was released, I prayed for months on end that they'd give the Hulk another chance at the big screen; a faithful sequel given to us by a semi-decent director, is that too much to ask? Well, I'd thought it was until Marvel had announced one better: A complete re-boot of the series, completely ignoring Lee's shit-bag and giving the fans what they truly wanted, a faithful film adaptation of their favorite heroes story... ahhhh... what a legendary idea that was... and how it paid off...
Review by Ginose
Added: June 11, 2008
Having been lucky enough to win a pass to a pre-showing of this film, a friend of mine invited me along, and, after the 2 hour wait, we finally got to sit down and enjoy Marvel's latest in, what I hope to be, a very long series of comic-faithful, well-driven action films... and, I promise you, this was certainly no let-down (not even with the amazing "Iron Man" preceding this one).
We begin our story with our good friend Bruce Banner, living his solitary life in Brazil (he'd dodged the military for long enough to escape to this calm environment where he may continue his studies, hopefully finding a cure for his "condition"). He has a job in a soda-bottling plant, fair enough, but, after a small incident causes a drop of his blood to wind up in a soda bound for the U.S., it's not long before the Army is hounding him to his new home. Bruce is forced to flee back to the States, in hopes of getting hold of the research data that he and Betty Ross had been working on together... hopefully to be used by a mysterious online acquaintance (named "Mr. Blue") to help him in discovering a cure for Bruce's... well... "condition" (that is, in case you were wondering, the ability to transform into a giant, seemingly invincible, green monster whenever he gets too excited, upset or... well... any emotion, really).
Again, my vague description is essential in not spoiling some of the best action sequences ever to be featured in a superhero movie. I know, a lame excuse, but I'm being honest. Everything from the fights against the Army to the fight against Abomination is done with an amazingly beautiful amount of style and a brilliant cinematography. The CGI is definitely no broken-shot, either. All of the effects looked beyond natural, almost realistic at times, especially the Hulk, himself, during many of the action scenes.
Edward Norton did an excellent job in picking up the character of Bruce Banner (but, let's face it, it's not like he didn't have everything working in his favor long before he actually decided to do it), providing a perfect blend of drama with the gracious amounts of comedy that Marvel movies are coming to be known for. He really took control of nearly every scene he was in, as opposed to Liv Tyler, who (although not bad) really didn't do much to the character of Betty Ross... not to mention, as always, she tried to demand too much out of her character, almost like she was... *Gasp* trying to outshine the rest of the cast! Who'd have guessed!?
I more than approve of the clever decision of leaving the previous film as buried as its reviews forced it to be, because, had it not been, there's no way this one would have been able to survive if it didn't go it's own way with the plot, and I, for one (and I'm sure will soon be "of the many")am DAMN glad they did. There really isn't a scene wasted in this movie, if it wasn't adding to character development then it was blowing your mind with the awesome action scenes.
8.7/10. I highly advise this to anyone who's interested in the Hulk, comics or just action in general. It definitely looks as if comic movies are getting back into the niche they deserve to be, and Marvel's back in top game. Let's hope "The Dark Knight" looks as good, if not better.
- added 06/11/2008, 01:45 PM
Great! The first one was boring, and basically
just down right sucked. I like the cast they have
for this one, I may check it out.
- added 06/11/2008, 04:01 PM
First off, let me say how excited I am to see
"The Incredible Hulk" Thursday night. I
think Edward Norton is the perfect choice for
Bruce Banner and the damned supporting cast is
just phenomenal. I think Marvel has got a good
thing going. All that said, I enjoyed Ang Lee's
interpretation -- and, that's exactly what it was
-- an interpretation. I loved the mood of the
film and the emotion and Nick Nolte. Thought it
was a fine film.
- added 06/13/2008, 01:34 PM
This makes me forget all about the original being
so bad. But I do love ALL comic movies (even
Elektra) so this would've gotten a 10/10 from me
- added 07/03/2008, 11:51 AM
Well, the only reason I actually went out to
watch this movie was because Lou Ferrigno was
That HULK SMASH line?
That's all him, baby.
- added 11/02/2008, 11:35 PM
I thought that the majority of the storyline was
much too typical of all the other superhero movies
- it almost felt like I was watching pieces of
this movie, a little of that, and a dash of that
other one. It wasn't bad, mind you, I just kept
getting that "been there already"
feeling. I also thought that the final "days
without incident" scene was incredibly corny
and really should have been left on the cutting
With that said, the fight
between Hulk and Abomination was completely badass
and easily tacked a few points onto my final score
by itself. 7/10 sounds about right.
- added 11/03/2008, 01:42 AM
I also found that cheesy tacked-on ending
sequence to be a drag on the films climax... but
considering what a train wreck the first film was,
I was just grateful that some of the visceral
thrill of the comic book series was present in
I would generally give
the film a solid 7.5... but because I am a bit of
an old-school Hulk fan, I can slip it another half
point for nostalgia;)
So, I'll award this
Marvel film a generous 8/10. Sure,.. the
computerized Hulk was a bit rubbery at times (as
was Liv Tyler's acting) and the Abomination was a
disappointing revision... but in general, this
film more than delivered what a great comic book
film adaption should... a good, old-fashioned
- added 03/14/2009, 02:08 PM
Eons better than the first one, but still not
that much different than all the other fluffy
comic book movies.
- added 02/21/2010, 09:38 PM
Much better than the first one. I'm going to
have to agree with Greg on Liv Tyler's acting as
well, she sucked, but the rest was fun. 8/10