The Incredible Hulk (Review)

Ed quit professional baseball once he suspected steroids.

It is far too obvious a point to highlight that every time “mild-mannered” Bruce Banner gets more than a little perturbed and transmogrifies into his big green angry alter ego the Hulk that his pants seem to grow with him – although they try to humerously deal with that in this film. What is more alarming is the impact that it has on Bruce himself once he reverts back to normal form.

A few years ago Bruce Banner looked like this:

In The Incredible Hulk he looks like this:

Now it seems in upcoming films he will look like this:

Phew that process takes a toll on a man.

The original Hulk cinematic reboot from Ang Lee was ambitious, different, and flat out sucked balls worse than any long awaited film than I can remember. Even Watchmen (which was 100% “meh”) was better.

So rebooting a reboot was more than a good idea but a necessity even moreso than Batman Begins was for the Caped Crusader. The good news is that Incredible Hulk is a massive step forward in quality and credibility. We already know that the criteria for Hulkishness is going to be met, but the “Incredible”?

Let’s see…

So Bruce Banner is on the run – perhaps from the shitty first film? – in any case he has gone off the grid and lives in Brazil, having run out of credits after accidentally hurting his missus Dr Elizabeth Ross (Liv Tyler here) when in Hulk mode.

Far from being given the “Good riddance to green rubbish” line it seems that the US army lead by General Ross (William Hurt), Elizabeth Ross’s Dad is on the hunt for Banner – but more to uncover the limits of his abilities for weapons potential than trying to avenge his widdle girl.

So back to Brazil we go, Banner works in a sweaty bottling factory that makes energy drinks, and lives alone with only a dog for company in one of Brazil’s massive – yet incredibly photogenic – slums. Banner spends the days at work and the evenings learning to control his body and temper, much like Chris Brown… Realising that after months, perhaps years of testing with no breakthrough Banner has sought the assistance of an unseen expert named Mr Blue, with who he corresponds via coded messages.

After a hard day at work where Banner finds his temper tested by a man as he defends the honour of a supermodel (seriously, no chick that hot works in a bottling factory) Banner arrives home to find that Blue has perhaps found a cure for his condition. No time to gloat unfortunately as the army finally tracks him down that very night, lead by super soldier Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth).

A cool and lengthy foot chase ensues through the backstreets and rooftops of Brazil, culminating in a “could only happen in a movie” chance meeting with the man from the supermodel run-in that morning and a face-off in the very factory which was the site of the argument. Banner finds no alternative but to grow to around 15 foot of massive muscle and snarling rage – and it must be said an entirely different facial structure and haircut! – and pound piss out of his assailants and army pursuers before escaping.

A while later Banner – now back in the US to meet with Mr Blue – decides to stalk / look up (we’ll let the courts decide) Dr Ross, hereafter Betty. Betty has assumed Banner dead and hooked up again with an army dude. After a brief re-courtship she gives new guy the arse and she and Banner head off to meet Mr Blue with the army in hot pursuit.

For anyone who has seen the film or even the preview it is fair to say without spoilers that Hulk comes across a fitting adversary of similar size and perhaps even greater strength. Funnily enough even though while in Hulk mode all is computer effects the monsters are extremely realistic when in full flight, fighting or running and jumping, bullets whizz off him and an effortless flick sends grown men and even small vehicles flying – it is when simply walking around or staying static they look stilted and unnatural – not that a 15 foot tall green guy is that natural anyway!

The inevitable showdown is short but effective and I thought overall this film had an awful lot going for it, I often like comic book based films but after the debacle that was Hulk I was very wary of how this sequel might go. Liv Tyler and William Hurt are effective in what are essentially bit parts and Tim Roth is suitably macho and iron jawed as the career jarhead with a lust for MORE!

The action is confined to three basic setpieces, all quite effectively handled, there are some hulk-effacing jokes that perhaps address some of the more obvious issues one faces when summarily growing to thrice one’s size and they thankfully don’t take the Spiderman route of focusing on the media circus and attention that would occur if this stuff actually happened.

I liked Ed Norton as Banner, he has the mild mannered part down pat but is obviously not a meek pushover, and he has the brain and vocabulary that suggests he could be a genius scientist too.

We’ll just have to see how Hulk 3 works out with a new Hulk, a new director, no doubt new supporting cast and the intricate and ambitious new Marvel superhero universe.

I just hope it poses the question: could Hulk beat Captain America?

I vote yes; Captain America looks like a pussy.

Final Rating – 7.5 / 10. Good action sequences around a more realistic Hulk universe and thankfully none of those “how clever is this?” comic book panel sequences from the first film. A very good comic book adaptation.

About OGR

While I try to throw a joke or two into proceedings when I can all of the opinions presented in my reviews are genuine. I don't expect that all will agree with my thoughts at all times nor would it be any fun if you did, so don't be shy in telling me where you think I went wrong... and hopefully if you think I got it right for once. Don't be shy, half the fun is in the conversation after the movie.
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