Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Did we really need another ‘Incredible Hulk’ movie just a mere five years after the last one? Well… yes and no. You see I’m one of those that actually liked the first Hulk movie directed by Ang Lee, and I actually have a copy of it staring me in the face right now as I plan to revisit this film in a couple of days for prosperity’s sake. I remember the short comings of the first film in that, for a superhero flick, it was slow and it was relatively long, and similar to the first Superman movie The Hulk didn’t show up until the movie was half over – without the benefit of Marlon Brando to tide us over. The reason this new Hulk movie is necessary isn’t because it’s a better film than the first one, because I don’t think it is - though it is a more ‘crowd pleasing’ movie, but due to the fact that Marvel Studios is producing it, this is a film that stays closer to the comic legend of The Hulk and more importantly will also present some glorious film making opportunities down the road as we were able to witness in this films final scene.

Forget about all that exposition and back story stuff because whatever happened during the gamma ray accident that turned Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) into The Hulk is covered during the opening title sequence. Our movie starts in Brazil where Dr. Banner is hiding out doing research via the Internet with an unseen benefactor back in the states attempting to cure his beast within. It’s been months since his last incident as Dr. Banner has learned to control his anger but a slight slip up has alerted his arch enemy, General ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross (William Hurt) to his whereabouts. To that end General Ross has assembled a crack staff of commandos, which includes aging warhawk Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), to secure, sedate and capture Dr. Banner. They fail to secure Banner before his pulse rate ramps up which of course brings the big green beast to life who in turn opens up a severe can of whoopass on these poor commandos. Blonsky however liked what he saw and wants to know how he can be down.

Turns out the pacifist Banner was unwittingly working on a Super Soldier program with his lover and partner Dr. Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) when he unwisely tested it on himself with less than favorable results, at least from his perspective. The General on the other hand was overjoyed with the results the Doctor and his daughter came up with and needs Banner alive so his body can be mined for information. Eventually Banner makes his way back to the States and back into the arms of Betty, though she was with someone else at the time, a psychiatrist named Dr. Samson (Ty Burrell), who gets kicked to the curb in short order despite another spectacular Hulk flare-up. Eventually Dr. Banner discovers the identity of his mysterious cohort helping him with a cure, an odd geneticist by the name of Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson) who believes he has a cure. Blonsky on the other hand under the order of General Ross has taken some measured amounts of this Super Soldier serum which has turned the clock back considerably, making him stronger and faster than ever, but it ain’t enough. Blonsky wants what Banner has and when he gets it he transforms into the Hulk-like Abomination without the Banner-like inner calm to keep him under some control. New York City is now the battleground and General Ross understands that there is only one creature on the planet who has any hope of bringing and end to the Abomination, who is killing with extreme prejudice, and that’s the man he hates more than anything, Bruce Banner and the Hulk. The fight is heading uptown to 157th so obviously there’s about to be Hell up in Harlem.

There are a number of things that make this version of ‘The Incredible Hulk’ cool and a lot has to do with those of us who have read the comic. When we meet Samuel Sterns, we know that eventually he will be come The Leader and when we meet the gentle Psychiatrist Leonard Samson we know eventually he will become Doc Samson if they so choose, and if they really want to get busy shoot Betty Ross with some Gamma radiation and turn her into The Harpy. Another thing that makes this movie cool is the inclusion of a legitimate Hulk villain in The Abomination which gave us some fantastic CGI destructive visuals featuring other nice elements like the Hulk Sonic Clap and the always favorite line ‘Hulk Smash!’ Director Louis Leterrier and screenwriter Zak Penn put in everything that was necessary to please fans of the comic and also to create a fast moving, pop corn munching, action filled superhero movie.

However… similar to the first movie when we got away from the green monster things weren’t all that great. It was a big deal that Edward Norton, a great actor, was taking over the role of Bruce Banner but quite honestly he really didn’t do much and he also failed to make any kind of connection between Banner and the Hulk. All things considered I’d also have to say that Jennifer Connolly and Sam Elliot made for a better Betty and Thunderbolt Ross as well. The first film did take the time to tell a story, though many didn’t like the way it was told, but this one had story elements which seemed only to serve the purpose of linking together the various action set pieces, which were admittedly spectacular.

I did enjoy this movie because I like watching stuff blow up and looking at big ugly monsters beat the snot out of each other as much as the next guy, hell, probably more than the next guy, and also by being a fan of the comic book it’s good see a large number of the comic book elements retained. And I will admit that I don’t miss those mutated poodles either. ‘The Incredible Hulk’ isn’t a great movie and it does lack the polished class and flash of the ‘Iron Man’ movie from a few weeks back but its still one heckuva of an entertaining time waster. Bring on The Avengers!

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