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THE INCREDIBLE HULK (2008) **** DVD review by SEBASTIAN

Posted on November 2nd, 2008
Posted on November 2nd, 2008

I have to say before anything else that I am a fan of Ang Lee’s “Hulk”. Its dark and brooding storyline, while occasionally failing to deliver satisfying action (mutated poodles?!!) , delivered on so many different levels that I was thoroughly intrigued and engaged, if not wowed. So when I heard of a new reboot of the Hulk, I was skeptical. These days it seems like the studios can’t make up their minds in the first place when it comes to comic book movies.

So, I didn’t go to see “The Incredible Hulk” when it opened in theaters, although I was tempted by the extraordinary “Iron Man”. I wondered if Marvel had finally gotten their act together and were going to start to put the “Marvel Universe” on screen in the way they created it. Now I wish I had gone to the cinema for this one. It blew me away. Not only has Marvel has reclaimed their properties, but they’ve gone the extra mile and made a superior action piece as well.

The characters are first rate here, as they were in the comic. Edward Norton truly owns the role of tortured scientist Bruce Banner, who becomes a hulking green monster when angered, due to a government experiment gone wrong. When I think back to 1999’s “Fight Club”, I can see how Norton was the obvious choice for this role. He plays internally conflicted characters so well. The Hulk is not so fundamentally different than Tyler Durden from “Fight Club”.

I expected to hate William Hurt’s role as General “Thunderbolt” Ross (mainly because Sam Elliot was so great in Lee’s version), but, man, was I wrong! This is the way Ross should be portrayed : cold, vicious, without remorse. A character who is not conflicted. He is in his own world. He wants what he wants and doesn’t care who gets hurt, as long as he gets it.

In the story, Gen. Ross pursues Banner, seeking to use the Hulk as a weapon. Ross had worked with Banner, planning to use their findings for a super-soldier program, until things went wrong and the Hulk was created. He makes the same mistake again when he decides to turn one of his best men, Emile Blonsky (brilliantly portrayed by Tim Roth), into a similar super-soldier, in order to catch the one that got away. Blonsky’s personality spirals out of control and he soon seeks more power.

Bruce finds an ally in Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), the general’s daughter, and Bruce’s old flame. Together they race to find a cure while avoiding the general’s soldiers.

Tyler gives a solid performance, but she’s not the focus so much as the science of the plot is. This movie is pure comic book fun, and told in that style. There are no elaborate chemical equations that need explaining here, just a lot of great gags and ideas coming together beautifully.

You may however wish the ending wasn’t quite so protracted though. The CGI is beautifully rendered, but after awhile enough is enough. I had the same problem with “Transformers”. By the time I made it to the end of the story, I didn’t want the loads of repetitive action they tossed my way. I wanted the resolve at that point.

You may also wish to forget about Tim Blake Nelson’s character here, who is not properly used. I’m really not sure why he is portrayed the way he is. Comic relief maybe?

Overall this is a great start for Marvel, and a more than acceptable companion for Iron Man. Let’s hope Kenneth Branagh can nail Thor. It’s probably the hardest property to adapt. Dr. Strange would be hard too. But without Thor, there is no Avengers. So please do the right thing Kenneth. Make Thor the epic it should be.

4 of 5 stars.

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