Review 2 - Incredible Hulk, Another Look

Image from Universal and Marvel Studio's Incredible Hulk

Here’s my The Incredible Hulk review for people in a hurry.

*The CGI Hulk looks good, best in night scenes.

*Norton is a better Banner than Bana.

*The film moves a lot faster than the 2003 Ang Lee directed Hulk.

*There is a cool “preview” at the end, this time Marvel put it before the credits instead of after.

* And the movie works, not as good as Iron Man, but better than most Marvel movies.

Hulk fans are gonna love the Louis Leterrier directed Hulk.

The acting all around is solid, the special effects are make-you-duck realistic and the Zak Penn script sings.

Anyone who thought the first Hulk film slow will be glad to know that the Green Guy shows up much sooner this time, sharing more screen time with his alter-ego played perfectly by Edward Norton. The whole cast is flippin’ brilliant. William Hurt and Liv Tyler are great as father and daughter Thunderbolt and Betty Ross, but it is Tim Roth who steals the show as Emil Blonsky, before he turns into the monstrous Abomination.

That’s all you get without taking chances. I’ve tried to be discrete, but after this sentence I’ll talk about some plot points which some sensitive souls may not want to read.

Thou hast been warned.

The film is a comic lover’s dream, a smashing, rampaging green monster that does not look like something from Pixar. Whatever problems plagued the Ang Lee film’s CGI has been solved, and that’s half the battle.

The movie opens with an effective fast-clip overview of the birth of the Hulk and an introduction to the central characters. It’s five years since the first film, which is barely referenced, and Bruce Banner is living in Brazil and learning to use breathing and meditation techniques to curb his inner demon.

Things go fine until he is betrayed by a single drop of blood. Stan Lee appears early in the film in more than a walk-on role, as he learns to his horror just how powerful and life-altering even a drop of Banner blood can be.

Britisher Tim Roth is Ross’ main mean man, a Wolverine-tough soldier who leads the troops to capture a surprisingly spry and swift Banner. Of course, comic fans know that Blonsky eventually becomes the reptilian Abomination, but they will be surprised and happy about the twisted path he takes to get there.

Sharp-eyed viewers should be sure to check out the name on the super-soldier formula introduced in the film. The name looked like Dr. Weinstein to me, but it’s possible it said “Dr. Reinstein,” the code name for Doctor Abraham Erskine, who gave Steve Rogers the fabled formula. Let me know.

The fight scenes between Blonsky and the Hulk in downtown New York are brutal and effective. The times of calm between the fight scenes are nice respites as Liv Tyler does her “Beauty and the Beast” impression.

There are some nice nostalgic touches in the film, numerous homages to the television show, the recurring theme of stretching purple pants, Lou Ferrigno as the voice of the Hulk and as a security guard, "Mr. Green and Mr. Blue" and Banner watching “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.“

And boy howdy does it set up clues for a sequel. Samuel Sterns, like Stan Lee, gets a tiny taste of Hulk blood and begins to transform into a certain very high-brow character. The psychiatrist, “Leonard” with no last name, gets very upset about losing Betty Ross. And then there is the epilogue, which I will not discuss.

But it brings up something exciting that has been missing from most comic movies, Marvel or DC. Marvel continues down a unique path, making the movies interconnect much like the comics upon which they are based.

It would come as no surprise to have seen the Torch flying over the streets of New York, or Iron Man stopping by to lend a hand to Thunderbolt Ross. The references to S.H.I.E.L.D. and Stark weaponry were everywhere, indicating that this is a single universe.

First a perfect Iron Man and now an incredible Hulk. Marvel's on a roll.

 

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