I often find myself going into a movie with mixed reviews wondering if I’m making a mistake. The Incredible Hulk was one of those movies. After the success of Iron Man, it was going to be difficult, if not impossible, for Marvel to follow it up with a second killer movie. Beyond all expectations, I think it actually succeeded.
Yes, I’m in shock too. However, this movie sucked me in by the end of the first 10 minutes. And it wasn’t the special effects. It was Edward Norton, the script, and the rest of the cast.
Here‘s the IMDb link…
Now, I enjoyed Ang Lee’s “The Hulk” from 2003. But it had its flaws. The action and story was there, but the acting and script really wasn’t. (You can see the IMDb link for that version here.) The comic book transitions were cool for a while, but they quickly grew stale. And though I’ve been in love with Jennifer Connelly forever, she couldn’t save that movie from itself.
Now move 5 years into the future when Marvel has taken control of its movie franchises… Louis Letterier directs (also directed The Transporter and Danny the Dog (aka Unleashed), which are two great movies from earlier this decade). Add in a great Zak Penn script that builds beautifully. Add in a great actor like Edward Norton and a great supporting cast — Liv Tyler (Betty Ross), Tim Roth (Emil Blonsky), William Hurt (General “Thunderbolt” Ross)… Add in some gratuitous Marvel references to the serum that created Captain America, Stark Industries from Iron Man, and a reference to what might become The Avengers movie down the line…
And you end up with a fanboy wet dream.
The trailers don’t do it justice… In fact, there’s a ton of footage that must have ended up on the cutting room floor. That’s part of Ed Norton‘s beef with this cut of the film I believe. If you watch the trailers, there’s entire scenes that aren’t anywhere in the released film. And even without those scenes, I think it works amazingly well. I will have to purchase the DVD to see the extended cut or deleted scenes.
There might be a few spoilers in what follows, so if you want to see the film with fresh eyes, I’ll understand if you quit reading. 🙂
Norton’s Bruce Banner provides us with the emotional core of the film. Everything else flows from that.
Then you have Tim Roth’s Blonsky. Blonsky is an aging military hero at the edge of his useful career in the field. He meets a worth opponent, a potentially unbeatable foe, and that becomes an obsession. It drives him power mad until he becomes his opponent, eventually turning into the Abomination.
William Hurt’s General Ross was the true Ahab of the movie. Banner/Hulk is his white whale. He loses everything in pursuit of his goal, but eventually redeems himself in the eyes of his daughter and accepts the Hulk. (Or does he…?)
Tyler’s Betty Ross is an updated model of the one from the Ang Lee movie — tough and willing to fight for what she believes in. She attracts men who also fight for what they believe in – for causes or ideals that may not be in sync with what her father believes…
But it was Banner and the strength of the script that drew me in. Careful, measured, Banner does all he can to not unleash the monster within while he searches for a cure.
One other thing I have to mention before I end this gushing review… There were a ton of nice throwbacks to the Bill Bixby series “The Incredible Hulk” that ran from 1978-1982. Watch for a cameo by Bixby (yes, even after his death he still gets work)… and one by Lou Ferrigno. And listen for the strains of the theme song from the TV series — for it’s woven into the soundtrack beautifully by Craig Armstrong, who did the rest of the music for the movie.
So I walked in thinking I’d be disappointed and walked out saying “wow” — I honestly am in shock that I enjoyed this movie as much as I did. The trailers didn’t do it justice.
I give this movie a hearty 4 out of 4. It’s going on my Christmas list.
Until next time… Go see a movie!