Here's a review I wrote for http://www.thefatherlife.com/ on the new movie "The Incredible Hulk."
By: Miguel Guadalupe
June 16, 2008
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Just landing from the highs of their recent release Iron Man, Marvel did not disappoint with The Incredible Hulk. Ed Norton plays the cursed Bruce Banner, whose initial oversight in basic scientific safety precautions condemned him to a life on the run and made him afraid of his own blood pressure. Similar to his role in Fight Club, Ed's character is in essence two – one mild mannered, one extremely dangerous. The difference of course, is that the Hulk is a physical incarnation of Banner's animalistic id, as opposed to simply a schizophrenic break.
Anger Management might have been the other title of this movie, as the theme repeats itself consistently, from Banner's clumsy Portuguese warning in Brazil ("You won't like me if I'm hungry..."), to Banner and Betty Ross's ride in a New York taxi. The reflection of the very different people we become when we are angry will make anyone question themselves the next time they are tempted to yell at the slow car in the passing lane.
As with Marvel's previous hit Iron Man, the supporting cast of characters are a small galaxy of stars, with Liv Tyler as Elizabeth (Betty) Ross, who is the only thing or person that can calm the beast in Banner, William Hurt as General Ross, the overprotective father who's ability to unleash the resources of the US Army makes for one very dangerous family feud, and Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky, an aging elite soldier who wants a bit more than to simply turn back the clock on his physical self.
Interesting plants for classic Marvel fans that show signs of paying off in the future:
- General Ross refers to "The Super Soldier Serum" developed during the World Wars, and how that was a precursor to his work. This is an obvious reference to Captain America's origins, which we may get the pleasure of knowing more about soon.
- Banner's initially helpful university professor Sam Sterns, AKA Mr. Blue, will become The Hulk's nemesis "Leader," as you saw his cerebellum grotesquely enlarge as he absorbed Banner's blood into an open head wound.
- And of course, the team referred to by the special guest at the end of the movie is none other than the Avengers.
The Marvel formula is showing signs of working: keep true to the comic character, get a VERY good actor as the central figure, and keep the supporting cast strong and engaging. The Incredible Hulk commanded the ground just as Iron Man controlled the skies, and their eventual meeting in a future episode promises to be an action-packed, star-studded blockbuster that will change the way we see comic based action movies in much the same way the Matrix series changed the way we saw science fiction.
Marvel has thankfully revived The Hulk brand from the dead, where Ang Lee and his most awful version had placed it not five years ago. Louis Leterrier does a good job in keeping true to the genre and keeping the characters real and likable. The special effects maintained the humanity of the title character, a far cry from the dark and un-seeable CGI heavy Ang Lee version. Notable mentions include the fantastic way they captured the Brazilian favelas, and the very detailed way the Hulk fight scenes where put together. Both the Hulk vs. Blonsky and the Hulk vs. The Abomination scenes were pretty technical and well choreographed.
What's missing might be some of the "believability" that captured audiences for Iron Man. In that movie, one could almost imagine oneself in a high tech suit flying the skies, less so a gamma ray poisoned green behemoth with anger issues. That is not a flaw in the movie itself, but just a reminder of the diversity of stories and characters that is the Marvel universe. Another issue may be that this Hulk movie is almost portrayed as the sequel to Iron Man, almost a sub-plot that is leading up to something bigger. We all know Marvel has big plans for it's universe, but they may have sacrificed some of The Hulk's individuality because of it. Despite this, The Incredible Hulk makes the audience hungry for more of Stan Lee's creations on the big screen.