It’s been a while since I put my reviewing fingers to keyboard, so bear with me, whisper reassuring things in my ear and try not to be too disappointed if I reach a premature conclusion *ahem*. What’s that you say? “Hulk”? Okay then…
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
It’s almost impossible to start reviewing this film without first thinking about 2003’s “Hulk” directed by Ang Lee. Whilst personally I don’t have a problem with it, the fanboys were livid. Soundbites like “Hulk doesn’t smash enough” and “It’s too long and boring” were whinged in the way that only grown men who still live with their parents can whinge. So, earlier this year we were given “The Incredible Hulk”, a sort of remake cum sequel which bypasses Ang Lee’s version completely.
“You wouldn’t like me when I’m…hungry”
The basic plot is that after becoming the Hulk, Bruce Banner (Ed Norton) is forced to go on the run from the military. We pick up the story in Brazil where Banner has been incognito for months. However, an accident at the bottling factory where he works gives away his position to the army who will stop at nothing to take him in. To be honest, the plot isn’t exactly amazing, but at least it isn’t ridiculously complex and fraught with angst and repression like 2003’s offering. It does its job without being patronising. It’s pacier and funnier too- two welcome additions to the slow burning “Hulk”
Ed Norton is a great Banner. I don’t know why, but I never bought Eric Bana as the character in the 2003 version. I think it’s maybe because Norton has shown a dark side in films such as “American History X” and “Fight Club” that I believe he is this nice guy with a monster dwelling within. In fact all the cast are great. The stand-out performance for me though was Tim Roth’s Emil Blonsky. I honestly think Hollywood has overlooked Roth. He’s never turned in a duff perfomance to my knowledge and has always brought something interesting to the characters he plays. Plus it’s nice to see a British man not being portrayed as gay or crumpet eating. Refreshing.
There’s more action too. I always liked the Hulk versus the Army scene in “Hulk” but there just wasn’t enough of it. It honestly felt like it was there so that they could make a decent trailer to bring in the punters. “The Incredible Hulk” addresses this by giving us more of Hulk, well, smashing. There’s an impressive sequence at a college and the monster mash-up between Hulk and Abomination is fantastic. I just knew they nailed the Hulk when he smashes a police cruiser in two and uses the pieces and huge metal gauntlets. Brought a huge smile to my face, I can tell you. Having said that, I still don’t feel that the Hulk is being used to his full potential. My impression from the comics was that Hulk was a wild, untameable force of destruction. In this film he seems quite contained in comparison. More destruction for the sequel please.
Oh, one other thing- FUCKING IRON MAN IS IN IT! Yep, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) makes an appearance and once again teases us with the forthcoming “Avengers” film. Thank God for Marvel Studios. I never dreamed of a world in which a character from a Paramount owned franchise could appear in a Universal film. I could have wept with joy when I watched it in the cinema. Honestly. I’m that sad. Anyway, “The Incredible Hulk” gets a great: