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The Hulk: Mark Two The Hulk: Mark Two
by Asa Butcher
2008-06-15 10:19:36
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Film
The Incredible Hulk
Directed by Louis Leterrier
2008, Universal

Wow! How else can I begin a review of the latest Incredible Hulk film that left me breathless and forgetting to actually blink during many of its superb action sequences? Following Ang Lee's highly-disappointing 2003 Hulk, which gave us so much back story that we had to wait almost 40-minutes for Bruce Banner to finally morph into the gamma irradiated superhero, I crossed my fingers that this 2008 re-launch wouldn't make the same mistakes. My prayers were answered.

During the opening credits we get to see Banner, this time played by Edward Norton, undergoing the fateful experiment and the rest of the back story in a brilliant montage of newspaper clippings, fuzzy film footage and special effects that establishes the pace of the film; one that doesn't let up for a second - even the potential love scene is interrupted by a racing pulse.

The film opens with an aerial shot over Rio de Janeiro's sprawling shanty town and we are told that there have been 158 days without incident… a number that we are all waiting to be reset to zero very soon. Banner has been on the run ever since the end of the last film and has been attempting to control the green beast within, and he has been doing well. However, of course, the US Army discovers his location and sends in an army team, headed by British actor Tim Roth, to capture him alive. Days without incident is quickly back down to zero.

From start to end this Hulk movie is - dare I use the cliché - a rollercoaster ride, with barely a moment to catch your breath before we are once again perched on the edge of our seat - there's another - unable to tear our eyes away from the screen - a third. Ang Lee's Hulk was far more poetic, it was gentle in ways, and no civilian or soldier is killed when Mr Hulk is on the rampage - remember when he throws the tanks over a mile and the crew climb out rubbing their heads! This time there are causalities… lots of them.

Director Louis Leterrier is relatively unknown to most people, with only three prior films to his credit (Transporter, Danny the Dog & Transporter 2), and screenwriter Zak Penn made is 1994 screenplay debut with Last Action Hero, which was actually nominated for the Worst Screenplay Razzie Award, but together they have produced a worthy addition to the Marvel Comics' growing franchise, plus have given comic fans a glimpse into the future possibility of The Avengers super team.

In the 2003 Hulk, Eric Bana starred as the eponymous hero, but my problem was that he is an actor that has always irritated me and he did no less in that film. However, Edward Norton takes over the role this time and he is superb; he convinced in seconds that he really is the embodiment of Bruce Banner. Liv Tyler, as Betty Ross, is as beautiful as ever, while Tim Roth got the patriotic blood in my veins pumping with his fantastic portrayal of Emil Blonsky, a British soldier called in to help with the mission.

The scenes in Brazil as the army are chasing him through the streets are reminiscent of the recent Jason Bourne series and are just as exciting, proving that we don't need the Hulk to have great action sequences. One of the best action sequences in the movie is the battle on the university campus, although it was very nearly beaten by the over-the-top fight between The Hulk and Tim Roth's The Abomination on the streets of New York City - pure comic book!

Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk is an admirable addition to the long-running Hulk franchise and one that I can't wait to watch again. Hopefully the next time I watch the film my brain will remember to blink every now and then because my eyes were quite dry and times! Incidentally, it wasn't until the closing credits that I saw that Lou Ferrigno, the original actor to play the Hulk, not only did the voice of The Hulk in the film, but was also the university campus security guard that takes the pizza from Banner. Watch out for him!


    
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Clint2008-06-15 15:13:35
If you're using Jason Bourne and the Hulk in the same sentence then its got to be a must see.


Emanuel Paparella2008-06-15 16:38:17
I have not seen the movie yet but the above review motivates me to go and see it. I’ve read somewhere that what makes this sequel considerably better than the previous is that it manages to persuade the audience that Banner is fighting an addiction of some kind and is aware of it and is constantly keeping himself in check. That is the dramatic core of the film, not the standoff between Hulk and Abomination. In other words, Banner is not fighting exterior forces but his own nature; the symptoms may be external but the conflict is an internal one of the Self. That is the incomparable stuff of myth and Greek tragedy and would make the film worth seeing just for that.


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