Movie of the Day – The Incredible Hulk (2008)
May 2, 2012 3 Comments
With The Avengers slowly coming closer to release, one day actually, I decided to go back through some of the Marvel films of past. While Iron Man 2, Captain America and Thor were alright films in their own right, I think they suffered the tragic fate of being the vehicle to introduce the concept and underlying story of The Avengers. I mean all three of those films felt rushed and the main story of the characters was lost in the madness of cramming everything Avengers related into the films so that they were all tied to one another. While The Incredible Hulk is also part of that Avengers timeline, I actually enjoyed the reboot and continuation of story that was left off from the previous outing of the Hulk. For what it’s worth, The Incredible Hulk is one of the better comic book movies, one that cuts right to the chase of the story, even without the necessary setup of an origin story.
For years, Bruce (Edward Norton) has been living in the shadows, pursued by the military and haunted by the rage within. But traveling the world in secrecy isn’t easy, and as hard as he tries Bruce can’t get Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) off his mind. The daughter of Bruce’s nemesis Gen. Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt), Betty represents everything that is beautiful in the world to a man who lives his life on the run. Eventually, Bruce returns to civilization and faces the wrath of The Abomination. While the Hulk may be a formidable force of nature, The Abomination is decidedly more powerful, and determined to destroy Bruce Banner. Created when KGB agent Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) exposed himself to a higher dose of the same radiation that transformed Bruce into The Hulk, The Abomination is unable to change back into human form and holds Bruce accountable for his frightful condition. With time fast running out for both Bruce and The Hulk, New York City is about to become the ultimate urban battle zone as two of the most powerful creatures ever to walk the earth clash in a massive, no-holds-barred fight to the finish. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
The best thing about the film is that while it is a reboot, the film doesn’t go through the typical Hollywood motions of retelling us the whole story that was told in the 2005 version of the film. I mildly enjoyed the Ang Lee version of the film, but holy hell was that filled with nothing but filler. Don’t get me wrong though, Eric Bana is the shit and he did a bang up job as Bruce Banner. Instead of having us sit through a retelling of the origin, the film decides to use the opening sequence to re-establish the story line and pick up exactly where the pervious one stopped. We jump right into the story and personally, Edward Norton is far better at the role of Bruce Banner. The Incredible Hulk does a better job at movie the story forward, where the previous filmed bogged down the fine acting with too much side story and exposition. I get that the Hulk needs a bit more human connection, but you can do that at a brisk, building smashing pace.
I will say, this recent incarnation of the film does bring the entertainment. Fast paced action and impressive set pieces punctuate the furious and destructive nature of the Hulk. Pair the intensity of Norton’s performance and better looking CGI motion capture with that of Tim Roth’s transformation into Abomination creates some amazing confrontations. The level of fights and action scenes are increased gradually over the course of the film to the final showdown between the two behemoths is nothing short of impressive.
What works for this film is that it is a story about The Hulk and not a story about The Avengers that happens to center aroud The Hulk. Great acting from Edward Norton makes a much more sympathetic character out of the calm Bruce Banner and even makes you feel a bit amiable towards that mean green machine. That is a feat onto itself as it might be a bit hard to relate to something that runs on pure rage and emotions. But there in lies the character of The Hulk, a rage of emotions that is torn between balancing the personas of Bruce Banner and The Hulk. We got a lot more story and development, but never skimping on the action and that sweet relief of seeing The Hulk hulk out and break shit. I will alos throw out the performance of Tim Roth who’s character is meant to show what the Hulk could become if he gives into the power that he harnesses. It’s that tug of war between all out rage and control that is at the heart of The Hulk series and the film manages to do more good for the character and story. Also there is the little teaser at the end of the film that ties it into the Avengers film, but it wasn’t as intrusive like the films that came after The Incredible Hulk.
*images via RottenTomatoes