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Movie: The Incredible Hulk

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Jon Favreau, quite rightfully, received a lot of attention both before and after the release of IRON MAN. From the announcement that he would be directing Marvel Studios first major movie release, he stepped forward and assured fans that he would be doing his best to see that the movie under his helm would be an accurate and faithful adaptation. Along the way Favreau won the trust and, in the end, the adulation of comic-book fans the world over. From the perspective of Joe “I’ve never heard of Iron Man” Public, Favreau took a b-list superhero and turned him into a household name. No mean feat. However, by comparison, Louis Leterrier had a much larger — and greener — task: Reboot THE INCREDIBLE HULK.

I’ve made no secret of my disappointment with Ang Lee’s 2003 take on THE HULK and, to be completely honest, felt that if this new version was to have any success at all then it would do so purely on the coattails of Favreau’s blockbuster efforts. There was no doubt in my mind that The Incredible Hulk would be the Ying to Favreau’s Yang.

I’m not at all suggesting that I felt Leterrier to be an incompetent director, anything but! I enjoyed the TRANSPORTER movies enough not to count them as a black mark against his name, and I think that UNLEASHED (aka Danny the Dog) is one of the most underrated action films of the last few years. Honestly though, I can’t even name a director who, had they been attached to this film, would have been able to satiate my fears.

However after actually seeing the film I have to confess to have been utterly put in my place. There is no doubt in my mind now, that Leterrier has taken Zak Penn’s screenplay (which was given some doctoring by Edward Norton) and produced an incredible Hulk movie which not only holds its own alongside Favreau’s efforts, but complements it and propels Marvel’s vision of their universe on film a huge leap further.

It’s hard to know exactly where 2003’s The Hulk stands in relation to this film, however it’s fair to say that they pay only a passing glance towards the origin events which took place in it and then move on quickly to this next chapter in the lives of the characters. In many ways this movie really does feel more like a descendant of the Bill Bixby television series of the late sixties than a sequel to the previous movie. There are more than a couple of nods to the series: Of course there’s the fact that Lou Ferrigno’s cameo actually made it into this film, a fun take on the “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!” warning, and I caught myself quietly applauding the inclusion of a cameo by Bixby (who died in 1993) himself.

There are also plenty of references to the external Marvel universe (pay close attention to some of the names which appear on the screen during the opening sequence). However all of these things are simply icing on the giant green cake that this film is.

I wont say that The Incredible Hulk is all action, because it’s not. What it does though is give you enough time to bond with the characters to the point that you actually give a rats ass about what happens to them — something that the Ang Lee film never managed — and because you care, the action takes on much more value. It goes without saying that this is a far more action-oriented film than Iron Man, but the two work extremely well off each other and, in my mind, they are very much ‘The Road to The Avengers’ Parts one and two. While you don’t necessarily need to have seen Iron Man to appreciate The Incredible Hulk, it’s a strong suggestion that you do – if only because both movies kick very much buttock.

Norton is great as Banner, in a lot of ways he’s Edward Norton with the ability to turn big and green, but there’s no denying that he’s in the moment and you’re on the ride with him from the very beginning. Tim Roth really is an unlikeable bastard, but he comes off like a puppy next to William Hurt (doing his best Sam Elliott) as General Ross. Even — and I can’t believe I’m saying this — Liv Tyler manages an endearing and emotional performance as Betty.. I KNOW, right!

Again, I really don’t want to spoil this film for anyone. So let me just say that I spent the last fifteen minutes of this movie with my fists clenched and feeling every bit of the action… No matter how far you are away from the screen, when the Hulk kicks someone in the nuts, you’re gonna feel it.

Oh, and there’s no need to stay until the end of the credits (unless you feel the need to appreciate all involved). If justice is to be served, this will be considered the first Hulk movie of Marvel’s golden age of film… So says the Leader [source]

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10 Comments

    Interesting – I had dismissed this movie as something I wouldn’t worry about seeing, such is the taint from the previous Hulk movie… which has got to be in my top 5 least-liked-movies-that-I’ve-watched next to The Perfect Storm and others.

    I did quite like Iron Man

    Hmmm, looks like I’ll have some movies to watch in the near future – The Happening and The Hulk!

  • Saw them both today Rom (Happening and Hulk) enjoyed them both in immensely differing ways.

    I’ll have a review of The Happening posted in the next couple of days! But for now just be assured that it’s Shyamalantastic!

  • Sounds good man. I kinda expect it to be in many ways distant to Iron-Man in that the two main characters are so very different. Stark made me laugh a lot. I doubt Banner will. So I expect this to be a bit more serious overall. Look forward to it.

    And the Ang Lee movie was good. The final act was all over the place, but I really liked it. I think its because I like Eric Bana, and I actually thought he and Connelly did well. I did care for him. I will care for Norton no doubt cause of how good of an actor he is, but I don’t expect it to *too* emotional.

    Be interesting to see!

  • I can’t fault the performances in the Ang Lee version Morgs. And, you know, they just about could have reused that whole cast. I really don’t think that this new cast is in any way better than the previous one. I do however, think that they had much better material to work with and that’s made all the difference.

  • Based on your review, i’m actually looking forward to seeing that now. But Iron Man first.
    Somewhat OT, but on the subject of superheros…after a recent superhero DVD fest spanning several weeks (and ending with a shudder on Fantastic 4 – Rise of the Silver Surfer), G and i were arguing about whether Unbreakable falls into the superhero genre. I say not at all. G says it fits squarely in the genre. What say you? If you side with me, i’ll give you a chocolate bickie.

  • Keep your cookie, I’m siding with the G-man. Only because he’s right though.

    The only reason that people see Unbreakable as something other than a comicbook / superhero movie is because it was marketed as a spooky suspense thriller, which was Disney’s decision. It was made against Shyamalan’s wishes and intended by Disney to ‘trick’ people into thinking that they were getting another Sixth Sense type film.

    Ultimately that’s one of the biggest factors in why Unbreakable failed to get the attention that it deserved – most people felt that they’d been ‘had’ and despised the film and Shyamalan for it.

    Which is a shame, because in my opinion not only does Unbreakable fit squarely into the comicbook / superhero genre, but it is probably the best example of it… The only thing it has against it is that it wasn’t a comic book in the first place.

  • I’ll weigh in here on the side of MNS and Unbreakable. I think it rates as one of the best movies I’ve seen.
    Sadly, I think a lack of special effects and an almost ‘normal’ character ability line up made it look less the comic book re-make and more suspense thriller.
    The viewer really does have to take this movie on its’ merits – and there are a lot of them – than on the bean-counter spin for straight marketing purposes which most super-hero/comic book re-makes rely heavily on.
    Oh, and I have finally seen Iron-man and the character in the movie is a lot funnier than I remember the comic version being…

  • G is currently dancing around me, jabbing me in the arm with glee. I will eat all the chocolate bickies now, just to annoy him.
    I agree, Unbreakable was awesome film making. Very much looking forward to The Happening…and your review of it.

  • […] produced to summarise the latest content on elroyonline.net. We’re talking about reviews of The Hulk, Iron Man, anime like Ghost In A Shell, foreign entries you never heard of like Chrysalis, all […]

  • I gave this a whirl and found it an enjoyable romp. No Iron Man, but it held my interest and had some awesome scenes.

    CGI wasn’t too bad eitehr.

    Thanks Elroy, you’ve done it again!