Ken's Review: The Incredible Hulk - The One and Only Hulk Movie!
by Ken Evans
June 14, 2008
It's quite funny how this summer is turning out. I was really looking forward to The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian but ended up not liking it too much. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was good but not great. Iron Man was high on my most anticipated list but I never expected it to blow me away as much as it did, not to mention Kung Fu Panda, which I have already seen twice and loved even more during the second viewing. Then last Monday I had the pleasure of watching The Incredible Hulk. Like in the text I sent my friends after watching it, all I can say is, Hulk Smash Good!
Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) is on the run from the military who wants to study the monster dwelling inside him. For the last few years, Banner has been in hiding trying to find an antidote for the experiment that left him in his current condition. After many failed attempts and a close call, Banner decides to come out of hiding after learning from Mr. Blue (Tim Blake Nelson) that he might have a cure. Resurfacing ends up costing him more than he bargained for as he becomes the target of a power hungry soldier, Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) and ends up putting the woman he loves, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), in great danger. Unfortunately for Banner, Blonsky ends up becoming a bigger problem then anyone realized.
Someone recently asked me if I had ever seen a movie that came out in 2003 called Hulk. I quickly said that I hadn't and didn't think such a movie ever existed. After seeing The Incredible Hulk, I suggest that be everyone's response. This is a reboot of the entire franchise and definitely not a sequel, as it should be. It starts again with the origin of the Hulk, which is played during the opening credits. I thought that was a genius idea and it ended up leaving so much more time for the action and story.
The cast was good but not great. As much as I love Edward Norton, I have to admit that he is not perfect. He had great performances in American History X, Fight Club and Rounders, but extremely disappointing performances in The Italian Job and Down in the Valley. In Incredible Hulk he was solid. I wasn't blown away, but he fit the job and did it well. Liv Tyler is the same Liv Tyler we always see (I'm not a very big fan of her), but she fit the role well enough. William Hurt, who played General Ross, seemed a bit stiff. Tim Roth was definitely the best of the cast and pulled off a great performance.
So if the cast was average what made this such a great movie? The first element was a great story. This isn't Iron Man, which was near perfection when it came to story, but The Incredible Hulk did just about all the right things. It kept it simple and focused on the main character. It had a comic book feel the whole way through. It wasn't overly complicated with too many characters or too many plot points. Everything pointed back to the Hulk and stayed true to his character.
I know there were a lot of people worried about what the CGI would finally end up looking like. I am happy to report that it looked amazing! I especially was watching for the effects. Hulk looked unbelievable with phenomenal muscle detail under his skin. There are a few scenes where you can see water trickling down his chest or back. The combination of the muscling, water, lighting, and reflections was truly breathtaking. I can't wait to see it again to take a closer look at a few of those scenes.
Then there are the action scenes. When it comes to the fight sequences between the military and Hulk or Abomination and Hulk, you just can't beat these scenes. As much as I enjoyed the fights in Iron Man, I was equally blown away, if not more, by the fights in Incredible Hulk. They were so beautifully done that your eyes are popping out, while at the same time so intense that you forget to breathe. I especially enjoyed the clash between Hulk and the military because it was done in a huge open field during the middle of the day. They show it using distance shots so that you can see all the action. This was a rare thing to see because they usually do those kinds of fights indoors or at night with close-up shots.
Marvel Studios has come out of the gate at blazing fast speeds. With Iron Man and now The Incredible Hulk under their belt, they better deliver with Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers. They have a lot to live up to, but I think they can do it! I haven't gotten to see The Happening yet, but if I had to make a suggestion then I would highly recommend The Incredible Hulk as a must see. You should also check out The Promotion if it's playing near you. I saw it at SXSW and just got back from a second viewing. It's definitely one of my top films of the year.