The Incredible Hulk is not a sequel to the 2003 Ang Lee disaster, Hulk, so much as a different telling of a new chapter in the Hulk mythology.
After watching The Incredible Hulk, it’s hard to judge the movie for a couple of reasons. First, you must completely separate it from the 2003 Ang Lee disaster, Hulk, because it is not a sequel to that film so much as a different telling of a new chapter in the Hulk mythology. Second, because the first condition is impossible, it’s hard to say if The Incredible Hulk is a good movie or just so much less crappy than Hulk that, by comparison, it must be good.
Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) has been hiding in South America for the last five years, hiding from the U.S. Army, led by General Ross (William Hurt), after nearly killing him and his daughter, Betty (Liv Tyler) in the experiment that unleashed the Hulk. Despite his best efforts, Banner is finally tracked down by Ross.
Now Banner must make contact with a fellow scientist in New York City in hopes of destroying the Hulk inside him for good, making him useless to Ross who only wants to turn him into a weapon. Ross creates another weapon of his own in the meantime, using a soldier, Blonsky (Tim Roth), as the guinea pig that quickly outgrows his cage.
There are some great parts in the movie. Norton is engaging, as always, and brings a lot of humanity to the role. Also, the battle scenes are extravagant and just enough over the top to still be entertaining.
Roth, however, is too far over the top to be entertaining at all. Usually he knows how to gauge a character perfectly, but here is too much growl and not enough bite. Tyler adds nothing to the movie and is actually rather frustrating to watch. She is a scientist, just like Banner, yet she doesn’t give any help whatsoever to his situation. She is portrayed as only as the supportive girlfriend and nothing more.
There has been a much publicized fight between Norton and the production company after they refused to release the much more meditative and reflective version that director Louis Letterier had in mind. I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like to watch a movie about the Hulk with less action and more quiet, inwardly focused moments. There are moments like these spread throughout the movie, but not enough to add up to any true theme or motif.
But for fans of the Hulk series, the movie is a success. It doesn’t try to capture the comic book feel so much as the essence of the Hulk’s struggles and conflicts. Also, make sure to stay until the end of the movie as there is an amazing cameo which ends all cameos that have ever appeared in any movie. Awesome is the only way to describe it, and it raises a few questions about where the franchise is going and who is going to be involved. | Matthew F. Newlin