It’s hard to believe that Marvel went ahead with a remake of The Hulk so soon after Ang Lee’s failed attempt. Of course, it’s all part of their Master Plan. This is phase two of Marvel’s plans for cinematic domination, and it’s a little scary to see the films begin to cross over just like the comics do.
That being said, The Incredible Hulk is great. Actually, better than great. The film wisely gets the origin story over and done with in the opening titles. Edward Norton is fantastic (no surprises there), and brings a fascinating vulnerability to Bruce Banner. He’s the perfect fit – a weedy, nervous looking guy who’ll do anything to stop from getting angry. Liv Tyler is on the top of her game as love interest Betty Ross, and their story is incredibly powerful. It’s really rare that a comic book romance works on the big screen, but this one is perfect. They imbue their scenes with such emotion that it’s hard to believe that a big green man is going to enter the frame at any moment, probably to say something inane like ‘Hulk smash!’
Of course, the big green man is the worst part of this movie. Once more we’re subjected to a huge, shiny CGI dud, but at least this time he’s a little scarier; a little veinier. They even address the issue of stretchy pants (sort of). The early action scenes are quite thrilling. Director Louis Leterrier knows how to make a good action movie (The Transporter, Unleashed (Danny the Dog)), but doesn’t always have the best taste in screenplays (Transporter 2). He certainly knows how to make the Hulk throw stuff around, though…
The rest of the cast are actually disappointing in comparison to our two leads. William Hurt is strangely… shit. I’ve never known him to be quite so disappointing. Tim Blake Nelson is a little too… comical for my tastes as scientist Samuel Sterns, but Tim Roth is incredibly effective as the weakly defined Emil Blonsky.
I actually enjoyed this film more than Iron Man, though it also has a disappointing climax. It mightn’t be as flat as Iron Man‘s CGI slugfest (though eerily similar), but it’s nowhere near as powerful as the earlier scenes.
That the Australian release of The Incredible Hulk coincided with that of Speed Racer and The Happening suggests that the powers that be don’t have as much faith in their product as they did with Iron Man. It is a superior film, however, mainly thanks to an excellent first half and powerful performances from its leads.Rating: