The Incredible Hulk

posted June 13, 2008 11:24:31 AM CDT | 23 comments

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Itís mean. Itís green. Itís a fighting machine. Yeah, itís increasingly apparent that whenever folks see Marvel Comics coming to the box office, theyíd best stay clear of its way. With this probable summer winner being released on the heels of late springís satisfying Iron Man, the house that comic book legend Stan Lee built is two-for-two in í08. So, in typical Hollywood fashion, Marvelís unleashing a cast of characters on the public over the next few years: Wolverine in í09; Thor and more Iron Man in í10; Captain America and The Avengers in í11. And if the suits at Marvel know whatís best, theyíll have the star of The Incredible Hulk, Ed Norton, reunite with its director, Louis Leterrier (The Transporter 2), somewhere in between, too.

Everything that the í03 attempt at revamping the Hulk with Eric Bana wasnít, this enjoyable romp is. The earlier Ang Lee-directed installment went auteur and was actually a tad heavy-handed with the scientific references. Moviegoers felt like they were back in 10th grade chemistry class, not a cinema. This one doesnít even bother showing scientist Bruce Banner (Norton) making his first boo-boo in the laboratory. It simply explains it all in a quick montage: Too much radiation. Too little his love, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), could do to keep him from harmís way. Too big of a problem for Gen. Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt) to restrain to a lab.

Hulk officially opens with Banner as far from Ross and the U.S. military as possible- the impoverished hills of Brazil. Heís laying low in South America as a day laborer at a bottling plant. One day Bruce cuts himself and a dab of his blood spills into a bottle. An old guy back in the States (Stan Lee, in his typical, quick-cameo fashion) gets the juice, drinks it and dies from a gamma reaction. The General finds out the source of the contamination, rounds up his troops (including a fearless Tim Roth) and heads down there. The manhunt is on. Unfortunately for them, Bruce isnít the biggest fan of manhunts.

You, on the other hand, are gonna love it when Bannerís angry. While weíre certain technologyís improved since Ang Leeís version dropped, itís hard to fathom how different the two green giants appear on screen. This one runs smoother, crushes stuff better and simply looks cooler. It even does the Hulk Smash. (Old school heads will know what weíre talking about.) And you canít say enough about Norton, an actorís actor whoís carrying on the recent trend of comic leads (The Dark Knightís Christian Bale, Iron Manís Robert Downey Jr.) who play the hero yet do so with a pinch of vulnerability.

But who are we kiddiní? Most folk giving up their $10 to see this flick are doing it because of the carnage they plan on witnessing. You wonít be disappointed. Long after the credits have rolled, action fiends will still be talking about the frantic fighting sequence between the Hulk and Abomination (Roth, after his own spine-tingling transformation) in Manhattan. Itís bold. Itís over the top. Itís Marvel Comics doing what itís supposed to be doing on the big screen.

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