Saturday, June 14, 2008

REVIEW: The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk

Year: 2008
Director: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Tim Blake Nelson
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

Hulk fans around the world were left disappointed after the 2003 Ang Lee film "Hulk" bombed pretty badly at the box office. It looked as if we were never going to get a true Hulk film that people actually liked. That changed when Marvel and Universal started talking again. After the announcement that Edward Norton was replacing Eric Bana as Bruce Banner, I didn't know what to expect. I'm not a fan of recasts and this new Hulk movie didn't look like it was bringing back anybody from the first movie. Ang Lee was being replaced by Louis Leterrier who also directed Transporter 2 and Unleashed. Months later, we got our first look at the teaser for The Incredible Hulk. People complained about the movies visual effects criticizing it for looking uglier than the first film. I didn't say anything because I wanted to see the finished product before passing judgement. I knew this movie would be much better than the first Hulk attempt.

Plot Outline:
Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) is in Brazil learning Portuguese while working in a bottling plant. He is on the run from General Ross (William Hurt) while trying to figure out a way to rid himself of the startling metamorphosis created by gamma radiation. He does this through the study of Eastern Meditations as well as scientific experiments aided by a mysterious "Mr. Blue" via the Internet. A clue leads Ross into finding Banner in Brazil. They dispatch an elite team with soldier Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth). Moving back towards the U.S., he reunites with Betty Ross (Liv Tyler). Blonsky takes a top secret serum that enhances his ability, although nowhere as close to what Hulk can have. He wants that power and chases Banner with more selfish motives.

Director Louis Leterrier wanted to stay away from Ang Lee's story version and instead focus more on the TV show series "The Incredible Hulk". You can really tell the guys who wrote the screenplay were fans of the comics because there are so many references to the TV show and Hulk in general. The origin of the Hulk is mostly explained in the opening credits. Their are no flashbacks from the previous film and everthing looks new. This Hulk also looks like the Hulk in the comics. The Abomination is in the movie and he makes such a good opponent against the Hulk that its really fun watching the two of them going at it. The movie also has alot of cameos that are a joy to see. We get a cameo by Lou Ferrigno who played the original Hulk in the TV series, but also voices the Hulk in this film and one by the popular Stan Lee who created the superhero, but that's not all. By now, most of you have heard of Robert Downey Jr. having a cameo in this film as Tony Stark aka Iron Man. His appearance is at the end and I don't want to spoil it for you, but Its very thrilling to see him. Looks like The Avengers is definitely coming, HELL YEAH!

Edward Norton plays as Bruce Banner/Hulk. He replaces Eric Bana and while I enjoyed Bana as Banner, I felt Norton did the better job. His comedic and smart performance makes him a good choice to be playing this character. Liv Tyler replaces Jennifer Connelly as Betty Ross. I felt Connelly's portrayal of Betty Ross was much more meaningful. Tyler just doesn't come close to Connelly's Ross when you compare the two. Besides, Connelly looked way more sexy than Tyler. Tim Roth plays as Emil Blonsky who later goes onto turn into the Abomination. He gives a great performance that I really liked. He had me convinced he was this ruthless agent out to hunt Hulk and get his power. We also have William Hurt playing as General "Thunderbolt" Ross. He also replaces Sam Elliott and I thought Elliott did a great job as Ross, but I think Hurt does an even better job. Hes look and personality makes him a good choice to be playing this part.

The visual effects in this movie are probably going to get the most criticism from. People kept saying the previous Hulk looked more real than this one. I didn't say anything because the movie wasn't finished yet and I didn't want to criticize something that wasn't complete. Than when I finally saw the movie in finished form at the theater, I was really impressed. The animations look nicely done and the fight scenes are wonderfully choreographed. The movie doesn't consist of any grain which comes to as no surprise since it a new release. Colors are very bold and somewhat muted. Its not vibrant like I would have hoped for, but it looks dazzling. Blacks are inky and dark like they should be. Detail is sky high with alot of clarity in peoples faces. Close up shots on Hulk or anybody else in the movie are highly detailed with everything looking great. This movie destroys the other Hulk in the visual department.

Danny Elfman scored the previous Hulk movie, but this time composer Craig Armstrong is scoring this movie. Armstrong had previously scored other films such as Ray and World Trade Center. He does a good job here with his score and I liked it better than the one Elfman made. The music in this movie kind of mimics the ones in the TV series. This is good news for those who loved the TV show theme song because its in this movie too. With that all said, the movie doesn't feature a score that I really thought made this film stand out. Bass on the other hand, is just phenomenal. I raved about how the first Hulk movie had strong bass usage, but The Incredible Hulk takes it to another level. The heavy explosions and jaw dropping fight scenes just sound so perfect. This is now my favorite to demo my surround sound.

The Incredible Hulk is a great movie that any superhero fan will enjoy. I found the story to be really entertaining and full of action. Its much more related to the TV series and the comics compared to Ang Lee's version. The cast is great with alot of them giving good performances. The visual effects are much more improved from the previous film. For those criticizing this movie for its effects, shut up. Lets see you render a 9 feet monster perfectly. The soundtrack is better, but is still lacking a good score that will set this movie aside from other films. The bass will rock you system and is much much more aggressive this time. Louis Leterrier did a great job directing this movie and I hope he sticks around for a sequel. This is the Hulk movie you fans have been craving to see. Marvel is 2 for 2 now. So how does this compare to Iron Man? well there both great. Id say Iron Man wins only by a feather because of the cleaner storyline, but Hulk kills it in the action scenes. Both are great films and Id definitely see both. HULK SMASH!

Grade: B-

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