Now is the season for movie studios to roll out their blockbuster comic book movies, and the field is a little crowded this summer, with three that I can think of offhand (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and The Dark Knight). If you broaden the category to include superhero movies generally, than I guess you can add Will Smith’s upcoming Hancock to the mix, bringing the total to four.
Marvel brought us Iron Man a short while ago, and now we have The Incredible Hulk, which sort of seems like a sequel to 2003’s Hulk, but not really. New director, new leading man, new love interest, and it doesn’t seem like the new story picks up where the last one left off, so I don’t know what’s up with that. The new one stars Ed Norton (Rounders), whom I LOVE. No movie he’s in can ever be that bad. I must admit that the caliber of actors portraying these comic book characters is quite good. Norton takes the reigns over from Eric Bana (the last Hulk) as Bruce Banner, the scientist whose experiment goes horribly wrong, transforming him into a mammoth green monster. The movie opens with a refresher that rolls during the opening credits, if you pay attention. We see Bruce trying his experiment on himself, and then turning into the Hulk. Unbeknownst to Bruce, the experimental drug was intended to be used as a military weapon. Now that he has turned into the Hulk and fled, the Army is after him so they can refine the drug and begin using it. When we meet Bruce he is on the lam, hiding out in Brazil, working in a bottling factory and managing his “condition” with breathing techniques to avoid getting angry and hulking out. William Hurt (Mr. Brooks) is the Army general on his trail, and his daughter Elizabeth (played by Liv Tyler of The Strangers) is the lovely doctor and girlfriend Bruce left behind.
Ed Norton brings a quiet, sympathetic thoughtfulness to Bruce Banner, and he seems like more of a tortured creature than a terrifying monster. This is underscored by the relationship between Bruce and Elizabeth. Their scenes are sweet and tender, both when it’s Bruce and Elizabeth and the Hulk and Elizabeth. The latter scenes reminded me of King Kong, watching this huge thing carry a woman in its arms. Despite relying heavily on obvious CGI effects, I still felt that the movie was very good and wasn’t hampered by the apparent inauthenticity of the Hulk. You know what’s funny though? When the Hulk busts out of his clothes, he manages to keep his pants on. LOL, how is that possible? I mean, I’m not saying I want to see what’s underneath, I’m just sayin’. It doesn’t make sense. Regarding the performances, Norton and Tyler had good chemistry together. Not much was required of William Hurt or Tim Roth (Gridlock’d) as the villains, but the presence of such accomplished actors can only enhance a movie. All in all, The Incredible Hulk is a worthy addition to the field of comic book flicks coming out this summer.