Newest Review: ... Banner lives a simple life while trying to cure himself of his mysterious affliction, but his pursuers are not far behind. What follows... more
Marvel and the Hulk take another step towards the big project
The Incredible Hulk (DVD)
Member Name: pmcds
The Incredible Hulk (DVD)
Advantages: Great all round job, brave improvement on 5 years ago
Disadvantages: Liv Tyler not convincing
Something went wrong! The film was stuttery, the plot weak and the special effects a huge disappointment. The plot suffered from hype and over-eagerness, and nothing was believeable. Ficve years on, another Hulk film hits our screens, but this time with a completely fresh start. Director Louis Leterrier takes the helm and directs Ed Norton as Banner, with the rest of the cast having switched as well. The special effects guys sort their act out and go back to the drawing board, and Stan Lee crosses his fingers and hopes that this time he'll hit the nail on the head, because this time it's part of a larger Marvel picture, which I'll explain further on.
What we get couldn't be further from HUlk in 2003. The film, entitled The Incredible Hulk, is a very mature presentation of one of the trickiest comic book (anti)heroes ever. Most of Marvels stars have sworn enemies and fight for the greater good. The struggle with the Hulk is that his enemy is the US Army, in particular General Ross (William Hurt), and that the love of his life as Bruce Banner is Ross' daughter Betty (Liv Tyler). This was the major problem is the first film of 2003. Here, they have handled this excellently by giving us all what we want and creating another Hulk-like monster and pitting our green monster against it, whilst staying true to Marvel and keeping the Hulk as an enemy of the Army.
The start of the film treats us to some wonderful scenery in explaining Banner fleeing the government and Army and holing up in South America. We see his efforts to control the beast within by testing his blood samples against possible cures, each one a failure. An incident at the bottling plant where he works causes his hideout to be rumbled, and Ross sends in a special unit headed by British hardheaded super-specialist soldier Major Blonsky, here played by a scary Tim Roth. Thus ensues a cat and mouse game for an hour and a half, culminating in a magnificent display of skill from the CGI guys, creating the Hulk and an equally beastly adversary.
In 2003's Hulk, the CGI Hulk was disastrous. It was unbelievable and looked as fake as you can get. Naturally, it is fake and we do rely on special effects, and perhaps 5 years has given that much more scope for improvement, but the job done on creating the Hulk in The Incredible Hulk is marvellous. The character has distinctly human movement and looks incredibly real, his face displaying emotions and limbs and body moving in true form to an oversized human being as opposed to a slapdash creation of CGI.
The acting is also marvellous. William Hurt's General Ross has a bit more to bite off in this film than Sam Elliot did in Hulk, and Hurt really goes for it in true 'stand up for your country and beliefs' kind of way. He verges on the obsessive in his tracking and chasing of the Hulk, hoping to use his uniquely altered DNA for military purposes. He is dissuaded by his entranged daughter, Betty, once more, and here lies perhaps the only weakness in the leads. Liv Tyler for some reason isn't as convincing as the rest of the lead cast in her role as Betty. She doesn't quite get angry enough in the scenes with the General, and this shows, as everyone else's performance seems to fit in perfectly with the general mood and pace of the film. Tim Blake Nelson's appearance as Dr Samuel Sterns needs a little explaining. In the comics, Stern is a scientist who becomes involved with the DNA of Banner, and who uses it to become Hulk's long term adversary. In the film, his interest in Banner is parallel to that in the comics, and perhaps this is something that will be developed in future films, if they get that far.
Overall, I would say that the film does very well in picking up the pieces from 5 years ago and showing us that they can make a good Hulk film. Norton is magnificent as the scientist wrestling with his emotions and trying to control the Hulk and not let him come out. After the first few scenes, you get beyond the fact that he doesn't really look the part to start off with, if you are making a comparison to the comics, and he starts to fix himself in your minds as Banner and the Hulk as one. Norton has the ability to do this to an audience in his films. Roles in films such as Fight Club and American History X show us that moods and visual acting can change the way we perceive a performance, and he gets his case in here very well. Part of his ability to do this lies in his careful choosing of roles. He doesn't saturate himself with film after film, he makes sure he gets one role and sticks with it, giving himself time and less pressure to get the job done well.
The film serves its purpose very well. Part of this is naturally to give us a damn good action film. This box is ticked. Part of the bigger picture is becoming more and more clear every day. Marvel are launching a bit of a run of films, and clminating with The Avengers in 2011. At the end of Iron Man, released a few months earlier, we saw Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. approach Tony Stark to talk to him about a 'team'. Here, at the end of The Incredible Hulk, we see Stark involved, although I won't spoil any details for you.
The next few projects will involve Captain America, Ant-Man and Thor before Avengers hits our screens, and to this extent it will be intersting to see how the Hulk fits in. His role in the Avengers in comic format had the inklings of being a rogue, with the emotions of the big beast being uncontrollable, and the involvement of General Ross and possible inclusion of Dr Sterns at some point leaves this open to experiment. I will certainly be keeping my eyes open for the next Marvel film, to hopefully make things clearer. In the meantime, I am glad to have watched The Incredible Hulk, and I am glad that this time, the job has been done properly, and everyone involved should take a quick bow, and then jump to the next Marvel film. The future looks Marvel-lous!
Summary: Great film all round