The Incredible Hulk
So, The Incredible Hulk. The second in the Hulk series which is doing its best to ignore the first film from Ang Lee. Some say that the first Hulk film is terrible and smashes through the Hulk mythology. I disagree, I think it was a good example of a comic book adaptation damaged only by silly creatures to fight, an over complicated and rather ridiculous father figure character, and a few other issues.
However that's passed and now Louis Leterrier, Edward Norton, Zak Penn, William Hurt, Tim Roth and Liv Tyler. This is their Hulk, and it's fast paced, more CGI, one baddie who builds throughout, a few laughs, a few cameos, and the Bruce Banner we remember from the television series.
Now that's the first thing that needs to be mentioned, The Incredible Hulk television series which saw the long running Bill Bixby play Bruce Banner, the scientist on the run looking for a cure for his affliction, an affliction that when it gets out of hand and he gets angry, causes him to turn into the creature that is called the Hulk, played by Lou Ferrigno.
In my mind the television series has taken over from the comic series as the definitive Hulk, and I think that is something that the people behind this film have realised too, that there's not just a comic book audience with their Hulk, and not just a television series audience with theirs, but that there are two Hulks, and they need to be reconciled in order to create the definitive on screen version.
You know what? I think that they've done it. Again I'll make the point that I am really a television series fan more than the comic, but I think they've captured the Bruce Banner situation and relationship with his inner and outer demons superbly well. This feels like it's a modern day film version of that relationship.
What of the rest of the film, and how does it stand on its own? Well just before that let me say once again a big thankyou to the staff at Vue Cinema at Edinburgh's Ocean Terminal for the great help that they've given me in seeing these films, the help they're showing Filmstalker and therefore you in getting these reviews out. So onto the film.
Well it has to be said that it was entertaining, and it did feel better than the first one. The CGI is a bit more progressed than the previous version, and the progression in the CGI itself is a metaphor for the film and the character progression.
It's dirtier, harder, tougher, more detailed, leaner and more sinewy version, all in all it looks and feels more realistic. You can see what I mean now, because that's not just true for the CGI Hulk but for the entire script itself. Everything is pulled back in and looked at on a much smaller level than we saw in the first Hulk, and it works so much better.
The Hulk feels like a much stronger creature with a more defined personality than before, and not just that but there's more of a connection between Banner and the Hulk. Before it felt like the two were very separate, but there's been a definite move to bring them together, and also to pull in the character of Elizabeth Ross into the threesome.
The major part that feels a lot better in this version is the adversary. Emil Blonsky, and later Adomination, is well crafted from the moment he arrives on screen. He's a pretty simple character and his motivations and relentlessness is shown early on and fits well with the character, a character who doesn't become overly diluted or too complex, and neither is he too flimsy or cardboard either.
The General feels a lot more powerful and menacing than he did in the first, and his relationship with his daughter feels stronger and more combative. All in all it's fair to say that the characters and relationships are much better and well created.
The film itself plays out well and the speedy, fast cut introduction that spans the entire "new but old" history of Banner sets us up for the film rather nicely. The pace never drops and the film cuts through slower moments without question in order to keep the story going.
For instance there's a moment between Banner and Ross when they are facing the same direction and begin to get a little romantic, they turn towards each other a little, a little more, and it's obvious that this scene was taking a little too long so they just cut a bit out and suddenly they're both facing each other.
You can see this happen a couple of times in the film, and while it's not much of a problem for the most part, in the final fight scene there are a few times when you feel you're sitting there wondering what just happened, and it's not just because some of the action is difficult to follow.
There are a few nice moments in the film, Tony Stark and Nick Fury mentioned at the start of the film, a cool cameo from Stan Lee, a great cameo from the original television series Hulk Lou Ferrigno, who also voices the creature and is looking in superb shape. There's even a few nice look ins for the original television series too, there's that tune and a short appearance by Bill Bixby, the original Bruce Banner actor.
Oh, and there is no appearance of Captain American in the film, not even at the end credits. I had thought that Mr Blue was going to eventually turn out to be the character, however it didn't. Mind you it'll be interesting to find out who Mr Blue turns out to be.
We are treated to a very cool final scene with Tony Stark as played by Robery Downey Jr., the General, and the hinting of a major Marvel series to come. It's done very well and appears before the credits, so you won't miss anything.
The performances are mainly good, William Hurt plays a good General Ross and does have a strong character arc, as does Tim Roth who gives us a driven and passionate soldier who couldn't really be said to be a bad guy.
The Elizabeth Ross character is a bit light and does seem to go through the film being a bit of a victim and being distressed a lot. That said I wonder what else Liv Tyler's character could have done? She does play a few pivotal points in the story and is instrumental in Hulk and Banners developments.
Edward Norton is good too, but not the best in the film and I do find that he plays roles very similar to each other. Sometimes it feels as though he's running a little monotone in voice and performance.
Yet this new incarnation of The Incredible Hulk is a good one and an entertaining one. I'm sure that fans of Hulk from either the series or the comics will be coming out in support of this version - mind you with the passing of time I'm sure that there will be fonder eyes on the Ang Lee version.
However the Louis Leterrier, Zak Penn and Edward Norton version of the Hulk is the best to date. Action packed and pretty much unrelenting, the film should appeal to all. It'll be interesting to see where that extra seventy minutes of footage will go back into the film and how a director's cut might look. With the word that this footage could mainly be character related, it could make for an even stronger film for Bruce Banner.
In the meantime The Incredible Hulk is good entertainment, strong action, good characters and joins the ranks of the superheroes well.