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Non-Review Review: The Incredible Hulk

While waiting for the 24 finale last night, my brother and I checked out what we had on DVD. We caught The Incredible Hulk, one of the blockbusters that seems to have unfairly become lost in the mix last year. It didn’t fail as spectacularly as Speed Racer, nor did it soar as high as Iron Man or The Dark Knight. Not expecting much, we found ourselves quite enjoying it.

It's not easy being green...

It's not easy being green...

Low expectations might be the key. It’s a small little movie that does exactly what it says on the tin. It spares itself from the vices of it’s direct predecessor – Ang Lee’s limp Hulk – by refusing to dwell on big metaphysical quandries, and trusting the actors to carry their characters rather than the script. Both are good calls. The Hulk is ridiculous. He’s meant to be ridiculous. He defies reality. He’s giant, he’s green and he certainly ain’t jolly. He ain’t designed to do subtle. He’s designed to hit things – really hard.

The plot is slight. Perhaps too slight. The extra’s are packed with a variety of scenes that were cut from Edward Norton’s draft. They add context to character decisions and give us more of elements that were undeveloped in the film. Norton was apparently less than pleased at the hacksaw the studio used in trimming the fat – and he was right. Had they been left in, we would have a great film. As it stands, we have simply a very good film.

So, there’s not much there. But what is there is quality. The cast are excellent. Norton is as inspired a choice as Downey Jnr. was for Iron Man. He’s slight, but we believe that he carries some mighty demons inside him. Indeed, he carries the first thirty minutes of the film on his back. Every other member of the cast performs well – in particular William Hurt and Tim Roth. Roth has been criminally underused in the past decade, and is a hugely talented actor. That he can somehow build a credible villain from the foundations he’s given is incredible. The fact that he is vying for the title of film antagonist from William Hurt even before his transformation is incredible.

Finally, the action scenes are well staged and as interesting as possible. An early scene has Norton fleeing a commando unit through a beautifully shot Brazil while trying to keep himself from getting too excited (and thus transforming into that thing in one of the world’s most densely populated areas). The finale is perhaps the best fightscene I’ve seen between two completely computer-generated adversaries. Beyond that, the film is endearing in its sense of humour. Banner has to buy pants with ‘give’ (which explains the oft-pondered question of why his pants never rip) and mangles his catchphrase in Spanish. It’s refreshing to see a summer blockbuster that doesn’t treat everything as deathly serious.

So, is it a masterpiece? Not quite. It’s an enjoyable old-fashioned action movie with great performances, a sense of humour and a great cast. If you aren’t immediately turned off by the patently ridiculous image of the giant green monster, then this movie is at the very least worth a shot.

3 Responses

  1. […] has the raw charisma of Robert Downey Jnr. in Iron Man. With that proviso, I was still impress by The Incredible Hulk – a by-the-numbers superhero action flick if ever there was one. But still, Thor as a concept […]

  2. […] as the visibly product placement of Stark Industries weapons throughout the film) confirmed that The Incredible Hulk was part of this new continuity as well. There was also an aborted (well, simply deleted) Captain […]

  3. […] The book is an obvious attempt to cash in on Marvel’s two big summer blockbusters last year: The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man. Still, as cash-ins go, it’s reasonably diverting. I quite like him when […]

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