The Red Right Hand
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THE INCREDIBLE HULK
Get Ready To Unleash The Beast

Director
Louis Leterrier

Starring
Ed Norton
Liv Tyler
Tim Roth
William Hurt

With almost every comic book adaptation I start by explaining my own history with the comic and its characters; "I didn't care much for Hawkeye, Spider-Man was annoying, Jessica Drew was hotter than Emma Frost (and still is)" etc. With regards to the hulk, I was never an overly big fan of the comic; I simply found the stories a little too repetitive. The concept, however, of a ball of green rage appealed to me as a young, hot-blooded London Irish kid.

So, the first question to address, concerns Ang Lee's 2003 Hulk movie. I'll be stoned for saying this but I thought it was fairly enjoyable; a little slow and littered with techno-babble but still worth a watch. The problem I had was the hulk itself. It just did not look or feel anything like the comic book creation (grey or otherwise). He was too smooth, too shiny, too fluorescent green and too bloody tall. The Incredible Hulk has found itself a new director in the form of Louis Leterrier (director of The Transporter series), who has elected certain necessary changes. This film is neither a sequel nor a reboot, yet at the same time, it's both. To be honest, I had my doubts about this film, just as I did with Iron Man but as 2003's Hulk had so many flaws, it should have been obvious where they needed to improve.

The opening sequence sums up the Hulk's creation in the mime style of the Spiderman sequels. I'm still not entirely sure I was happy or comfortable with the opening but after a good ten minutes, you soon forget. Having spent 150-plus low profile days in Brazil, Dr. Bruce Banner [Norton] is still searching for a way to control his anger and rid himself of the green beastie. Whilst fixing a switch in an old bottling factory, a small droplet of his blood falls into an open bottle of juice which is shipped to the US (queue another glorious Stan Lee cameo). This freak accident tips off General Ross [Hurt], who assembles a crack team, headed by Emil Blonsky [Roth], to catch him. The film then follows your typical chase flick, as Banner tries to elude the military, whilst re-establishing contact with his old girly, Betty Ross [Tyler] and working on some sort of cure. Cue a warped psycho Blonsky and a big fight scene in New York and you have a new, revitalised Hulk series.

The first notable change is the surprising amount of humorous comments and moments - the thought "hulk denied angry sex" comes to mind. I have said, on many occasions, that the only way to make a comic book movie work is to make it a plausible drama. If you inject too much humour you get Batman & Robin but absolutely no humour leads to an excessively dark film like The Punisher. Little moments, well timed, restore the playful comic element that is so vital to a very unstable mix of variable integers. Not dissimilar to Iron Man, the action is somewhat sparse but works extremely well when unleashed.

As with all superhero movies, nobody really cares about the 2D extras playing family and friends; it's about the caped hero or the bad guy he's facing-off against. However, in this case, the supporting cast did exceptionally well. Tim Roth, who I wasn't overly sure about, was especially entertaining. It is something of a cool time to be a geek; big name, academy-award winning actors playing comic roles, it's truly astonishing. There are, as always, a few negative points to highlight. The hulk still feels like a repetitive character to me, the reboot/origin film works well but if he just goes from town-to-town being tracked by the military, it's going to get very boring, very quickly.

Which leads me to the question all nerds want to ask; what's next? According to the roster, it appears the following line-up has been confirmed: Iron Man 2 with a Thor cameo [2010]; Thor movie [2010]; possible Hulk 2 [2010]; The First Avenger: Captain America movie [2011]; The Avengers [2011] and a possible Nick Fury film [2011]. Mmm, delicious prospects.

Release Date:
13th June 2008

The Scene To Look Out For:
I could harp on about the action sequences but it's the Tony Stark [Robert Downey Jr.] cameo that completely sold me. I know stating my favourite moment is when Iron Man crops up kind of undermines everything else in the film but it was just the last straw (if you can imagine the last straw being a positive metaphor in which I'm going around snapping camels in half with straw). It's a nod toward things to come that I have wanted ever since the release of the first X-Men and Spiderman movies; crossovers. I want Peter Parker to walk down the street to the Baxter building, take pictures of Richard Reeds and then pass a court house where Matt Murdock is holding court. I want my Marvel universe! Thankfully, as Marvel is now funding and producing its own material, there are more than just brief fan-service nods toward the comic or the 1978 TV series, they're setting up an entire world. The Incredible Hulk alone saw mentionings of the super soldier serum that created Captain America, SHIELD tapping phones and emails, Nick Fury's name appearing on official documents, the rather cool sonic emitters used to cripple the hulk were designed by Stark industries; it warrants a complete geekgasm! But I digress...

Notable Characters:
The hulk, no not Banner; Norton did commendable work but I'm highlighting the hulk. A beautiful mix of CGI, animatronics and motion capture have finally brought the monster to life. Standing at nine feet tall, with dark green, scarred skin, the hulk looks pitch perfect; even the animation on the face is amazing - it's not all 'Grrr,' there's a certain degree of soul, weariness and genuine melancholy. That's not to say the 'Grrr' is gone because there are realistic (to a certain degree) scrappy fight sequences between the abomination (Blonsky on 'roids) and the hulk; in which hand, fist and leg are used to thrash and claw through the opponent. I think I'm just trying to justify it. My real reason is because he said "Hulk smash!" It doesn't get much better than that.

Highlighted Quote:
"Don't make me angry, you wouldn't like me when I'm... hungry. Wait, that doesn't sound right"

In A Few Words:
"I greatly underestimated the return of the hulk but I am pleased to say, this film was very well done"

Total Score:
7/10


Matthew Stogdon