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The Incredible Hulk
A second attempt at a Hulk movie.
The Incredible Hulk
A Scene from "The Incredible Hulk."
OPENING WEEKEND: $87,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $220,000,000
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

March 17th, 2008: Upon returning to civilization, our brilliant doctor is ruthlessly pursued by The Abomination -- a nightmarish beast of pure adrenaline and aggression whose powers match The Hulk's own. A fight of comic-book proportions ensues as Banner must call upon the hero within to rescue New York City from total destruction.

What to Expect: In the last decade advances in CGI and special effects technology have made scenes that seemed impossibly easy and cost effective to create. CGI generated characters, huge action sequences and computer generated worlds that now seem routine in most movies. Perhaps no other genre has both benefited and suffered from these advances as much as superhero movies. On the one hand, before these advances we only had humanoid superheroes that could be acted by people like Batman, Superman, Spiderman and the Hulk, since other characters would seem too fake. Now almost any comic book hero can easily be brought to the big screen. On the other hand, many directors now tend to use these special effects as a crutch, having special effects drive their movies instead of a well thought out plot.

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A perfect example of this was Ang Lee's The Hulk. The film had an all star cast and the best special effects money could buy, but behind this facade there was very little else. There was no major villain that had the power to stand up to the Hulk, other than his father who makes an appearance late in the movie. Bruce Banner does not fair much better because he fails to convey how emotionally damaging being the Hulk really is. Marvel got tired of seeing their beloved heroes being ruined by other studios and got the funding to produce the movies on their own and the first order of business was presenting their angriest green monster the way he is supposed to be.

This was a really hard undertaking considering that Lee's Hulk was released only five years ago and presented an origin to the story. Marvel decided to make their new Hulk a sequel, but to make subtle changes, that is until Edward Norton joined the cast. Norton convinced the producers to sever all ties with Lee's version entirely. Thus, this summer's The Incredible Hulk will feature a completely different movie than the one created by Lee. The new "reboot" version will rely much more on characters and story instead of action and CGI to present a much more human Hulk and a noticeably more dynamic Bruce Banner. These changes will restore The Hulk to the popularity he enjoyed in the late 70's and create a nice starting point for the Hulk franchise.

Some may think that I might be giving Norton too much credit. It is true that even before Norton, producer Avi Arad, director Louis Leterrier and the rest of Marvel's executives realized the mistakes made by Lee's version. They felt that the movie did too little to set up a franchise, since it did not really build Banner's character or give him any kind of nemesis strong enough to challenge him. Thus, Before Norton ever joined the cast, Zak Penn (X-Men: The Last Stand, Elektra) was hired to write a script that more closely resembled the comic and the hit show rather than the failed movie. However, his version was still a sequel to Lee's, relying on the 2003 movie for the Hulk's origins. After the script was complete, Edward Norton was offered the lead as Banner. Norton seemed perfect for his part because of his proven ability to play extremely conflicted people in movies like American History X and Fight Club. Yet, to the dismay of Arad, Norton - being a huge Hulk fan - decided to pass on the part, claiming that he did not want to "look stupid." Then he came to his senses and came back with a counter offer: he would be Banner on the condition that he can rewrite the script and have final approval. Arad reluctantly agreed to his demands as long as he did not take more than a month for the rewrite. Norton got to work on the script, passing up other projects to make sure he created the character to reflect the Hulk he grew up with. He decided to completely sever the ties with the 2003 version, relying on flashbacks to tell a new version of how the Hulk came to be.

The final script picked up five years after Lee's version, where Banner is desperately trying to escape his alter ego. In the opening sequence Banner hikes out into the artic to avoid people, a nice allusion to another misunderstood monster, Frankenstein. He then decides to end it all and tries to shoot himself, but the Hulk will not allow him to end it so easily, and the bullet bounces off the Hulk's impenetrable skin. Banner, now forced to live out his miserable existence, goes to hide out in the slums of Brazil. Realizing that he cannot kill himself, Banner tries to control his anger through meditation, Yoga, breathing exercises and even wearing a heart monitor. He is not a superhero by any sense of the word, he is just a regular man trying to bury his past and avoid his destiny. He takes on a job at a bottling plant and keeps a low profile to avoid being discovered by the army and General Ross, who heads the US Super Soldier program that aims to use Banner's research to create soldiers like the Hulk. Ross has become so obsessed with the Hulk that he has completely alienated himself from his friends, colleagues, family and even his beloved daughter Betty. Banner manages to frustrate Ross's attempts to find him until one day he cuts himself at work and a single drop of blood drops into a bottle. The bottle ends up in the US and the gamma radiation in his blood makes the woman who drinks it extremely sick. The army realizes that the radiation came from the Hulk and traces him back to Brazil. They send an elite unit headed by Emil Blonsky. Banner manages to evade capture and returns to the US to try to "cure" himself. He takes on a job as a pizza delivery man and seeks out his old love, Betty Ross. Betty and Banner decide to return to his old University to recover his notes to try to find a cure for him, but General Ross tracks them there and captures Banner. Ross immediately uses his blood to create a "gamma serum." Blonsky convinces Ross to inject him with the serum, but Blonsky is the wrong person. He is an aging soldier who loves the rush of battle and the power of killing people. These character flaws lead him to become the villain, Abomination. He gains the super powers of the Hulk, but has no way of transforming back to human form and goes on a killing rampage in NY, while the army and police can do nothing to stop him. The fate of the city now rests in the hands of the Hulk.

If you are a fan of the comic book then you will know that Abomination was a lizard like creature. Yet there is really no way to explain this since it is a human infused with gamma radiation and not a lizard. So in this movie, he will look much more like the Hulk. To keep more in tune with the comic, Abomination will have the gamma radiation injected directly into his bones giving him a spiky back and elbows more like the lizard tail he had in the comic. As you can see, this script stays true to its origin. The character of Banner is much more of a reluctant hero and is constantly on the run.

The nods to its origins did not stop with the script. In one scene Banner actually delivers a pizza to a security guard played by Lou Ferrigno of the "Incredible Hulk" show. Another delivery is made to a college student named Jack Mgee, a reference to Jack McGee, the reporter who chases the Hulk in the original series. Banner's occupation as a pizza delivery boy also brings him to STANLY'S PIZZA an allusion to the comic's creator Stan Lee who actually makes a cameo later in the movie.

The producers also wanted the Hulk to look more like Lou Ferringo did in the show. To accomplish the look, they decided to use more makeup and prosthetics to create the character just like the show did, instead of using CGI graphics like the 2003 version. They also decided to keep the Hulk at a constant size of 9 feet tall while in Ang Lee's movie the Hulk could grow indefinitely as he got angrier. As a result, this new Hulk will resemble the 1970's character in size and appearance. Marvel even went out and bought the rights to "The Lonely Man Theme," the iconic theme song of the TV series.

Unfortunately, not everything about this movie is an improvement from the 03' version. Marvel's decision to go with Louis Leterrier might have been a big mistake. Leterrier really wanted to work on a Marvel movie and asked to do Iron Man, which is also coming out this summer, but Arad decided to give him the Hulk. I am not sure why he has so much pull at Marvel considering he has done only two movies, Transporter 2 and Unleashed, and both were not very good. They did have lots of action but not much else. He is also a little too obsessed with Parkour or "free walking" which makes the movie look a little too fake. Furthermore, Parkour seems like a fad that is cool in movies today, but will be made fun of when people look back on today's films like District B-13 and Transporter 2. Unfortunately, he loaded many of the action sequences in the Hulk with this "free walking."

The other factor working against this new Hulk is the special effects. In the 03' version Ang Lee used Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic which is the gold standard for special effects. Leterrier decided to go with Rhythm and Hues (Chronicles of Narnia, X-Men 2) which is definitely inferior to Industrial. I guess I am contradicting myself since I said that special effects should not be the center piece, but I think you should still use the best.

Lastly, a consorted effort was made to make the Hulk look more human, but they made one huge mistake. The look of the Hulk was finalized before Norton was ever cast to play Banner. As a result, the Hulk does look human but he looks nothing like Banner. The Hulk actually has a scar and a mole on his face while Norton does not, yet technically the Hulk is supposed to be a blown up Banner. Sounds like a major plot hole to me.

Despite these few negatives, there are plenty more good things worth mentioning. The first has to be the excellent cast. I have already discussed the merits of having Edward Norton, who is an extremely talented actor and even looks a little like Bill Bixby who played Banner in the TV series, but there is also a very talented cast who is supporting Norton. First, we have Liv Tyler as Betty Ross. Tyler is obviously one of the most attractive actresses in Hollywood, although, with questionable talent. Then we have William Hurt as General Ross and Tim Roth as Blonsky. Leterrier actually met with a lot of resistance when he cast Roth, but I think he made the right choice. The actor brings that intensity bordering on madness that will make the transformation to the monster Abomination a lot more believable. The second positive is the fact that Marvel is actually producing this film. Marvel is not just making this movie for short term profits, instead they want to create a long running franchise. They also want to bring their entire Marvel universe to the big screen and allow their superheroes to interact and make appearances in each other's movies just like they used to do in the comics. This might start in this movie when Iron Man makes a guest appearance. As both franchises grow, there will be more and more interaction among them, including an eventual Avengers flick.

In Conclusion: The summer of 2008 is looking like the summer of superheroes. It is a safe bet to say that the latest Batman installment and Iron Man are both sure blockbusters but now we can add The Incredible Hulk to the list. The Hulk will return to its roots by blending human drama with high octane action in a well-acted and well-written movie. This movie will not only score big at the box office but will also serve as a great foundation for more Hulk movies by bringing back old fans of the superhero and winning many younger fans who have never read the comic or seen the TV show.

Similar Titles: The Hulk, Incredible Hulk, The: The Television Series Ultimate Collection, Batman Begins
June 13th, 2008 (wide)
October 21st, 2008 (DVD)

Universal Pictures, Marvel Studios

Louis Leterrier

Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Christina Cabot, Tim Blake Nelson, Martin Starr, Ty Burrell

Total: 254 vote(s).

Action & Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Click here to view site

Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action violence, some frightening sci-fi images, and brief suggestive content.

114 min





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