A not-so-incredible "Hulk"

June 16, 2008, midnight | By Sophia Deng | 12 years, 4 months ago

"The Incredible Hulk" is strong but far from terrific

After Ang Lee's flop with 2003's "The Hulk," director Louis Leterrier's "The Incredible Hulk" is back with a vengeance. "The Incredible Hulk" provides a breath of fresh air, and is altogether stronger, faster and more furious than its old self – but still not quite incredible.

"The Incredible Hulk" starts with quick montages that give background to a not-so-little problem that main character Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) possesses. Rapid flashes show a machine injecting Banner with gamma radiation, making him turn into the Hulk when his heart rate surpasses 200 beats per minute. Back in the present day, Banner is a fugitive hiding in Rochinha Favela, Brazil from the U.S. Army, which wants the gamma radiation formula inside of him to create indestructible weapons and soldiers. While working a menial job in a soda pop factory, taking anger management classes to control the big green monster inside of him and learning Portuguese by watching Sesame Street, Banner works on finding a cure for his problem.

After the movie establishes that Banner is a lonely fellow who misses his girlfriend Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) and no longer wants to be the Hulk, the real action begins when Betty's father, General Ross (William Hurt) of the U.S. Army and his team of soldiers, led by Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) locate Banner in Brazil. The chase in Brazil with Banner and the U.S. soldiers is one of the best scenes in the movie. Enhanced by lightning-fast camera shots and fast-paced action atop vibrant Brazilian rooftops, the chase is a splendid and heart-pounding sequence.

General Ross becomes increasingly desperate to capture Banner, even going so far as to inject Blonsky with a gamma radiation formula to turn him into the Abomination. The stage is set for a climactic and well-done final battle between the two irradiated beings.

Acting in "The Incredible Hulk" is generally superb. Edward Norton portrays the Hulk with great sensitivity and intelligence. He gives the Hulk a heart, so viewers root for and care about him, even when he viciously crushes people and tanks like ants. Tim Roth plays Blonsky quite malevolently. Strong determination to find Banner and pure infatuation with power provides Roth with material to give Blonsky the evil needed for audiences to immediately hate his character. Liv Tyler also does her part by making Betty Ross vulnerable and innocent. However, Tyler's performance can be stiff and monotonous at times. She constantly sports teary eyes, and whispers clichéd deep words like "Bruce" and "It's okay" in dire times. Nonetheless, the love story of Ross and Banner is poignant and touching.

Action is well played and aided by special effects. The special effects are interesting because they are not realistic, but their lack of realism gives "The Incredible Hulk" a wonderful comic book feeling that Marvel is known for. The Hulk, for example, looks like he wears green plastic as he transforms from human to monster. The crashing, exploding, burning and car turning effects are also not very realistic, but they always serve well to enhance the action and impact of the movie.

The main disappointment has to be the ending of "The Incredible Hulk," which leaves too many events unresolved and annoyingly screams "sequel." However, the ending scene, with a very special cameo appearance, is remarkable enough that all loopholes are forgotten.

One of the greatest aspects of "The Incredible Hulk" is that it is not a pure action movie. It entwines a moving love story with humor and, of course, action and a plethora of special effects. With great acting and action but no real depth, "The Incredible Hulk" is nowhere near incredible, but it certainly gives meaning to great summer entertainment and fun.

The Incredible Hulk (112 minutes) is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action violence, some frightening sci-fi images and brief suggestive sexuality. Now playing everywhere.

Sophia Deng. Sophia was the Managing Editor of SCO during the 2009-2010 school year. When not laughing or chilling to OWL CITY, Sophia can be found oil painting, playing volleyball, doing sudokus and sprinkling happy fairy dust over everyone. She loves folk/pop/electronica indie, Harry Potter, Burt's Bees … More »

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