Cast: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt
Director: Louis Letterier
Running Time: 114 mins
So after Ang Lee's 2003 disgrace starring Eric Bana, Marvel's Hulk decided to have another crack at the big screen, this time with a script and story much closer to the comics. The much anticipated Incredible Hulk was first conceived as a sequel to the 2003 movie but eventually severed all ties with the previous movie and much to the satisfaction of marvel comic lovers all over the world rebooted the saga.
Fans of the comic will certainly appreciate the effort put into this film to create a closer connection with the original story and the much loved 70's TV series starring Bill Bixby. The film reloads the origins of the Hulk through opening credit flashbacks which severs the bonds with the 2003 flick in which Banner turns into the Hulk by complete accident. Unlike Ang Lee's movie there are no split screens and comic-like camera angles.
However, the Incredible Hulk has a better wit about it and a greater flow to the story with no shocking changes to the tale. There are certainly no giant mutated dogs and no ludicrously luminous hulks flying through the air like they weighed two ounces. Furthermore the film was not boring and was packed with excitement and drama while not losing the sensitive human battle evident within Dr. Banner. The introduction of the Abomination (Tim Roth) is also vital as comic fans needed to see a familiar super villain after the previous film.
The cast ultimately proved to be essential to the film's execution. Bana was first approached to take the lead role again but refused (wisely) and Norton who shares similarities with Bill Bixby was then cast as Banner. Norton, who is a fan of the comics, immediately changed the script turning this hulk into a complete reboot. A very wise decision indeed.
Norton who struck the lead in American History X and Spike Lee's 25th Hour is by far one of my favourite actors and in this film he delivers a performance that would be far better appreciated by fans than Bana's melodrama in 2003. The film manages to capture the true battle faced by Banner and the important theme of controlling his anger which was left out earlier. William Hurt's character (General Thaddeus Ross) is a little flawed as his obsession with the Hulk makes it a little difficult to understand his actions even against his own daughter Betty Ross.
Meanwhile Liv Tyler (Betty Ross) was by far the weakest in the film as Jennifer Connelly's powerful character was the highlight in the previous one. Tyler seemed unaware of the w ill that Betty Ross possesses in the comics and was a little too 'princessy' as always.
The soundtrack to the film is also very similar to the 70s TV series as some parts of "The lonely man" theme is found in the new Hulk movie especially when Banner is highlighted as a lonely fugitive. Even the lonely walk in the rain is featured in the film.
The film is by far superior to the first, as Hulk himself looks far more realistic while the story is leagues ahead of its overcooked predecessor. The tempo of the story and the action sequences will keep audiences more than satisfied with the reload of the famous hero.
Fans of the comics will also love the subtle connections made with the 70's TV series and other comic heroes as well. A funny scene in the beginning of the film shows Norton flipping through the channels of his TV sitting in his Brazilian apartment and Bill Bixby is seen on screen for a few seconds. The film also makes subtle hints at other parts of the comic as well as the future of some other Marvel comic heroes.
Betty Ross in one comic scene flings a seemingly gaudy pair of purple stretch longs at Banner who is seen wearing the pair frequently in the comics.
However, for the sake of sanity the pair was refused by Norton in the film. Meanwhile one of the sound tanks used to subdue the Hulk in a battle sequence had 'Stark Enterprises' written on the sides making clear connections with the Iron Man, while a cameo at the end puts the future of marvel related movies into perspective.
The film, like Iron Man shares the platform for future movies such as Thor, Captain America and eventually The Avengers combining all the team's superheroes into one gigantic Marvel fest said to come out in 2011.