The Incredible Hulk
Paul Cook 19/06/2008
It's almost 5 years ago that we saw the release of Ang Lee's wholly forgettable, clumsy crack at making a comic book movie. Packed full of plot holes and saturated in CGI it wasn't a financial flop by any means but it also wasn't pleasing the critics nor the fans. Sam Raimi's Spiderman movie and sequel (we'll attempt to forget the $300million miss hit of a third) embodied the essence of comic book action. CGI aided and enhanced the story rather than comprised it. Raimi injected the films with a poignant and balanced romantic story thread. With these boxes ticked Spiderman satisfied not only the hardcore fans but also attracted a fresh-faced audience too. Unfortunately, rather than taking inspiration from Raimi's critical and financial super hit, the latest stab at the not-so-jolly green giant The Incredible Hulk has slipped back into the comfortable format that Ang Lee left us with back in 2003; a promising action adventure that digresses into a Hollywood binge of special effects, cheesy comic-book one-liners and misguided, spectacle-driven plot.
Despite this unmistakably cynical overview the film does start in fact with promising direction, at-times stunning cinematography and a typically solid Edward Norton performance. In the opening scenes, set in the cinematically pleasing, sprawling slums of a south American town we find Bruce Banner (Norton) hiding out, trying to live a normal, calm life unaffected by his genetically destructive alter-ego. Directed and edited with pace and flair the film is certainly a smooth, slick creation to rival the best of the comic-book adaptations. However it is this approach and style that ends up not only creeping in but eventually engulfing the entire film and evidently clouding the creative judgement of all those involved. The CGI in the film is impressive and used well for two thirds of the film, the stunts are typically over the top and the plot is cohesive and progresses well. It is when Bruce Banner has reached his destination (New York) and is seemingly at the end of his quest that the film then wallows in the gluttony of a Hollywood blockbuster budget and all the possibilities that come with it.
After the apparent conclusion to the film in which Banner has supposedly been cured of being the Hulk, the film then digresses horribly into a vacuous, dumb onslaught of action, explosions and monsters aplenty. Tim Roth stars throughout the film as Emil Blonsky, a Russian special ops lieutenant with a bizarrely American tinted, English accent. Having undergone similar gamma exposure that had mutated Banner, Roth then becomes a “Super-soldier” physically and mentally superior than his counterpart soldiers. Addicted to such power, Blonsky then undergoes further exposure and mutates into a Godzilla-like beast, rampaging New York city. Sound familiar? Not only does the film begin to look like Godzilla, the plot then follows suit, concluding in a battle between Hulk and Beast. The clichés don't stop there unfortunately. As it's set in New York and there's a giant beast destroying the city it also bares uncanny resemblance to Cloverfield.
Unfortunately the biggest disappointment, and there are a lot of them, is that this redux of Hulk begins so promisingly and ends so uncreatively and unoriginally. As well as a saturation of CGI and a wayward narrative towards the last third of the film, the careless paradoxes between half a dozen other movies mean that you can not enjoy even what The Incredible Hulk does have to offer which is a host of strong performances and initially commendable filmmaking by director Louis Leterrier. It may well be better than Ang Lee's disasterous HULK but is by no means any more recommendable.