We’re sure to be in the minority, but Louis Leterrier’s new THE INCREDIBLE HULK reboot made us appreciate Ang Lee’s 2003 version more. The new HULK is a perfectly serviceable and entertaining superhero movie — Bruce Banner huddles in his ratty purple pants, an outcast from society, before morphing dramatically to a mediocre–CGI rampaging behemoth. The action moves along well, the characters aren’t too campy or too serious, Ed Norton and William Hurt holds their ends up, and Tim Roth and Liv Tyler don’t stink. No, there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s just a little TOO by the book.
By now Marvel movies have a formula that they stick to religiously. Sometimes, as with IRON MAN, it’s done really really well. Sometimes, as with THE INCREDIBLE HULK, it just hits all the beats as plastically as a big summer Usher hit. IRON MAN and HULK are pretty much the same movie, they even have identical “Lab montages” set to almost identical music and starring actors in almost identical wife-beaters.
As misguided as Ang Lee’s angst-filled father saga was, after seeing countless superhero movies rehashing the same formula, you have to give him credit for at least thinking and trying to reinvent something. It was, in the end, bolder and more daring than anything Leterrier’s Hulk could ever be.
Plus, Eric Bana is about 85,000 times hotter than Ed Norton. but that’s just us.
A few more spoiler notes in the jump.
• The funniest thing about this movie is that fact that the opening flashback is to A MOVIE THAT NEVER EXISTED.
• Norton has declined to do press for the movie, backing up stories of script squabbles. Maybe it’s those squabbles that give this movie a very badly edited feeling — one scene goes from broad daylight to a torrential downpour with nary a clue to how, and there are several other very jumpy, abrupt cuts. One scene starts looking out like it was shot on a rooftop but turns out to be on the ground…that kind of thing.
• The script isn’t stupid but it isn’t all that either.
• The final Hulk/Abomination fight lasts just the right amount of time, and actually makes good climax to the film. But that doesn’t mean that the Hulk CGI looks good. Oh no. The Hulk looks like an Earl Norem painting brought to life in every frame, but clearly they didn’t have the budget to make it Gollum level. In the end, these cartoony CGI heroes are no more realistic than the guys in suits of ’50s SF movies.
• WHY, every time he’s in danger of hulking out, does Bruce Banner run to a place where lots of innocent people will be the MOST damaged? IE, the Brazillian factory where the owner was kind to him and his girlfriend works; a school library. Come on now, Bruce!
• The in jokes — Lou Ferrigno, the Lonely Man theme, Stan Lee, SHEILD, Dr. Reinhart — are all good fun. The ending, with Tony Stark/Robert Downey Jr. sets up future Avengers movie very well. Since Norton isn’t signed for any sequels maybe there is some hope that we will see the 85,000x hotter Bana back?
• The fact that this by the book, competent movie is rated at 79% on Rotten Tomatoes and the visionary, innovative Speed Racer got a 35% just makes us sad, sad, sad.