Yes, I saw The Incredible Hulk Friday night.
But, I swear, I am not a hardcore movie or comic book geek. It was just coincidence that my buddy and I went to see this on opening night. Honest.
In a nutshell, The Incredible Hulk was a good movie. Not as good as Iron Man but way, way better than the last Hulk movie directed by Ang Lee. He may be a great director, but he just doesn’t understand American comic books. This movie, however, was better than average. And, from here on out, the spoilers are rampant, so if that bothers you, stop reading.
The movie starts with Bruce Banner in the slums of Brazil, hiding from both his green alter-ego and General “Thunderbolt” Ross and the U.S. military. He’s shown working with a martial artist learning both self-defense and how to control his emotions in an attempt to rein in the chaotic Hulk. (Incidentally, the martial arts instructor is “played” by Rickson Gracie, a world famous jiu-jitsu fighter and instructor.) Then, during the opening credits, they pay homage to the Incredible Hulk TV show, by showing a different version of the Hulk’s origin which, amazingly enough, blends both the old movie and the new version together quite well. The opening credits also have design documents from Stark Industries, referencing the Iron Man movie and highlighting Marvel’s brilliant strategy of crossing their movies over a bit for some built-in self marketing.
Of course, it doesn’t take long before Banner, played quite well by Edward Norton, runs into problems both with some local toughs and General Ross’ team of commandos. The end result? Here comes the Hulk, naturally. Well, Banner “Hulks out” and ends up several countries away in Guatemala, when he wakes up from his Hulk induced blackout. Naturally, he decides to keep heading North through Mexico to get back into the US where he hopes to retrieve the data from his old experiment that made him the Hulk to aid him in his quest for a cure. Naturally, this brings him back in contact with his old flame, Elizabeth Ross, played by Liv Tyler. Frankly, I don’t care for her as anything but an elf or a video vixen in her daddy’s videos. She is easily the weakest part of this movie. Well, as you might have guessed, old Thunderbolt Ross is there, watching and waiting for Banner. This time, though, he’s got more than just commandos to help him capture the good doctor. He’s got a full array armament, including a pair of sonic cannons that are fairly cool. Oh, and he’s given his pet commando, Emil Blonsky, played by Tim Roth, a super-soldier serum to make him, well, super.
Of course, Banner Hulks out again, and gets away, but this time he takes Betty Ross with him on the run. They try to find the scientist who’s been helping Banner find a cure, armed with the data for which Banner has risked all this trouble.
Well, I won’t tell you all the secrets in this movie, in case you plan on seeing it, but, I do have a couple more cool things to look out for. First, let me remind you of the Stark Industries reference to last month’s Iron Man movie. Also, there’s a cameo by Robert Downy Jr., aka Tony Stark, during a bar scene that also ties into Iron Man and the upcoming Avenger’s movie.
Naturally, there’s also a cameo by Stan Lee, Hulk creator and comic book legend. He plays a regular guy who drinks some tainted South American soda and, unfortunately, expires from gamma radiation poisoning. But, as always, his cameo is fun and funny.
Also, there are numerous tie-ins to the rest of the Marvel universe, which is very cool. In fact, there are many setups for a second Hulk film as well as the other references to recent and upcoming Marvel films that I’ve already mentioned.
I was disappointed that they edited out the Captain America cameo. Not sure where it was supposed to be, but it seems like a number of things that we were shown in early trailers and previews got trimmed or cut completely. Oh, well, at least it didn’t take anything away from the movie.
Oh, and don’t forget to look for a cameo by Lou Ferrigno, who played the original TV Hulk, as a security guard.
One small criticism, though, is the CG. You’d think it’d be the last thing I’d complain about, right? I mean, I’m total CG fan, sure, and the more realistic it is, the better I like it, but they almost go too far on the Hulk. He’s a little more than “real”, I think. I don’t know how much time they spent on it, but I think they spent a little too much time. Sometimes, less is more and I think this is one of those times. Or, at least, the should have spread the CG budget around a bit and used the effects on something other than the Hulk. I definitely think that the CG in Iron Man was better but, honestly, it’s only a minor thing.
So, in short, to sum up, The Incredible Hulk was good. Not as good as Iron Man, but better than Ang Lee’s version. Well worth seeing, especially if you’re a comic book fan.
Now, go see it!