For those of you who havent followed the information released about the film or seen it yet, youre no doubt wondering why the film isnt Hulk 2. The reason for that is that it is not a sequel. It is a re-telling of the story of Hulk (the Ang Lee 2003 film), including the origins behind the character and featuring one of the Hulks greatest villains Abomination. It is also the first of the proper Hulk franchise.
The film begins with an experiment (as the opening credits roll), in which Bruce Banner is sitting in a lab chair, prior to being hit with the gamma radiation. When this occurs, the great green Hulk is unleashed, causing him to rampage through the facility, injuring Betty Ross and General Thunderbolt Ross in the process. Bruce is thus in hiding attempting to find a cure.
The scene is then set for an attempted botched capture, giving Emil Blonsky (played brilliantly by a menacing, slightly crazed looking Tim Roth) a chance to see the Hulk in action. He is then given the supersoldier serum (a nod to the coming Captain America film) to put him on more even terms with Banners alter-ego.
Ultimately, this sets him up to become the abomination at the hands of Samuel Sterns no doubt all you comicbook stalwarts out there are fully aware hes the Leader. For those of you who dont know, hes another Hulk villain who could well appear in the sequel. His power is his intellect and he wishes to have the Hulks amazing strength and power to go with it.
There was rumour going around that both Edward Norton and Louis Leterrier wanted to have a longer, more meditative cut exploring the nature of the Hulk. Studio execs however wanted a more action driven film to appeal to a wider audience. The tone of the film is somewhere in-between, showing both Bruces struggle with his inner rage and some brilliant set pieces against both the army and Hulks super powered enemy, Abomination.
Although some did want Eric Bana to return as Banner, theres no doubt that Norton provides an excellent turn as Bruce. He shows subtleties in his acting that prove hes got a wealth of talent. Unfortunately, the same cant be said for Liv Tyler, who is only average as Betty Ross. Then again, her scenes with the Hulk show some emotion and given that shes acting against something that isnt there then she does that pretty well.
Moving on to the special effects, generally speaking they are all very good. The Hulk is naturally very well realised with a range of filters such as using the dark, smoke and even sound waves to disguise his (naturally computer generated) appearance. The Abomination isnt perhaps as good but then he does look less human than the Hulk.
The various explosions and the end fight are true standouts of action cinema featuring CG. When Hulk and the Abomination get to it there was some palpable tension in the cinema, with one person behind me actually shouting come on Hulk! when he started to take a beating. Audience involvement indeed! I couldn’t fail to mention the sound after the visuals. The bellowing of the Hulk is just something else – it is like the angriest elephant/person you’ll ever hear. It’s really impressive when he lets loose, and top marks go to the guys in the foley studio.
Perhaps one of the best parts of the film (for me at least) was that it clearly took great inspiration from the TV series. The machinery that started it all looks similar, the music when Banner is on the run was the same and theres even a reference to the famous purple pants. As a huge fan of Bill Bixbys time as Bruce Banner I really enjoyed this element of the film. Im certainly glad that Leterrier saw fit to put it in.
There are three main cameos in the film, each serving a different purpose. The first is Stan Lee he buys a drink that contains some of Banners blood, apparently giving him a nice kick and putting Thunderbolt Ross on the Hulks trail. The second is Lou Ferrigno, formerly the Hulk of the TV show and appearing as a security guard in the movie (he also voices the Hulk).
The last cameo comes right at the end of the film in the form of Robert Downey Jr. Once again he is Tony Stark, with a hint at the Hulk either joining The Avengers (another Marvel production positioned for a 2011 release) or even being a future adversary. The film as a whole has a huge amount of fan service and the ending just sums it up perfectly Marvel is willing to go quite far indeed to give people what they want to see.
Did I enjoy The Incredible Hulk? Absolutely. So much so that I actually want to see it again soon. If youre in any way a fan of the Big Green then youll love this. Its a wonderful comicbook adaptation and a great film in its own right. Go see it.