Old green eyes is backBy Kim Francis
June 20, 2008
The Incredible Hulk (12a)
Stars - Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, William Hurt, Tim Roth
Since the release of Batman back in 1989, the superhero movie has steadily grown to massive proportions, with big bucks thrown at each production and even bigger bucks reeled in.
Hot on the heels of Iron Man comes the latest incarnation of The Incredible Hulk.
Keen to satisfy the cinema-going public’s taste for big stunts, plenty of action and breathtaking special effects, Ang Lee’s brooding, cerebral 2003 version has been largely forgotten as studio executives try to create a new money-spinning franchise.
This one re-introduces us to Dr Bruce Banner (Ed Norton). He’s hiding out in Brazil, trying to evade capture by the US military and keep his emotions under control while scouring the planet for a cure for his condition – which in case you’ve forgotten sees him turns big, green and scary when he gets angry.
Helping out in a drinks factory fixing machines by day, a drop of his genetically altered blood finds its way into a bottle and is exported back to the United States.
When the US military trace it back to his Brazilian hideaway, he is quickly hunted down, forcing Dr Banner to return to the US, hopeful that an antidote has been manufactured by his cyberspace cohort Mr Blue.
However, he has more than just the US to contend with when a monster to match his own powers appears on the scene.
Only this one is even more aggressive and has destruction in mind.
Ed Norton makes a sensitive and sympathetic Bruce Banner and this is testament to his considerable acting talent rather than anything the script contributes.
The film assumes you know the back story and, while most of us do, anyone young enough or not interested enough to have seen the 1978-82 television series or Ang Lee’s 2003 take won’t know much about Dr Banner, other than what they pick up from a series of brief flashbacks that re-run the gamma-ray incident.
The touching love story between Bruce and Dr Elizabeth Ross (Liv Tyler) is one of the film’s highlights, adding heart, depth and warmth to a movie marred by some clunky computer-generated monsters, which jar with the sombre tone of the film’s opening.
Despite downbeat moments, the film is not without humour and good performances from not only Norton but also Tim Roth and a sensitive, vulnerable and melancholy Liv Tyler as Betty ensure this is a riveting watch.
Fans of comic book adaptations will no doubt enjoy the climactic battle of brawn at the film’s finale.
Meanwhile longstanding fans of The Incredible Hulk will appreciate the film’s nods to the original television series, including a clip of Bill Bixby and a cameo from Lou Ferrigno as well as borrowed music, Bruce Banner’s trademark green eyes and the laboratory machinery.
Although you’ll cringe when the hulking beasts speak, The Incredible Hulk moves faster than the excruciatingly slow-paced Ang Lee film and is more penetrable and engaging, making for an entertaining summer blockbuster.