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"The Incredible Hulk"

Directed by Louis Leterrier.
Written by Zak Penn.
Starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth and William Hurt.

Release Year:  2008
Review Date:  6/15/08


It took actually seeing the new film "The Incredible Hulk" to realize that it is actually a sequel to the 2003 film "Hulk", as opposed to being a remake of that film, which I thought would be like the dumbest idea ever.  Adding to my confusion is that the filmmakers replaced every major actor, writer and director--Ang Lee did the last one--to do this sequel, but they didn't replace them with worse actors, they replaced them with better actors (save for Jennifer Connelly, supremely more talented than Liv Tyler...but, I digress) and an up-and-coming director named Louis Leterrier, a Frenchman who did both "Transporter" films and the very good Jet Li flick "Unleashed" from three years ago.  The end result?  A surprisingly good, violent, meaty action film that takes this franchise from arthouse flick to fan-friendly fare.

The major change is the complete lack of storytelling, in the traditional superhero/comic book sense; "The Incredible Hulk" starts five years after the original film and doesn't even both to introduce us to Bruce Banner (Edward Norton), but rather, we get to see Banner living out a life in Brazil as a fugitive from the US government because he's still got those curious problems controlling his anger.  The only backstory we do get concerns Banner's relationship to Dr. Betty Ross (Tyler), and how she might be able to help him suppress his gamma-induced deformity.  Otherwise, no flashbacks, no shots of Banner and his father (from the last film, played straight crazy-guy style by Nick Nolte) growing up, no time spent talking about Banner really at all, save for what is happening in the moment.  This is very strange given the property; the decision to dump this material is at times a very bad idea, but somehow, the pace and the action of the film make you forget that until the film is over.

As it is, the command Leterrier showed in his action sequences in his other movies pays off here, with excellent pacing throughout, and CGI that makes the Hulk look much scarier than he did in "Hulk" fact, the brawls between Hulk and the creature called Abomination late in the film are downright nasty, at least for two computer-designed creations; I actually wondered how good an idea it is to bring kids to watch this kind of stuff, because the fights look that roughhouse.  Then, you get a good back-and-forth between Banner and Ross, as well as tough guy Blonsky (Tim Roth, a good addition) and General Ross (William Hurt, formerly Sam Elliott)...splitting these scenes up, then making sure a chase or action scene is never far away, keep "The Incredible Hulk" intense enough for a Sunday afternoon.

And, the inevitable big fight at the end did not suck, which was different than another Marvel flick, "Iron Man"; in fact, I liked "The Incredible Hulk" more than "Iron Man" because we got a more evenly-laid product for two hours.  The first hour of "Iron Man" was better than "The Incredible Hulk", but unfortunately for "Iron Man", it wasn't over yet.  Start-to-finish, I had more fun during "The Incredible Hulk", which is a big surprise for me given my expectations.

Good stuff, but never great; I'm not exactly frothing at the mouth over another sequel, but a minor twist at the end of this film makes the Marvel universe very interesting over the next couple of years.  We'll see!

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09