Last weekend I saw The Incredible Hulk. Unlike most people, I actually kinda enjoyed 2003’s Hulk with Eric Bana and Nick Nolte–the first 45 minutes were really slow and people seemed to hate Ang Lee’s decision to use comic book frames for some shots, but it was light years better than Spiderman 3 as well as that last X-Men movie Brett Ratner sodomized.
The first Hulk movie ended up breaking even at the box office, and with Marvel Comics getting their studio now, you bet your purple stretch pants-wearing ass they were gonna go in heavy this time around.
First adjustment was getting a well-known Hollywood star to take over the role of Bruce “David” Banner.* Eric Bana’s a pretty good actor but Edward Norton was hardbody in American History X and he’s nailed Salma Hayek. Second adjustment was realizing that the Hulk has always been insanely popular, and just like Spider-Man, Batman, and Superman the audience knows Dr. Banner’s backstory going into the theater. Third adjustment was splitting the movie into two halves: the first half has Bruce laying low from the boys in blue down in the bale slums of Rio (not ironically listening to Diplo thank God), chatting on AOL with an unnamed scientist who just might be able to reverse his GAMMA curse, and passing up sex with exotic women that work with him at a bottling factory. He does have Liv Tyler on hold in the states after all.
The second half of the film finds Bruce unleashing his inner green on a college campus in Virginia leading to one of the greatest confrontations in film history. Tim Roth, always a great villain, plays a war geek that acts like the Hulk is Lil’ Bow Wow or sumptin and has the balls to step to him on some ‘Oh fa’ real? That’s all you got?’ before being kicked with a size 20 Hulk foot to the ribs, invariably turning his chest cavity into Cream of Wheat. Brilliant.
The last half hour completely does away with a plot or meaningful dialogue. It was directed by Louis Letterier of Transporter 2 and Danny the Dog fame, two fast paced action films with Euro influences. It was written by Zak Penn who by the end of this decade might be the richest man in Hollywood named “Zak”–he’s already written 2 X-Men films, Elektra, Fantastic Four, Spy Hunter, and is working on Captain America and the Avengers movies.
In a way, The Incredible Hulk just gives people what they want: a crazy green freak that rips cop cars in half and wears hipster jeans. He’s not as complex as Batman, nor as lovable as Spider-Man, nor as pro-NRA as the Punisher. He’s a geek that can punch a hole into the side of battleship when he gets pissed off, simple and plain. The 2003 version tried too hard to be the swan song of a roid raging loner with only a few memorable action scenes. This time around, they inject the Hulk with the shrieks of the T-Rex in Jurassic Park and give him an opponent that’s bigger and badder. The final battle is the most violent exchange between CGI creatures I’ve ever seen. Fans of MMA and UFC will be overjoyed.
The Incredible Hulk is just a fun summer movie based on a character that is built for big summer movies. I would suggest sitting as far away from the speakers as possible–the vicious ass kickings Hulks dishes out get really loud.
On a scale of 1 to 4 (1 = Stop or My Mom Will Shoot, 2 = Over the Top, 3 = Cobra, 4 = Tango and Cash), I give The Incredible Hulk 3 out of 4 Stallone Claps
*It’s weird how people in their 30s know him as David Banner because of the TV version of the Hulk, where television executives scrapped the name “Bruce” because it sounded too gay. Sadly, I’m not kidding.