** Part 2 of 2 old unpublished reviews. **
I saw The Incredible Hulk a few weeks ago and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the film. I'll say upfront that I don't find the character of the Hulk to be particularly interesting and I don't know that much about the wider universe that he inhabits, i.e. villains. I didn't really like Ang Lee's version of the film but I didn't hate it with as much vitriol as some people but I suppose that is because I don't have any fondness for the character. Now after seeing this version I can say that my mind has changed and I actually cared about the Hulk.
This movie makes a few references back to the TV show from the seventies, especially in one sequence where they play the music from the show. It is a very effective scene to get across to the audience the loneliness and sadness that Bruce Banner is feeling. The whole film does a wonderful job of making us feel a lot of sympathy for the Hulk. It is in his facial expressions and the way in which he shuffles sadly around the screen. At this point I must make a special mention of the CG that is used to bring the creature to life. It is simply amazing in certain scenes. It is better than the last version, which you would expect considering it is five years on. Still the facial animation, especially in the final battle is simply amazing. It is a step on from King Kong and several from Gollum.
Having praised the Hulk effects I have to point out that I felt some of the other effects sequences were below par. Especially the scene with the attack chopper at the university - the whole scene just looked cartoony. Perhaps too much time was spent on the Hulk and they left themselves short of time and money on other sequences.
I really liked the cast in the film. I remember being amazed when I heard that Ed Norton had been cast as Bruce Banner. I knew that he would be able to play Banner with ease but I found it hard to picture him in a big action movie. His performance is spot on though, Banner is unassuming, softly spoken and desperately sad. He has no trouble with the Hulk out sequences as Norton is well used to playing angry, i.e. American History X, Fight Club. William Hurt is another actor I like and he is well suited to the role of General Ross. Although he didn't exactly chew the scenery in the way I was expecting. Liv Tyler was okay in the role, nothing special. I personally don't think she is a particularly gifted actress. I think Jennifer Connelly is still the definitive Betty Ross. Tim Roth plays his part very well as an angry over the hill soldier.
It is my understanding that the idea behind this reboot/sequel/remake was to provide the missing ingredient from the Ang Lee film - action. And plenty of it. In that respect I think it underwhelms. There are three big Hulk sequences but they are all fairly similar. It isn't like the Hulk is know for his cool martial arts skills or John McClane like oneliners. I did like the action scene at the University though, it was cool to see the Hulk go toe to toe with the army. The final battle with Abomination though was a let down. It was one long CG sequence with the two creatures battling it out. It is great on a technical level (particularly the facial animation of a struggling Hulk) but I got bored about half way through and hoped it would end quicker. After seeing the director, Louis Leterrier's The Transporter recently I was hoping for some more imaginative action sequences but I was left disappointed.
On the whole it was a very enjoyable movie. Good acting, decent if not spectacular action and some really good scenes dealing with the emotional side of the story. The scene with Betty and the Hulk in the cave is a particular favourite. I'd recommend this film to anyone who enjoys comic book adaptions.
This is the second movie made directly by Marvel Studios (Iron Man being the other) and I do really like the way this studio is shaping up. This film and Iron Man are all a prelude to The Avengers and with the quality of the movies so far I feel that Marvel comic movies are in good hands and look forward to the next release. Roll on 2011 for The Avengers movie.