January 15, 2009

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Although I do actually recommend that you see "The Incredible Hulk", there are just a few annoyances about the film that I have to share.

Firstly, the CGI. Now I know that it would be pretty difficult to create the Hulk any other way but this was really very bad indeed. In the shorter bursts the animation doesn't distract too much. It still doesn't look real but it is almost acceptable. However, in the longer action scenes, it all just looks like a computer game which spoils it.

Secondly, Tim Roth's character is absolutely ludicrous. Not only is he much too short to be a soldier (especially in comparison to the giant-like William Hurt) but he tends to lurch from side to side when he walks which also doesn't gel with any military training that I can think of. He was totally miscast and his performance was just embarrassing.

On the other hand, even though he really looks his age (40) at times, Edward Norton does a great job as Bruce Banner. He'll never be as good as the late Bill Bixby but having a top notch actor in something like this really makes a difference. It may cause a bit of a stretch of the old "willing suspension of disbelief" that he could actually get Liv Tyler as a girlfriend but she's no spring chicken now either so I think their onscreen chemistry works for the most part.

One thing that bugged me a lot though was the way that the initial "accident" that caused Dr Bruce Banner to become the Hulk was just rushed through during the opening credits. The same thing happened with the Iron Man movie in that the bits you want to see are left out with the assumption that everybody already knows the story. I think it was probably done to give the audience time to warm to Edward Norton and to save our first negative impressions of the Hulk CGI monstrosity until later. It almost worked so I suppose I should grudgingly give credit where it is due for not showing "the monster" too early.

The best thing about "The Incredible Hulk" is that it is 100 times better than Ang Lee's 2003 version. You can pretty much forget that it even exists now. There are frequent nods in this to the classic TV series which is really how it should have been done in the first place. Bill Bixby gets shown briefly on a TV screen and, apart from voicing the Hulk, Lou Ferrigno also plays a pizza-loving security guard for a minute or two. Even the haunting theme music that we of a certain generation all know and love is included.

Stan Lee has a cameo just to make sure that we all know that this is an official Marvel update and the ending with Robert Downey, Jr., as Stark promises yet another entry into the canon later on.

It will be interesting to see how the new Captain America film turns out before they launch into a full-blown "Avengers" series though.

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