- Released Internationally on 12/07/08
- Released in Malta by KRS on 18/06/08
In a nutshell
Only five years after the box-office and critical disappointment of Hulk, Marvel have decided to give everyone’s favourite green monster a second chance.
Why we’re hyped
This won’t be a sequel to the Eric Bana film, but rather a ‘reboot’ – just like Batman Begins was, meaning that the story of how Bruce Banner became mean and green will be retold, although this time around we’re reassured it will be in flashbacks, so hopefully it won’t take as long as it did in the previous version. Judging from the trailers, the CGI Hulk should be better than the hardly convincing 2003 model. Another promising sign is that Hulk has a worthy opponent this time around – the equally undomesticated ‘The Abomination’, which is a character from the Marvel comics who can match Hulk in the strength, radiation exposure, good-nature and looks departments. They’re going to be facing off in the streets of New York, so make sure you’re not parked anywhere close.
Who’s in it?
The always reliable Edward Norton (Fight Club, American History X) goes green, and everyone’s favourite pumpkin, Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction, The Legend of 1900), who has been absent from prominent roles from far too long, plays his counterpart. The lovely Liv Tyler (The Lord of the Rings, Jersey Girl) provides the gentle touch, and William Hurt (A.I., A History of Violence) runs the show back at HQ. The script was penned by Zak Penn, who worked on the last two X-Men scripts.
Comparisons are odious
When a film is essentially a remake of a film that was released only five years previously, it's impossible not to compare them, or at least to stand back and see why a retouch was deemed necessary. One would expect that no film-maker in his or her right mind would attempt such a project unless they were pretty sure they had something substantial to add or improve, and in this case, the inevitable comparisons make this version look good. Personally, I didn't mind Ang Lee's Hulk back in 2003, but the film definitely had its flaws, and when flaws include a very slow start and a quite confusing and anti-climactic ending, the chances are your audience will leave the cinema with a bad taste in their mouth.
The boy from Brazil
Slow start? Sorted. This time around, all the 'science-experiment-gone-wrong' story is dealt with during the opening credits, and we’re quickly introduced to the main characters and how they were involved in the lab disaster that made our friend slightly more anger-prone than the norm. We then cut to the favelas, or shanty-towns of Brazil for the spectacular opening sequence, as Bruce Banner is forced out of hiding and hits the road. The exotic setting might seem a bit confusing considering that Hulk ended with Eric Bana living in exile in the Amazon rainforest. But this is not a sequel, and Edward Norton immediately makes the role his, and all thoughts of Bana are banished from our brains as we are presented with a scared and isolated Bruce, desperately trying to keep his demons under wraps.
Khaki, not Kermit
Before long, we get to see the new CGI Hulk, after a bit of teasing as he lurks in the shadows. The improvement is immediately visible, and I think the actual design of Hulk is one of the best things about this film, and the biggest improvement from the previous one. The highlighter green cartoon-like skin and fancy purple bermudas are replaced by a darker, dirtier, more athletic beast, who manages to go from terrorising to tender convincingly, and somehow manages to make us see Bruce Banner beneath all the rage.
The grapes of Roth
Once the military latch on to Banner, we meet the hardened fighter Emil Blonsky, played with gritty determination and a spark of insanity by Tim Roth. The similarities between Roth and Norton are obvious, and as the film progresses they come face-to-face time and time again, and their antagonism is palpable as they build towards the film's grand climactic duel. And what a duel it is. A satisfying climax to such a big summer movie, the New York showdown is intense and spectacular, and ends the film on a high. We're also treated to a tiny Marvel treat at the end, with a cameo that throws open endless possibilities for future film options. And if they're of the calibre of this summer's Iron Man and Incredible Hulk, they'll be more than welcome.
http://www.apple.com/trailers/universal/theincrediblehulk/ (High-res QuickTime)