Review: The Incredible Hulk

I’ll keep this succinct, since there have already been clever reviews and informative reviews and the movie as a whole is pretty review proof. In the sense that it is a well acted and crafted action/superhero/summer movie. The story moves briskly enough from set piece to set so you’re never really thinking about it because if you did you would ultimately walk away wishing you had just waited to rent it or download it.

Dr. Bruce Banner is on the run in Brazil and looking for a cure to his Hulk issue so that he can reunite with the lady he loves, Dr. Betty Ross. He’s doing everything from science to breathing exercises to control his anger, well, actually his heart rate. Seems this time around he Hulks out whenever his BPMs get above 200. Good thing the military isn’t trying to hunt him down! Oh wait. They are. So Banner has to run around. A lot. You can imagine what that does.

And so this goes for about two hours. Banner running and having PTSD from Hulking out, looking for a cure, trying to reconnect with Ross and fighting the military. Until a bigger threat happens when super-soldier Emil Blonsky hulks out into something called The Abomination and we have to have a Kaiju-style rumble on the streets of Harlem. So it’s lots of white people running around and destroying the famed black New York neighborhood. Yay!

Anyway, the performances are all top notch. You get the sense that there was a lot of footage left on the cutting room floor, you know the kind of footage that might have elevated this movie to something a bit higher. Made it a bit classier. You now things like character development or quiet character moments. As it stands, this version of the movie felt choppy at times. Plot threads were ditched and ignored all to keep the action moving.

As a character, the Hulk is pretty defensive and emo this time around. He doesn’t hulk out so much as reacts with rage. Maybe we’ll get a true rage bender in The Avengers, the kind where he just breaks shit and kills people and destroys buildings for the sake of it, but here he’s kind of mopey for an angry namby-pamby.

Okay, one more thing. The problem with The Incredible Hulk as a film property has a lot to do with the character of The Hulk. Sure, on the comics page or in cartoon form it’s not an issue to create something believable. But in film, it’s obvious that it’s nearly impossible to create a believable 12-foot muscular green monster. The character (and Abomination too) just looked too hokey at times, like we were watching a CGI monster.

The comparison here is in the difference between the believability of Ron Perleman’s Hellboy and the slight feeling of just rejecting the computerized Hulk. Hellboy is a giant red devil with shaved horns and yet whenever you watch him on screen he comes across as 100% real. It’s because of prosthetics and makeup that it’s possible. Unfortunately, you can’t create a 12-foot Hulk with makeup and prosthetics. Hopefully, CGI technology will advance to the point of believability when The Avengers movie begins filming, otherwise it might not matter how good that film is.

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