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Review of The Incredible Hulk (4 stars) June 13, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Stuff, Other Random Stuff.
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Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Note: this contains some spoilers, but I am not giving a full summary. If you want full spoilers of this movie, please go here. For those wanting my original “spoiler-less” review, please go here.

While Incredible Hulk is obviously not as good as Iron Man, it still provides an entertaining movie experience for both the comic fan and casual movie-goer. The movie quickly cuts to the chase as we see Hulk’s fairly well known origin story as a series of flashbacks during the main titles (with a few Easter eggs scattered around). The story here moves into three acts, each culminating in a Hulk attack.

The first act features Banner in Brazil as he works to find a cure, consulting with a mysterious “Mr. Blue” via the internet, and supporting himself by working at a local soda bottling factory. In an accident, Bruce’s blood drips into a soda bottle later to be shipped to the USA and drunk by an unsuspecting civilian (Stan Lee no less!) After Stan gets “Gamma poisoning,” General Ross is able to locate Bruce and sends in a strike team, including soldier Emil Blonsky, to capture him. Along the way, we also get Bruce’s humorous blunder as he tries to say his tagline in Portuguese: “Don’t make me hungry, you won’t like it when I’m hungry!” (The same could be said about me! 😉 ) Here we get two very action packed scenes in a row as the soldiers chase Bruce over the rooftops of Brazil (I thought it was pretty darn suspenseful), and when the game of cat and mouse finally ends, Bruce is provoked into transforming. This first appearance of the Hulk (outside the opening credits) was very well done in that we mostly get teasings. You’d see the shadow of Hulk here and perhaps just his arm there. We don’t finally see the full Hulk until right before he escapes. Only seeing bits helped to emphasize the fear that the soldiers were experiencing by keeping us in the dark as much as they were.

In the second act, Bruce is able to make it back to the Americas and eventually reunites with Betty. While the lines shared between these two are few, the acting and body language make it obvious to the audience the pain that these two are experiencing. Craig Armstrong’s wonderful score also adds immensely to these scenes. Later, Bruce obtains the information he needs to send to “Mr. Blue,” to help find a cure, but before he gets the chance to send it, the second “Hulk out” of the movie begins as the U.S. Army attacks him on Culver Campus. This time we see Hulk full on, and there is smashing aplenty. Audience members who love to see things blow up and get destroyed will be more than appeased by this scene. Hulk also fights with Blonsky, who has been given a variant of the super-soldier formula, and unfortunately for Blonsky, “Hulk smash” every bone in his body. While this scene was visually stunning, my first major complaint of the movie comes from the “sonic cannons” used against Hulk. I realize that comic book movies use futuristic technology, it is part of the genre, but did they have to use something so cheesy looking? Sonic cannons certainly sound like a cool idea (no pun intended), but I really think they needed to redesign the look. Oh well, at least I got the pleasure of seeing Hulk smash those as well. Hulk escapes once more, this time with Betty, and we get some more trade offs between character development scenes and humorous scenes before finally moving to the third act.

Needless to say, the climax of the movie is the big showdown between Hulk and the Abomination (but not before introducing the Leader, hinting at sequel!). This scene is full to the brimming of super-powered violence as these two creatures of rage duke it out. My two favorite parts include the Hulk’s use of a police car as boxing gloves, and finally the inevitable line of “HULK SMASH!” After Hulk defeats the Abomination and goes on the run once more, we get the final scene with Ross in a bar only to be visited by Tony Stark! Tony has come to talk to Ross about Hulk because, as he says, “we’re putting a team together.” Some may complain that between these two scenes there is very little closure, but this is of course because they want to leave it wide open for a sequel.

While this movie holds a lot nods to comic book fans (and abounds in Easter eggs), it should still an enjoyable experience for action movie lovers. I realize this movie may not be everyone’s cup of tea (unlike Iron Man, which everyone I’ve talked to seemed to love), but if you normally enjoy comic book movies and/or you actually want to see the Hulk’s character done right (unlike 2003’s version), then I highly recommend this movie.