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The Incredible Hulk … Rebooted

2008-06-13 13:59
The big green guy is back, and he's bad. Well, mostly. Director, Louis Leterrier (The Transporter 1 and 2), was given a mandate to keep things fresh and fast, and it shows. Rather than rebooting the series entirely, the Hulk’s back story is covered in the opening credits, albeit with minor adjustments. In this version, which more closely matches the comic, the Hulk kills a number of soldiers and injures Betty Ross during Banner's first transformation. Mostly the film is driven by a hunt for the cure, which may lie with an overacting Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother Where Art Thou?), a scientist who befriends Banner online but who has issues of his own.

Norton has played this kind of Jekyll and Hyde character before in both Fight Club and in his breakthrough film, Primal Fear. And Liv Tyler (Armageddon, The Lord of the Rings) is quite comfortable in the role of love interest. So why could we care less about them? The film also feels slightly derivative, incorporating elements of Batman Begins, King Kong, and even Ang Lee's Hulk. However, the fight scenes are very effective and there is more than enough action to satisfy moviegoers who like their films zippy. (Fans will probably be the only ones annoyed that the Hulk never grows larger as he becomes angrier.)

If this movie fails, it's not because of vaulting ambition. As a fan of Lee's original version, I was disappointed by the filmmaker's lack of concern for the character himself. In Lee's version, the Hulk's antagonists never subdue him through overwhelming force; instead he is forced to deal with the reasons for his own anger. The new film, however, eventually devolves to the standard comic-book movie ending: a one-on-one battle between two powerful beings who must beat each other into submission. This is clearly a film more in tune with the tone of Iron Man or a mooted ensemble superhero movie than one concerned about the nature or meaning of violence. It's simply one more brainless "summer" movie – but one which should leave lots of people very happy. I simply wasn't one of those people.
- Jaques van Heerden

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