Review: The Incredible Hulk

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Between its uncomplicated plot and high-impact action sequences, this kid-friendly adventure is a perfect summer blockbuster.

[Entertainment: Film Review]

 

Five years ago, The Hulk was brought to the big screen by Ang Lee.


But despite critical acclaim, the Academy Award-winning director’s artsy interpretation flopped at the box office. Now, Universal Pictures has decided to go back to the storyboard, and to reintroduce the Marvel Comics superhero afresh as if the initial adaptation of the picture didn’t even exist.


The new picture is directed by Louis Leterrier (The Transporter) who has opted to overhaul the entire cast. So say sayonara to Eric Bana as the title character and to the rest of the principals, including Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly, two-time nominee Nick Nolte, Sam Elliott and Josh Lucas. This version stars Ed Norton as Dr. Bruce Banner, a scientist who was conducting research with gamma rays when something went horribly wrong in the lab.


Via the magic of flashbacks we learn that Bruce was left with a short fuse which transforms him into an invincible green behemoth whenever he fails to control his temper. We also know that his girlfriend Betty (Liv Tyler) was knocked unconscious in the same accident and that her father, Army General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt) blames Banner for his daughter’s injuries.


As the story unfolds, we find Bruce on the lam and working on an assembly line in a Brazilian bottling factory which manufactures soft drinks.


He’s been quietly trying to find a cure for his condition while keeping a low profile.


But then, a cut on the finger leads to a bit of his blood dropping into a container of soda about to be shipped to America. And before you can say “Ay Caramba!” the source of the contaminated gamma-laced crate is traced back to its point of origin in Brazil and a crack team of Army commandos soon descends on the place. The mild mannered Banner, who had been incommunicado for almost six months, loses his cool and turns into The Hulk in order to escape.


He returns to the States, and enlists the assistance of fully-recovered Betty, only to have her dad’s henchman, Blonsky (Tim Roth) still on his tail. Worse, Blonsky morphs into a worthy, superhuman adversary, The Abomination, after voluntarily being injected with an experimental radioactive serum.


This development inexorably leads to a colorful showdown in Harlem of all places. At that juncture, computer-generated imagery tends to dominate the screen, with the protagonist and his new nemesis knocking each other up and down 125th Street in a special f/x-driven battle royal which practically looks like a cartoon.


Between its uncomplicated plot and high-impact action sequences, this kid-friendly adventure is a perfect summer blockbuster. Note the closing credits cameo by fellow Marvel superhero Iron Man hinting that a joint sequel might be in the works. Also look for brief tribute appearances by Lou Ferrigno who originated the role of the Hulk on TV, and by the character’s comic book creator, the legendary Stan Lee.


Can anybody smell the franchise that Marvel is cooking?



Excellent (4 stars). Rated PG-13 for violence, frightening sci-fi images, and brief suggestive content. In English and Portuguese with subtitles. Running time: 114 minutes. Studio: Universal Pictures

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