I was itching to see The Incredible Hulk on opening night, certainly on the opening weekend, but circumstances prevented me from doing so and I had to put that enthusiasm on hold a little until I could free up some time to spend an evening at the theater. Which means that I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to avoid spoilers and such until I could go. Well, my Dad and I finally managed to free up an evening last night and go see the film so I thought I’d spend a few minutes discussing it a little here.
Like a number of moviegoers, I wasn’t really a big fan of Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk release, so I was really looking forward to seeing what the new Marvel Studios would be able to do after re-aquiring the license, particularly after their stellar Iron Man debut. And, honestly, not really knowing what to expect going into the film I can say that I wasn’t the least bit disappointed and genuinely enjoyed the film very much. Anyhow, for those that haven’t seen the film yet, and it appears that – like myself – there are still a few late to the party, here is how Marvel describes it:
‘The Incredible Hulk’ kicks off an all-new, explosive and action-packed epic of one of the most popular super heroes of all time. In this new beginning, scientist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) desperately hunts for a cure to the gamma radiation that poisoned his cells and unleashes the unbridled force of rage within him: The Hulk.
Living in the shadows—cut off from a life he knew and the woman he loves, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler)—Banner struggles to avoid the obsessive pursuit of his nemesis, General Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt) and the military machinery that seeks to capture him and brutally exploit his power.
As all three grapple with the secrets that led to the Hulk’s creation, they are confronted with a monstrous new adversary known as the Abomination (Tim Roth), whose destructive strength exceeds even the Hulk’s own.
And on June 13, 2008, one scientist must make an agonizing final choice: accept a peaceful life as Bruce Banner or find heroism in the creature he holds inside—The Incredible Hulk.
That’s actually more than you’d likely need to know going into the film, but having it fleshed out on the big screen is where the fun is. I freely admit that I was hoping to see an awful lot of “Hulk Smash” in the flick, I mean this is what the character does and what he does really well, but there is certainly more to the Hulk than smashing and sheer violence (always has been) and I was absolutely blown away with the way Marvel personified the Green Goliath, effectively balancing the creature’s absolute rage with a child-like nature that merely sought to be left alone, even cared for it the scenes between the Hulk and Betty Ross are an indication. These scenes underscore the fact that the Hulk isn’t a “monster” in the cruel sense of the word, but a tragic child-like innocent that resides deep in the heart of a behemoth who merely desires to protect himself and the ones he most assuredly loves.
It was fun to contrast the Hulk, with the misguided desires of both General “Thunderbolt” Ross and Emil Blonsky, particularly in the case of the latter. Blonsky’s thirst for power, and an edge, leads him down an all-together different road than Bruce Banner and in direct confrontation with the Hulk throughout the course of the film. But I don’t want to spoil too much there, just rest assured that there are some intense action scenes between Emil and the Hulk and that they are indeed epic. There’s a lot left to mention. I obviously loved the connection to Captain America that you can find in the film and turned to my Dad briefly to fill him in and quickly voice my enthusiasm (quietly of course). I also really appreciated the nod to the 1970′s Hulk series, including: the transformation scenes, the”Lonely Man” score that played during Banner’s exile, and Lou Ferrigno’s role as the Hulk’s voice and a security guard in the film (which was a fun scene between him and Edward Norton). And speaking of Norton, he really does do a fantastic job playing Banner. The scenes featuring his dejection and utter exhaustion are honest, but he brings just enough sense of humor to the role that the performance doesn’t become too “angsty” for its own good – just the right balance. Liv Tyler also did a very convincing job as Betty, impressively running the gauntlet of emotions that a character like this would have gone through, from utter joy at Bruce’s re-appearance to outright horror at the actions of her father, etc. Her anger management scene on the streets of New York, in particular, was a real hoot! I need to wrap this up, but I can’t do so without saying how much I enjoyed that final fight scene between the Hulk and the Abomination. With Iron Man, I was so impressed with the film and the conflict throughout that I was satisfied with the confrontation between Stark and Obediah at the end of the film, but when contrasting it with the final battle in The Incredible Hulk, there really is no comparison (now mind you, Iron Man obviously has its own strengths). Rarely, and probably not since Superman 1 & 2 have I been as engaged in a fight sequence as I was with the final confrontation between these two. The Hulk simply came to life on the screen in a way that was even greater than my expectations, and his fight to keep Betty safe and defeat the Abomination was felt in every punch, kick, and scream. Likewise, seeing his strength grow with his rage was awesome, in the literal sense of the word. So cool!
I really wanted to see this in the theater so as to take advantage of the larger than life visuals, the atmosphere and the sound. It was loud, and during some of those fight scenes the seats literally shook from the power of the speakers. It was almost as if you were right there watching the two battle it out and I highly encourage anyone that hasn’t seen it to try to get out and do so. So, yes, needless to say I loved the movie, it’s great fun, and I probably rank it somewhere just behind Iron Man, and right there with Spider-Man 1-2, which are my favorite Marvel movies to date. That’s darn good company.
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