Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Incredible Hulk **1/2

Director: Louis Leterrier
Cast: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler
Tim Roth, Tim Blake Nelson, William Hurt

Last time we saw Hulk he had left the United States in order to learn to control his powers without hurting those he loved and to escape being used as an army guinea pig.
He was also being played by Eric Bana, directed by Ang Lee and had more psychological backstory to it than a patient at Betty Ford.
All of those elements were apparently too much, or not enough, and "Hulk" has gone down in history as a bizarre example of a very good film, with adequate box office, being deemed as a flop.
Five years later comes "The Incredible Hulk" which in a nutshell is everything the original Hulk was not: loud, big and mindless.
Because a complete reboot would've been a waste of time, a summary of what happened before serves as opening credits, Bruce Banner (Norton) is now living in the slums in Brazil where he's trying to learn to control his anger and find a cure to avoid transforming into Hulk.
He takes lessons with a breathing specialist, is careful never to let his heartbeats reach 200 which sets off the transformation and shares information with a New York scientist (Blake Nelson) trying to develop an antidote.
He is being hunted by General Thaddeus Ross (Hurt) who wants to create a whole army of Hulks using Banner and tries a sample of the formula on bloodthirsty bounty killer Emil Blonsky (Roth).
After a forced return to the States, Banner seeks help from his sweetheart Elizabeth Ross (Tyler) who unlike others believes inside the Hulk lies a human conscience and is constantly threatened by General Ross and Blonsky who becomes a creature known as the Abomination.
With an action setpiece around every corner, director Leterrier's film is everything a summer blockbuster should be, but definitely not everything a good film should amount to.
Even when he tries to remove every trace of character development his cast makes this a difficult feat.
Norton, buff but with a geeky, longing attitude, gives Banner a little bit extra despite the fact that the plot insists we should disregard this soulsearch and demand more explosions.
Hulk has never been a superhero in the full sense of the word because Banner wants to get rid of his powers and everyone else fears him.
He has a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde dynamic which forces a protrait of him to be an internal battle, while Leterrier doesn't care for any of this, Norton gets away with a few moments of great acting, especially in his scenes with the lovely, but dull, Tyler who bats her eyelashes and screams "no!" more often than she has something important to do.
When the film puts their relationship as the epitome of chaste love, Norton gives it a twist during a moment where Bruce can't take his hands off Betty, but his heartbeat starts increasing forcing him to stop.
As many size jokes and "Gamma ray poisoning as birth control" comments as you can come up with, the truth is that this is the only moment in the film where you will feel a connection to these people, the rest of the time they're being treated like Ann Darrow and King-Kong at Skull Island.
Roth and Hurt have delicious star turns as the villains. Roth as the maniac, pure evil one and Hurt as the villain with a chance to undo his wrongs.
But in the end what makes this film bearable is the recent interrelationships take on movies mastered by Marvel Studio, it has to be said that this film ends up being stolen by someone who isn't even billed among the cast, but without who this Hulk would've had nothing really incredible.
It seems we are coming to a completely new era of filmmaking in which for once people will feel the need to return to theaters and live the film experience as it was meant to be lived.
Marvel is starting, but who knows how long will it be before this take is used with different genres and styles?
The idea that a movie, despite its quality as cinema, is able to ellicit gasps and real excitement from audiences comes off as a double edged sword; will it make people think less or will it inspire in them a spirit that demands real quality?
Never before had a film been saved so much by its sense of possibility.

1 comment:

patrick said...

this new Incredible Hulk is a lot more fun than the first one with Eric Bana; plus Ed Norton is in his element, doing the "split personality" role