‘The Incredible Hulk’ goes back to basics | VailDaily.com

‘The Incredible Hulk’ goes back to basics

Charlie Owen
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” As a kid I loved watching “The Incredible Hulk” television series because I always knew what was going to happen.

While on the run from authorities and trying to find a cure that would stop him from becoming the Hulk, Bruce Banner (then played by Bill Bixby) got beat up by somebody every episode.

The camera would close up on Banner’s eyes and that eerie synthesizer music would begin to play, then his clothing and shoes would burst at the seams, revealing a green creature ready to kick some serious ass. When you’re six years old, that’s pretty cool.

Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk film tried to turn a classic comic book character into high art. Big mistake. Lee removed all familiarity from the character, driving away a generation raised on Hulk TV and comic books.

Thankfully director Louis Leterrier (“The Transporter,” “Unleashed”) goes back to basics in this version of “The Incredible Hulk,” which is more a tribute to the ’80s television show and various storylines from the Marvel Comics franchise than the 2003 film.

Banner (now played by Edward Norton) is still on the run and still trying to find a cure for his “problem” with a little help from his true love Betty Ross (Liv Tyler). In hot pursuit of Banner is Gen. Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt), Betty’s dad and the man in charge of capturing the Hulk, mostly for his own devious ends.

Leterrier dispenses with Banner’s inner turmoil and goes straight for the jugular. This Hulk smashes cars, forktrucks, helicopters, entire buildings and city blocks. In essence, this is what the Hulk should be; a giant, unthinking, berserk monster driven by primal urges to protect what he loves and destroy what he hates.

And this time he’s given a worthy adversary in the Abomination (Tim Roth), a deranged Army soldier who purposely exposes his body to the same harmful radiation that turned Banner into the Hulk.

His initial purpose is to stop the rampaging green giant, but that whole “absolute power corrupts absolutely” idiom comes into play when Roth instead becomes a true monster with powers equal to the Hulk’s, no conscious or heart and a will to kill and destroy everything in sight. The fight scenes between these two are huge, loud and destructive.

The script is good if not minimal, but action drives this movie, not character. That aside, the acting is still very well done, never a hint of cheese or cornyness as is so often found in comic-book-based cinema. The CGI, while still not wholly realistic is better than the 2003 version. Satisfying on every level, “The Incredible Hulk” is what summer movie entertainment is all about.

High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.

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