Early Incredible Hulk review by Movie-Moron spy 'Marwood'.
The Incredible Hulk is a massive movie. There's plenty big about it, and not just the Green Giant himself. The size and force of it completely blows Ang Lee's Hulk out of the water (in fact, it compresses the previous film's plot into a bitesize credit sequence in its big green fist). The opening shot pours over Brazilian slums in an incredible orgy for the eyes, the shanty buildings filling the screen, and it just feels, looks, sounds better - sexier. Faster. Bigger.
And it's solid, where Lee's version stumbled and didn't connect. Can't fault the plot: Bruce Banner is on the run, wanted for being essentially a military weapon on legs with a - quite brilliant - mind of its own, searching for a cure to his transformation/rage problem. Cue the interference of Emil Blonsky (teeth-grindingly evil Tim Roth), at the direction of General Ross, the man who instigated Banner's research program. The first half zips along like your Fugitives, your Jason Bournes, cool and clever and barely stopping for breath. It all goes up to eleven as the pieces drop, with Emil Blonsky getting a taste for the hulkish and convincing a turncost scientist (Tim Blake Nelson, excellent as ever) to give him Maximum Juice, thus becoming The Abomination (a thing bigger than the Hulk, who curiously can talk perfectly normally but also goes trouserless and has no discernible genitalia).
Ed Norton plays it as Tobey Maguire did in the first Spiderman; he's just a cipher for the character. He's perfectly balanced, docile - to the extent that you can't quite believe that the Hulk comes from within him. In fact, he's even a little blank. Looking at him, you could be looking at anyone - it works in the beginning, when he's trying to blend in and be unseen, but come the emotional climax I was hankering for a bit more emotion than the Hulk roar.
Liv Tyler, glasses or not, is simply looking weird these days. Has she had work done? Those lips! She spends the film making duck faces and occasionally looking exactly like Audrey Tatou. She's sympathetic, sparky and likeable, but has none of the fire of a Mary Jane or weary wit of a Pepper Potts. Shame, because she keeps playing these floaty characters. I'd like to see her really act in something.
And also looking weird is the CGI. It's not bad, it's just really, really there. In a summer of action adventures with real gravity - and we can all agree that the best thing about Indy was the live action stunts - the great big shiny, knobbly, ripped and wrinkled Hulk looks like Shrek. The best parts in the film are the transformations we don't see. Norton's face disappearing into a cloud of smoke behind glass, his eyes lighting up green, before the figure of the Hulk bursts through. Fantastic. And when The Abomination is created, we see it break out of a building from the point of view of the soldiers and it's all the better for the shaky camera and occasional glimpses of something so horrific it would drive you mad if you saw it in the street. The climactic battle is tiring to watch; two great big things finding ever-better ways to bash each other about, and we're forced right into their mouths almost.
This film takes itself relatively seriously (but for a couple of cameos and a few light laughs to break things up once they ran out of CGI money), and it's a pretty decent superhero flick. I may be damning it with faint praise, here, but I'm still most excited about a certain cameo right at the very end, and what it means for the future of the franchise... and when the best thing about a film is the last minute, isn't there something wrong with the other 113?Verdict: B
Go see it with your friends if you like watching masonry getting destroyed, but see Iron Man first. You'll thank me.
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