Bringing Marvel's Hulk to the big screen is a challenging undertaking. For one thing, the idea of the Hulk is just funny: when a guy loses his temper he morphs into a giant green monster who smashes things. Plus, that green monster in ripped-up pants is just cartoonish, any way you slice it. You can always update Iron Man's suit with sleeker corners and more abilities or give Batman cooler gadgets, but how do you make a green monster-man something today's audience will take seriously?
So, given these obstacles, and the fact that Ang Lee did everyone a favor by demonstrating what not to do if you want the fanboys to show up, the most recent incarnation of The Incredible Hulk is pretty much a success. All things considered, the CGI looks great, there is plenty of action to keep hearts pounding, and Ed Norton and Liv Tyler turn in wonderful performances with the lines they have. That said, it's no Iron Man and I'm about 99.9% sure once The Dark Knight hits theaters we may all forget this movie even happened.
To find out why this Incredible Hulk will be remembered as the superhero movie that gave us something to do between Iron Man and Dark Knight,
First of all, it's worth the ticket price alone to see Ed Norton with this much screen time. Despite the fact that he isn't given much material to work with and not a minute is spent on character development, he still manages to convey the emotional toll that spontaneous, out-of-control monster transformation can take on a person. I was also pleasantly surprised by the chemistry Norton and Tyler have together.
Taking a cue from the movie itself, I'm not going to waste time on plot, and you just kind of accept certain things about each of the characters. For example, Norton's Bruce Banner is very concerned with the weapons General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (played by a superbly chilly William Hurt) will create with the science behind whatever turns Bruce into the Hulk. I'm not sure where Bruce's initial concern comes from, nor do I understand what motivates Thunderbolt's obsession. But right when this started to bother me, the movie kicked into high gear with lots of action sequences and scary CGI and I forgot what I was puzzling over before.
It's in this way that the pendulum swings just a bit too far in the other direction from Lee's film. Sure, it can be boring to spend too much time building up the sad events that lead to the Hulk's creation. But when you nearly banish all dialogue and scenes that include a little humanity, you end up with a fun ride that lacks a heart (despite the cast's best efforts to inject one). So, while I laughed (it has some genuinely witty moments) and clung to my chair (Poor Hulk! Stop shooting at him!) I didn't leave with the emotional connection I had with Iron Man.
In any other year a B+ superhero movie would be something to get excited about. But 2008 is shaping up to be the summer of the superhero — and everyone else is bringing their A-game.
To see the trailer and more clips from The Incredible Hulk, visit movies.iVillage.com