Thursday, June 12, 2008

THE INCREDIBLE HULK - yet another disappointing summer blockbuster

You wouldn't like me when I'm angryI've been known to read a comic or two in my time but I never cared much for HULK. The story was just too thin: repressed scientist's arrogance backfires when his own gamma bomb explodes, irradiates him, turning him into his suppressed alter-ego - a seething, angry giant. I mean, that's pretty much it. Yes, there's a weak romance with fellow scientist Betty Ross, and yes, the Hulk is hunted down by her father General Ross, and yes there's an even more fucked up mutant enemy, The Abomination........But Hulk never had the psychological complexity of Batman or the sheer exuberant fun of Tony Stark.

Zak Penn and Ed Norton's script for the new HULK feature shoots itself in the foot by collapsing the whole origin story into the opening credits. What this means is that all we have left for the two hour run-time is the following.....

Bruce Banner hides out in Brazil.

Bruce Banner gets chased by US military: turns into Hulk.

Bruce Banner hides out in Culver City.

Bruce Banner gets chased by US military: turns into Hulk.

Bruce Banner hides out in New York City.

Bruce Banner gets chased by US military: turns into Hulk.

Bruce Banner hides out in Canada.........

This is not very interesting. It's especially not interesting because the ludicrously over-worked CGI Hulk looks nothing like Ed Norton. So, even though Norton gives a sympathetic turn as Banner, I didn't care what happened to him as Hulk. Contrast this with Peter Jackson's KING KONG. Thanks to deft motion capture and some lovely scenes between Kong and Ann Darrow I really cared when Kong was being attacked by the military.

But let's end on a positive note. This movie is not a complete failure. Tim Roth chews up the scenery and actually has some fun as Hulk's enemy, Emile Blonsky. Louis Leterrier puts in some stunning aerial photography of the Brazilian favelas and he certainly knows better than Jon Favreau how to direct an action scene. And the movie nicely sets us up for an AVENGERS movie, wherein the dull mediocrity of THE INCREDIBLE HULK will hopefully be leavened by the far from perfect but still much more entertaining spirit of IRON MAN.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK opens this weekend in the UK, the US, Australia, Greece, Hungary, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Brazil, Estonia, Finland, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Turkey. It opens next weekend in Egypt, Italy, Argentina, the Netehrlands, Iceland and Spain. It opens on June 26th in Belgium and Denmark; on July 3rd in Israel; on July 10th in Germany; on July 23rd in France and on August 1st in Japan.

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