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The Incredible Hulk (2008)

| August 31, 2008 | 0 Comments

Maybe its me. Somehow I find Bruce Banner infinitely more interesting than The Hulk. I know, I know, you can’t have one without the other, but I’ve seen two Hulk movies now and I have arrived at the conclusion that this is a mythology that – like its hero – has two sides. One has Bruce trying to find a method by which he can control his metabolism in order to stop himself from turning into a 12-foot giant behemoth with an anger management problem. The other has Hulk throwing cars around and smashing walls.

The previous movie, Hulk by Ang Lee, dealt with the former. That horribly underrated film shocked me by dealing with Bruce on his own terms and trying to explore the troubled spirit inside him. It dealt with Bruce’s past, most especially he troubled relationship with his father. Sadly, it was devalued and accused of being too slow and took talky. This new film, The Incredible Hulk, devalues the character and affords him the minimum of down time to search for a method to get rid of his affliction. The rest of the time, he turns into his alter-ego and smashes, tanks, walls, glass, cars, pavement and my ear drums.

The story begins with a step in the right direction, with Bruce (Edward Norton) working in a bottling plant in South America while spending his off hours on his laptop talking to a scientist named Mr. Blue (Tim Blake Nelson) who is helping him find a cure. Meanwhile the government is scouring the earth looking for him. It turns out that he was part of an experiment to create a genetically enhanced super soldier – aren’t they always? The search is led by the mustachioed General Ross (William Hurt) who is the father of Bruce’s girlfriend Betty (Liv Tyler). WOW! I’d love to be a fly on the wall at their house for Thanksgiving.

Ross’ search team includes a former member of The Royal Army, a scraggly little foot-soldier named Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth). Blonsky takes a personal interest in hunting down Banner when he is injected with a hormone that eventually turns him into a creature known as Abomination. The beast doesn’t show up until the third act but he isn’t much to see, he’s just like Hulk except he has grayish skin and spines down his back. This movie doesn’t have time for details like that. The entire second half of the movie is given over to Hulk running from The Army while smashing things real good. Then Abomination comes on the screen and we are treated to a climactic battle between two unconvincing looking CGI creatures.

I am much more interested in the science at work here. I know that in a smash-and-bash action movie and the hard science is simply connective tissue that pulls together the action scenes, but I would be interested in knowing how a man’s level of accelerated blood pressure causes a metamorphoses that gives him super strength and the body of Mr. Universe? What makes him green? How is he able to take so many bullets without bleeding? Is his skin bulletproof? What causes Banner to grow from a 6 feet to 12 feet? What is the time between his fits of rage and when he becomes Hulk? What is the downtime before he changes back? Why am I having to ask questions that the movie should be answering?


About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.