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The Incredible Hulk (2008)

by on 2013/05/30

Incredible Hulk (2008)

“Now what possibly could I have done to deserve such aggression?”

* * * *

I like this movie. A lot.

Some lustre may have been lost, as I’ve seen it four times now, but it made me enough of a fan to have felt a bit wary leading up to The Avengers.

I don’t dislike Mark Ruffalo’s take. It’s simply until we saw him succeed, I feared what we’d lost in Ed Norton.

Like The Incredible Hulk feature itself, Norton is great as Bruce Banner: slimmer, slighter, and controlled, but with a hint of wild energy.

In this story – a “reboot” which oddly doesn’t preclude everything in the prior (Ang Lee) Hulk – Banner is eking out an existence in Brazil. He works a blue collar factory job and studies meditation to suppress his inner goliath.

In his spare time he also tries in vain to rid himself of his Hulk side permanently. He consults with the mysterious “Mr Blue” yet can only do so much remotely. Eventually he’ll have to return home. And when he does so, General Ross (William Hurt) will be waiting for him. Meanwhile, Ross enlists Blonsky (Tim Roth), an aging mercenary anxious to keep fighting — anyone or anything — and gives him the Super Soldier treatment which created Captain America.

A whole lot of digital combat scenes ensue.

Now, it’s precisely in its second-half visuals that this Hulk is most vulnerable. Blonsky’s transformation is sudden and rough. The dolly pulls are distractingly cliche. Compositing is too obvious sometimes. And nothing about the Toronto core convinces me I’m seeing New York.

However, when I scour my thoughts for criticisms, these few are the worst I can find. By far the majority of comments I have are of things I found cool or pleasing: the opening montage, the pinging of heart rate monitors, the visual representation of surfing the net, a piano riff worked into the score, the way the Hulk is held back and kept in shadows, a reference to SHIELD, the brilliant cameos . . . and lots of familiar landmarks around my old school: the Bookstore, Con Hall, Hart House, Robarts Library, Sid Smith, and University College.

(That’s just me being a Torontonian; I still enjoyed it notwithstanding the locations.)

More than anything, it reminded me of a guilty-pleasure game, Prototype, with a solid story, a lot of nice touches, and an arc I didn’t want to abandon. While The Avengers was great – even better than The Incredible Hulk overall – it doesn’t make this tale of the Emerald Avenger any less of a gem.

* * * *

Rated PG (Canada) / PG13 (United States)

113 minutes

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