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STUDIO: Universal
MSRP: $34.95
RATED:
PG-13
RUNNING TIME: 116 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • Alternate Opening
  • The Making of THE INCREDIBLE HULK: An in-depth look at the making of the blockbuster film, featuring interviews with Edward Norton, director Louis Leterrier, and producers Avi Arad, Kevin Feige and Gale Anne Hurd and the entire cast and crew. The documentary covers the film’s innovative take on the character, look and storyline, as well as the casting process, production and profile of director Louis Leterrier.
  • Becoming The Hulk: This featurette focuses on Edward Norton’s approach to the iconic role and the incredible visual effects employed by award®-winning studio Rhythm & Hues to create the character on screen.
  • Becoming The Abomination: From the first motion-capture session to the visual effects at Rhythm & Hues, viewers go behind the scenes with actor Tim Roth and watch as he transforms both his mind and body into the super villain known as The Abomination.
  • Anatomy of a Hulk Out: Behind-the-scenes looks at three of the movie’s most exciting action sequences:
  • Hulking Out in the Bottling Plant – Go inside the first action sequence of the film where both viewers and the army are given a glimpse of the Hulk to come.
  • Hulking Out on Campus – A behind-the-scenes look at the creation of a Hulk action sequence, featuring airplanes, guns, and even a sound machine.
  • Hulking Out in Harlem – From pre-visualization animatics to visual effects, this featurette shows how filmmakers created one of the largest action sequences in Marvel film history.
  • From Comic Book to Screen: See the incredible comic books come to life courtesy of narration, sound effects and “living” panels of action.
  • Feature Commentary With Director Louis Leterrier And Cast
  • Digital Copy of THE INCREDIBLE HULK: Compatible with PC, Mac or iPod.
  • Deleted Scenes

The Pitch

The Hulk is on the run until he isn’t. Then he’s kicking ass front and center.

The Humans

Cast: Edward Norton. Tim Roth. William Hurt. Liv Tyler. Tim Blake Nelson. Ty Burrell.

Director: Louis Letterier.

Writers: Zak Penn. Edward Norton.

The Nutshell

After Ang Lee’s attempt at the character wasn’t wholly successful, Marvel and its film partners try again with a leaner attempt geared more towards the mainstream with mostly successful results, though not enough box office to propel the film past the original in the eyes of the bean counters.



The Lowdown

As an apologist for Ang Lee’s perfectly acceptable previous Hulk film, I only hoped that Louis Letterier’s  version wouldn’t completely undo the work that was good about the Eric Bana vehicle because while the film lacked in the emotional resonance department there were some truly amazing bits of action and comic book storytelling too good to ignore. I didn’t exactly love the idea of remaking the television show because the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno classic was fun but definitely a product of a bygone era, but Letterier’s version is a light and fun romp that at times is quite extraordinary. Unfortunately it gets bogged down in a mishmash of CGI in its third act that threatens to topple the whole thing.



After a quick montage recap of his origin story, we meet Bruce Banner/David Banner/Hulk Banner (portrayed here by Edward Norton and binary code) in Rio de Janiero where he learns Portugese from television shows and works as the unassuming gringo at a bottling factory far away from prying eyes and bottling rivals Cindy Williams & Penny Marshall.  He maintains a low profile, keeping his anger in check as best he can while trying to find a cure for his ailment. He’s a scientist you see, brilliant in his vision but egotistically flawed as he tried his gamma ray product on himself. It’s his blessing and his curse. All the while, trying to follow his tracks is his former boss, former father of his girlfriend, and ruthless military man Thunderbolt Ross (portrayed here by William Hurt and a fantastic bushy mustache). Ross means well, for his country must be protected, but his lack of regard for collateral damage needs an adjustment. His latest tool in obtaining his exported green powerhouse is Emil Blonsky (Gary Oldman drinking buddy Tim Roth), a soldier who isn’t afraid to modify the rules of engagement to suit his needs.




The game is afoot when a little Hulkblood™ makes its way into Stan Lee’s soda pop and the troops are sent to tranquilize and capture their emerald quarry, led by Blonsky. As is typically the case when men with guns try and kick the ass of irradiated scientists, things go awry and the big green man makes his first appearance. It’s a terrific chase sequence that showcases Letterier’s camera cunning as well as an example of how the “less is more” approach to big monster action works. Instead of showing off the monster, it is revealed in small bursts and as a result the sequence is the best conceived, shot, and edited one in the film.



Having been found out, Banner goes back to America where his former love Dr. Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) as well as his email buddy Dr. Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson) in their own separate ways may or may not hold the key to curing him. Since this isn’t Lorenzo’s Oil, the film is less about medicinal discoveries and more about large beefy fellows smashing things and grunting with confused and manic glee. The hunt for a cure coupled with Banner’s rekindled relationship with his girl is enough to pass the time between hulk sequences but the film is defined by the destruction of property and there are a handful of sequences which are sufficient at entertaining as well as selling action figure playsets.

Sadly, as was the case with Iron Man (a gentleman’s review) the best action sequences occur in the middle of the film rather than the end. The college campus attack where Mr. Hulk rips out of Mr. Norton is quite exciting, made better and funnier by the presence of Roth/Blonsky, who by that time in the story has started taking Thunderbolt Ross’s super soldier serum to even the odds.

There’s something charming about watching a giant green beast kick a man across town.



Though there’s no sequence in the film that competes with Ang Lee’s
desert sequence, Letterier and his team of effects artists and stuntmen
do a solid job of delivering a solid 2nd tier Marvel superhero with
good pacing, some nice quieter moments, and much more actual
personality than the first Hulk movie. Sadly, by turning Blonsky into
the Abomination for the film’s climax we’re forced to watch two CGI
(well, mo-cap as well) characters duking it out with very little to
cling to except digital destruction. It’s too much and too little at
the same time. Each time the Abomination talks it’s less like a
legitimate genre movie and more like a pro-wrestling match, which may
be good for the more base audience members but it rings hollow to
people who appreciate a standard of quality.



Even with the weak climax, The Incredible Hulk is still a fun time at
the movies and Letterier and Norton (whatever creative issues that
transpired with the studio notwithstanding) deliver a nice middle of
the road summer movie. Luckily, the character doesn’t need as much
nuance as many other superhero characters, instead being defined by how
well the spectacle comes off. It’s a nice effort, one that could have
been made better by a little more emphasis on the mythology and
relationship between science and military but as an adaptation of a fun
if not cheesy television show, it’s a success. Letterier’s step from
the Transporter sized films to the larger scale is a successful one.

The Package




This is a fantastic DVD collection. One of the better ones in recent memory and lifted surprisingly high by a terrific commentary track with Leterrier and Roth. I’ve never known Roth to be as conversational and wide-eyed to the big budget movie process, so it’s a breath of fresh air to hear him discuss the project and his process in such a light manner. It really adds to my already considerable respect for the man and Leterrier is a really good host and totally up to the task. His skill with cameras and kinetic style translates to the way he discusses filmmaking and he seems enthusiastic and undaunted by the task laid before him. I can see him becoming quite a commodity if he continues to balance his skills and commerce well.

The alternate opening (the whole Captain America cameo stuff is truly silly and lost on me if it’s even actually there) is kind of iconic, though sort of illogical. It’s well-shot and cool, but the idea of this brilliant guy trekking all the way out to the edge of the world to shoot himself is silly. It’d had been better, and a good precursor to the climax’s “helicopter drop” if Banner had tried to kill himself by plunging into the ice only to transform after he hit. That way, he learns a little bit about his curse as well as create a nice bookend with the end of the film. As it stands, it’s mostly expendable.

Some of the other scenes, most of them actually, should have stayed in the final cut of the movie. There’s a lot of nice character bits here and there and if someone other than Edward Norton was starring it may not have mattered, but the guy is typically as reliable an actor as there is. More wouldn’t have hurt. Plus, the film feels somewhat threadbare in its current state and a little meat on its bones gives it a little more impact.

The “making of” stuff is also quite strong, especially when revealing how well Leterrier manages a set and creates action or showcasing just how much of a committment Roth and Norton made to their characters, going as far as to perform all of their Hulk and Abomination scenes as well. Oftentimes in the odd costumes of motion capture or the cutting edge process where their faces were covered in paint and rendered in eerily accurate 3-D.

It’s a really effective package and I found myself as impressed with the features as the film itself, a rarity in this day and age where we’ve become somewhat jaded with the bountiful “behidn the scenes” material forced on us.

Lastly, the digital copy is a great bonus as I oftentimes like to have something spinning on my IPOD for the kid to watch and though the material sometimes strains the limits of what a kid ought to see, it’s a nice father/daughter pairing for the mobile set.

8.0 out of 10