The Incredible Hulk

Louis Leterrier’s new version of Marvel’s comic book hero “Hulk” is almost incredible indeed. I wouldn’t go as far to say that it’s vastly superior to Ang Lee’s 2003 film, but it sure is different, and in a positive way. Leterrier clearly presses for more action in “The Incredible Hulk,” and although the plot remains rather simplistic throughout, it’s all a whole lot of fun to watch. It seems like Marvel is hitting all the right notes this summer.

After a short but quite awesome recap of what really happened to Bruce Banner (Edward Norton), the film dives straight into the action. Bruce is now hiding out in a small town in Brazil, where he spends his days trying to control his anger while simultaneously looking for a cure for his big problem. But before he knows it, Gen. Ross (William Hurt) and the U.S. Army manage to track him down, still claiming his body is property of the government.

This results in the movie’s first big action sequence, which definitely delivers the goods. Leterrier’s capability to direct fast-paced, exciting scenes comes to light early on, and the level of entertainment skyrockets in a matter of minutes. This is also the first time we get a good glimpse at the green beast, which looks pretty good on the big screen. Overall, I have to admit the filmmakers did a more than decent job on the CGI.

Now on the run again, Bruce travels back to the U.S. to pay a visit to Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), the love of his life. The Army, however, doesn’t appreciate his return to civilization, and before Bruce gets a chance to finally put an end to his curse, an over-motivated special agent (Tim Roth) transforms into the powerful Abomination, Hulk’s fiercest enemy yet.

And there you have it. It’s a rather simple story when you really think about it, but Leterrier and screenwriter Zak Penn (and Edward Norton, I guess) pumped enough thrilling moments into the movie to keep it interesting enough for almost two hours. “The Incredible Hulk” is clearly more action-packed than Lee’s film, although it may not achieve the same level of character development. That said, there’s still enough for us to sympathize with Bruce.

Most of what you get to see in this film is Hulk battling the Army’s high-tech arsenal, and although this may sound rather boring at first, it’s not. There’s eye candy galore in movie, and that’s exactly what makes it all so fun to watch. Of course there’s also the ultimate showdown against the Abomination in Manhattan, which quite simply looks spectacular. Besides the first “Transporter,” Leterrier hasn’t done anything worth mentioning, but his sleek direction here is undoubtedly impressive.

Edward Norton is just the right guy for the role of Bruce Banner, and he definitely injects his character with enough energy. I also think he shares great chemistry with the fabulous Liv Tyler, who not only looks good but also brings along enough emotion as Betty Ross. The love story between the two works flawlessly. There, I said it. Tim Roth delivers an excellent performance as the film’s main villain, fueling his character with a convincing dose of aggressiveness and hate.

Although all the action makes it hard to focus on anything else in the film, be sure to watch out for some great cameos, including Stan Lee and Lou Ferrigno, who contribute to the film’s comedic touch. Overall, “The Incredible Hulk” works. It’s definitely good enough to both lure fans back to theaters and win over new adherents. And just like “Iron Man,” it also left me wanting to see more. Now that’s a good sign.

Review by Franck Tabouring