Opening 10 Jul 2008
The Incredible Hulk from Marvel Studios picks up where Hulk left off. Scientist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton), hiding from his nemesis General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt) in a remote corner of the world, attempts to find an antidote for his gamma poisoning with cyberspace help from “Mr. Blue.” Banner works to control his emotional stress, knowing that is what causes his transformation into a gargantuan green monster.
A bizarre accident leads Ross to Banner’s location; Ross sends a team of military elite led by Russian-born British special operations officer Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth). Meanwhile Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), the woman Banner loves, has formed a new life and a relationship with psychiatrist Leonard Samson (Ty Burrell), who eventually unwittingly aids the obsessed General.
The aging Blonsky, wanting revenge, convinces Ross that injecting him with some of the stored Banner gamma formula will help them catch Banner. Returning to the United States, Banner locates "Mr. Blue"/Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson) and the possible antidote, only to be thwarted by Blonsky and team. Salivating for more power, Blonsky forces Sterns to inject him with Banner’s gamma treatment, resulting in his transmutation into the grotesque Abomination whose force exceeds the Hulk’s. Yet, who else can stop the Abomination?
Screenwriter Zak Penn with rewrites from Edward Norton (the Writers Guild of America decided Penn alone should receive credit) both wanted the sequel to echo the comics and the television series. But they sacrifice story for action, and that is the Hulk’s real nemesis. Ang Lee’s Hulk (2003) could have been tighter, but instead of relying on visual effects to hold our interest, Lee’s characters had complex personalities as they struggled within ill-fated relationships. The Incredible Hulk’s story is lackluster, with mundane dialogue that contributes little toward fleshing out the characters.
Under Louis Leterrier’s fledging direction, the characters are one-dimensional: Tyler simpers, Norton limps along, Hurt has his moments and Roth’s superb ability to portray nasty-to-the-nth-degree never materializes. Neither Leterrier nor the three editors kept an eye on continuity, so expect to see disconnects.
Despite itself The Incredible Hulk is entertaining, especially if you like action that goes on and on, sprinkled with some chuckles, and in one scene Banner metamorphosing into the Hulk is first-rate. Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) makes a cameo appearance and informs the inebriated General, “What if I tell you we’re pulling together a team”, to which Ross replies, “Who’s we”? If Marvel Studios does not pull together an exceptional scriptwriter(s)/director team, even the Iron Man will not be able to save the Hulk. (Marinell Haegelin)