Cinema review: The Incredible Hulk

June 29 2008 at 9:35 am (Cinema reviews)

Nobody seemed to like Ang Lee’s 2003 big screen outing for the big green anger machine so a sequel of sorts could have gone one of two ways: it could have been an improvement which would, of course have been easy, or it could have been more of the same. Thankfully, it is a better film but the improvements are so slight as to still make it a disappointment.

More a ‘reboot’ than a sequel proper, this film attempts to rewrite the Bruce Banner story. The back story is dealt with during the credits sequence a la Spider-man 2, throwing us straight into the action. Banner (Edward Norton) is hiding out in a slum in Rio trying to find a cure for his unique little, er, condition until General Ross (William Hurt) and his cronies track him down. There’s running and then Banner goes all big and green and throws his toys (and a forklift truck) out of the pram.

Then there’s more running, more talking, more going all big and green. The film goes through the motions with few surprises – once you’ve seen Bruce Hulk out once you’ve seen it a hundred times. It’s a pretty plodding affair – even the set pieces are tedious with the exception of a fairly decent scene at a college campus. The performances are OK except for Liv Tyler whose Betty Ross is a snivelling mess for much of the film.

So it’s a relief to see something a bit different thrown into the mix, namely Tim Roth’s gung ho soldier Emil Blonsky, so obsessed with Banner’s power that he wants to get him some of that. You know where this is headed – the whole film has been leading up to the big CGI smackdown finale.

But surprise surprise, the CGI is simply not up to snuff. One scene about half way through looks like it was lifted from Peter Jackson’s King Kong before the effects were finished. The cartoonish crescendo is simply ludicrous. An overreliance on slow-mo only serves to show how bad the CGI is. Emil Blonsky’s grotesque transformation into The Abomination is impressive but the fight between the two tantrum throwing giants is forgettable at best. In a film such as this when the effects are so important, why should we accept it when they are so bad?

What Louis Leterrier’s valiant but flawed effort proves is that sadly this iconic character doesn’t really work on the big screen. If Ang Lee can’t handle it, nobody else should even bother trying.
Rating: 2/5

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