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INCREDIBLE HULK, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Scientist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) is desperately hunting for a cure to the gamma radiation that poisoned his cells, unleashing the force of rage within him: The Hulk. Banner has been living in the shadows, cut off from the woman he loves, Dr. Elizabeth "Betty" Ross (Liv Tyler), living as a fugitive to avoid the obsessive pursuit of his nemesis, General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt). But he knows that a military machine seeking to capture him and brutally exploit his power is always only a few steps behind. As all three grapple with the secrets that led to The Hulk's creation, they are confronted with a vicious new adversary, The Abomination (Tim Roth), a monstrosity whose destructive strength exceeds even The Hulk's own.

Review by Louise Keller:
While Ang Lee's Hulk created a soulful tragic character trapped in a monster's body, Louis Leterrier's sequel finds it hard to marry the human story with the barrage of special effects. The result is a mish-mash of comic-book drama coupled with video-game graphics. I don't mean to take away from the strong casting of Edward Norton as the tortured Bruce Banner, Liv Tyler as his love interest and William Hurt as her bombastic General of a father, but Norton must take some of the responsibility for the script he and Zak Penn have penned, being devoid of involvement. Additionally, the visual effects of Banner in his guise as the hulk (which is strangely less green) totally distanced me from the character and were a huge disappointment.

The story starts well enough with Norton's Banner a recluse in Portugal, working on a production line and trying to find a remedy in his spare time. After a thrilling chase across the rooftops, everything is on track until Bruce gets angry. The transition to Hulk immediately takes us out of the story and continues to do so with the added element of Tim Roth's monstrous creature that looks like a cross between a prehistoric creature and freak-hunchback. In what should be the climactic scenes, their battles are little more than video-game fodder.

Storytelling effectively goes out the window as tanks are upturned, helicopters explode and surreal images of digital figures battling it out, aided by a jittery camera. The Incredible Hulk gets about in leaps and bounds - a bit like Spiderman, but less elegantly, and all we are left with is a promise of something better next time, as the enigmatic (uncredited) Robert Downey Jnr makes a welcome cameo appearance.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
If only it didn't take itself so seriously, pretending to be a movie for adults, The Incredible Hulk might have worked in its own genre: the comic book movie. It probably still works for the young male audiences who will repay the investors, but people like me can't help but feel it's a missed opportunity. Once again, the Bad Military, personified by General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt), wants to get hold of the weird stuff created in a scientific experiment and harness it as a nasty weapon. Considering the amount of destruction wreaked on New York in chasing the Hulk, they don't seem to need any more lethal weaponry.

But that aside, the military do look foolish popping their pistols and even machine guns at the Hulk when it's quite obvious bullets don't hurt him/it. Nor do exploding armoured personnel carriers or any other solid object; he survives a fireball of a n army truck hurtling at him, for goodness sake. So is it ironic humour when the Hulk, sharing a cave with Betty Ross his love interest when he's Bruce, bumps his head on the rock roof and says 'ouch' (or word to that effect in Hulk-speak). Or is it one of the many (and silly) internal inconsistencies?

So many pitfalls, so easily fallen into, from the over-earnest score (suitable sometimes for a romantic drama) to the trite dialogue and a screenplay that has as its climax a violent confrontation between two males on Hulkoids. Not even the fine work of an army of special effects artists can rescue the film from tedium, and not even the stellar A list cast can convince me that The Incredible Hulk is a film of lasting value.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 2
Mixed: 0

INCREDIBLE HULK, THE (M)
(US, 2008)

CAST: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, William Hurt, Tim Roth, Ty Burrell, Tim Blake Nelson

PRODUCER: Avi Arad, Gale Anne Hurd, Kevin Fiege

DIRECTOR: Louise Leterrier

SCRIPT: Zak Penn (characters by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Menzies jr

EDITOR: John Wright, Rick Shaine, Vincent Tabaillon

MUSIC: Craig Armstrong

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Kirk M. Petrucelli

OTHER: Kurt Williams - Visual Effects supervisor

RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 12, 2008







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