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"LEAVE ME ALONE!"
on February 22, 2014
In 2003, Ang Lee directed a brooding, inward-looking movie about the Incredible Hulk... and it bombed at the box office as badly as it did with fans.
So there was much rejoicing when the franchise got rebooted five years later with "The Incredible Hulk." This is what a movie about a giant green rage-monster should be -- a lean, muscular action movie with a thread of bittersweet romance, and solid performances by William Hurt, Edward Norton and Liv Tyler.
A few years ago, Bruce Banner was exposed to gamma radiation in a failed military experiment, which turned him into a giant green berserker. Ever since then, the cruel General Ross (Hurt) has been mercilessly pursuing him, so they can create giant green soldiers.
And after a few years hiding in Brazil, Banner is finally found by the military... only to end up on the run after he Hulks his way out of the confrontation. He may be able to get a cure, but only if he gets the original data from the experiment, which means sneaking back into the US to see his ex-girlfriend Betty (Tyler). Betty is also Ross's daughter. Awkward.
And after the military attacks him again, Banner ends up hulking out, then goes on the run with Betty to find a cure. But he doesn't know that Ross has taken special measures to capture him, by dosing elite soldier Neil Blonsky (Tim Roth) with a supersoldier serum -- which unleashes a monster far worse than the Hulk.
"The Incredible Hulk" gave audiences everything that Ang Lee's movie was missing. It has pretty much everything you can ask from a movie about a giant green id-monster -- lots of explosions, gunfire, chases, and a core story about a man whose life is destroyed by the ambitious people who want to use the Hulk's power.
And the movie lopes along at a fast pace, slowing down for the occasional romantic scene when Betty and Bruce are alone. There are some funny moments ("Don't make me... hungry!"), but the overall mood is a somber one -- you're always aware of danger, and how much Bruce has lost through no fault of his own.
The one problem I have with this movie? Edward Norton. Don't get me wrong, his performance is absolutely stellar, and his rewrites of the script made the movie even better. But he doesn't quite work as the quiet, shy nerd -- he can't turn off the wiry intensity that he always exudes.
But the other actors are spot on -- Hurt as a cold, sociopathic soldier who doesn't care who dies as long as he gets the Hulk, Tyler as the loving supportive Betty who can soothe the savage beast, and Roth as a battle-happy soldier whose obsession with fighting turns him into a monster.
"The Incredible Hulk" is exactly what you'd want from a Hulk movie -- romance, tragedy, and Hulk smashing. A fun popcorn movie with some darker edges.