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The Incredible Hulk

Movie title: The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Spoilers ahead: No

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There is a sadness in my heart. An empty void remains as I contemplate the way things used to be with my favorite childhood superhero. At the end of each show, he was Bill Bixby, walking backwards to the tune of pretty piano music while thumbing for a ride. He played David (a.k.a. Bruce) Banner. But when he became the Hulk, he would emerge in the form of Lou Ferrigno, a massive, towering, green-painted man, standing 6’5 with 23-and-a-half inch arms, weighing 330 pounds. Limited special effects of the time didn’t take from the feeling that when those eyes started turning green, and when those shirts and pant-legs began to rip, all hell was about to break loose!

But movies aren’t the same now. Animation does nearly everything. Character nuances and subtle facial expressions are done (or I should say overdone) with special effects. I have never been drawn to modern animation. To me, Hanna-Barbera did it way better, leaving more room for the exercise of imagination. Their animation was much more eye-friendly, and to me at least, much more aesthetically pleasing. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but damnit, that’s how I feel!

But as with movies that start out as novels or comic books, a standard must be maintained. The more the movie bears resemblance to the original source, the better it is. The “real” comic book Hulk does not stand at 6’5, more like 9’5. He’s huge and lumbering, weighing in somewhere in the neighborhood of a thousand pounds. He is massive beyond belief. Thus, it requires animation to bring that to life when no actor can. And even though it is to my grave dislike, animation is taking movies further than we ever thought they would go. So be it.

Unlike the 2003 movie Hulk, The Incredible Hulk is more enjoyable and more appealing. The unearthly rage and power of the beloved green superhero was seen in the earlier flick, but many more awesome fight scenes are found in the new one. And add to that, we have big-time competition for the Hulk now! Nothing spells excitement like a super-powerhouse clashing with another super-powerhouse. With the rise of The Abomination, the Hulk’s definitely got his hands full.

If you followed the comics, you’re familiar with The Abomination (the Hulk’s arch-nemesis), equal in power and ferociousness to the Hulk (and in some ways, surpassing him). But if you’re not familiar with the comics, that’s ok. Just sit back and enjoy the action and the storyline. Right through to the end, it continues from where the 2003 movie left off. Banner is on the run and hiding. What will he do? Will he find a cure, or will the government catch him first? Watch and find out!

The film is detail-oriented too, taking comic book-based sci-fi/fantasy material and making it nearly believable in the real world. It’s not often that reality and fantasy are blended together exceptionally well in a movie, but here is an exception. And then there is the personal side of Banner with his love interest. Where does their relationship stand since his departure and how will it end up? It’s all dealt with in the story. Traditional Hulk fans want to see plenty of teeth-gritting, testosterone-pumping, building-smashing violence, that’s for sure. And there’s plenty of that to go around, but there’s also a lot more to the movie.

You not only understand everyone in The Incredible Hulk, but you like them as well. There is a technical side of things too. A lot is said about the experiments and procedures that create “hulks,” giving the audience more to chew on. Action sequences are tight, extremely fast-moving, and “in your face.” If you are not already used to it, you’ll get used to it as the movie progresses. If, like me, you find yourself thoroughly enjoying the movie while still having a teeny, tiny hankering for the good old days before flashy, animated fight scenes became the norm, take heart. Lou Ferrigno himself makes a cameo appearance! Having that exhibited excellent taste on the part of the director.

Overdone special effects are not absent from the film, nor are occasionally jimmy-rigged physics. But the latter is to be forgiven, being that this is a comic book movie.

If you are a Hulk fan, you’ll love it. If you are not a Hulk or a comic book fan, but you are an action movie fan who can appreciate some scifi/fantasy elements in a movie, you’ll love it just the same. Moving, suspenseful, and always exciting, I am happy to give 4 stars to The Incredible Hulk. But given a choice, I’d still prefer things the way they were in the olden days: “Mr. McGee, don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

(JH)

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Grade: A- (4 stars) Recommended!
Rated: PG-13
Director: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Ed Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell, William Hurt
Genre: Action-Adventure
Summation: Scientist Bruce Banner, having retreated into hiding to discreetly find a cure for the rage that lies within him, is forced out of the shadows by the military, now to face a formidable foe.

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