The Quarter Bin

Videos, Reviews, and Previews For Comic Fans

The summer of superhero cinema continues as the Green Goliath raged onto screens this past weekend. Did you see it? TheQuarterbin did. Hit the jump to see whether or not Ed Norton made me angry. Don’t worry, there won’t be major spoilers.

We were all disappointed from our experiences with Universal’s last foray into the history of Dr. Bruce Banner. Despite the few good points Ang Lee’s film had, I feel it spent too much time on the psyche and not enough time on the smashy. Lucky for us, somebody listened to the fan outcry and gave the go ahead for Louis Letterier to helm another attempt at the misunderstood hero. Acting as a loose follow-up to the previous film, Incredible Hulk takes the franchise back to its comic roots.

The film borrows heavily from several different comic sources in addition to cribbing the origin from the Bill Bixby television series. Surprisingly, many of the elements taken from the comic happen to come from the Bruce Jones run. While not necessarily a great run, there were some interesting ideas brought forth, including the idea of meditating with a metronome. There’s another moment late in the film which is adapted straight out of the ULTIMATES, and it fits quite nicely. This film didn’t try to force in connections to the source material; Zak Penn (and uncredited Ed Norton) does a nice job of letting the moments fans will recognize come naturally. Of course there are also little things to tie the film into the newly created Marvel movie universe. I won’t dare spoil them, but since you all already know about the Tony Stark scene (unless you don’t have the internet, and if that’s the case how are you even reading this?) I can tell you it evoked the same sense of “I can’t wait” the ending to Batman Begins brought.

I really appreciated the creative team’s attempt to bring the story back to its simpler roots. It’s been a long time since the Hulk’s comic tales have been about the love story between Banner and Betty Ross. Before everyone gets their collective underoos in a bunch, I’m not bashing the current comic writers. Greg Pak is one of the best writers MARVEL has right now. It was just nice to see the writers hadn’t forgotten what made the Hulk tick way back when Stan and Jack brought him to life. Unlike the previous film which created its own history for Dr. Banner, this one just modernized the classic formula to great effect.

While there was a lot of controversy over Ed Norton’s role in developing the film, it’s easy after seeing it to realize why he was so worried about getting the best version of the film out. Ed flat out carries this movie. Yes, you’re actually going to the movies to see a CGI Hulk battle it out with a CGI Abomination, but whenever the Hulk is not in the film, Norton puts everyone else on his back and says, “I got this.” I never really bought into Eric Bana as Bruce Banner. Too pretty and too bland. When Norton gets that hint of excited panic in his voice, you buy it. There’s something boiling under his skin, and he’s terrified to let it out. I never once got that feeling in the previous film. William Hurt does a serviceable job as General Ross, but never quite captures the mania the character is so known for in the comics. Liv Tyler struggles to convey emotions as Betty, looking constantly confused more than anything else. It didn’t help the one outburst of emotion they give her is played for laughs. Tim Roth does a fine job playing the analogue of Banner in Emil Blonsky. The problem with Roth is he’s such a great actor, playing a one-dimensional character makes it appear as if he’s overacting in every scene.

Enough about the plot and characters, let’s talk about the effects. The Hulk looks great. While Ang Lee’s had a more realistic approach (even though he was a little too bright green), Letterier mashes together some of the great artistic interpretations to create his version. There’s a little Dale Keown, a little Jack Kirby, and if my eyes were right, a little Erik Larsen. In broad daylight, the Hulk looks out of place. But then again, when you’re a ten-foot tall green monster, it’s hard to look like you belong anywhere. The Abomination is as interesting a take as I’ve seen in a while. It looks a little too Doomsday for me, especially during the fight scene, but it wasn’t that big a deal. The two fight for a good long while, and the climax of the film is much more satisfying than Iron Man‘s was. In fact, the only issue I had with any of the CGI was how difficult the action was to follow later in the film, but I think that was the look they were going for.

As a superhero film, the movie is a blast. It has everything a comic fan is looking for when it comes to the Hulk. Iron Man is still the better film, but I have to give Incredible Hulk its fair due. Are both worth seeing a second time? Yes. Are both day one Blu Ray purchases? Absolutely. Has MARVEL set yet another bar? You better believe it. Sure Dark Knight is right around the corner, and is most likely going to be amazing, but what else ya got DC? With everything MARVEL has going for it right now, I’m looking forward to what they have in store for us down the line. Which is more than I can say about certain other companies.

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