The Incredible Hulk Smash!

With all of these awesome Marvel superhero movies coming out, I feel that I’m starting to sound like a broken record. I always seem to say that while I never read the Marvel comics as a kid, I am for the most part loving the big screen adaptations that are coming around.

The Incredible Hulk is no different.

The best part about this movie is that it has completely turned its back on – and ultimately ignored – Ang Lee’s failed attempt from five years ago. As a reboot of the franchise, this film stars Ed Norton as Bruce Banner. He’s on the run from the U.S. military, who is trying to track him down in order to use his “condition” to make supersoldiers.

When Banner comes back to the U.S. to find the original data on the botched experiment that made him the Hulk, he runs into his former lover Betty Ross (Liv Tyler). They try to cure him, but soon find themselves pitted against a new supersoldier (Tim Roth) that has a hulk-out moment of his own.

In the tradition of X-Men and Spider-Man, this version of The Incredible Hulk is a solid adaptation for the big screen that retains its comic book feel. Bodybuilders in green paint are passed up for a CGI Hulk that looks pretty cool in the action sequences but still retains some of the CG artifacts that make it look a little cartoony.

However, this is totally forgivable for two reasons. 1) There are plenty of hulk-out moments in the film, and 2) when Banner does turn into the Hulk, you’re in for some incredible action sequences. Director Louis Leterrier, who was responsible for the live-action Road Runner cartoon that was Transporter 2, does a fine job balancing the slower moments with whip-ass action.

Ultimately, the story is pretty simple, and it’s more reminiscent of the old television show than the Ang Lee crapsterpiece – and that’s a good thing. The cast is well placed. Norton is totally believable as a scientist with an awesome power he wishes to keep repressed. Tyler is surprisingly tender in her role. William Hurt plays the perfect prick as the military general tracking down the Hulk. And Tim Roth is spot-on as the off-kilter military vet who eventually becomes The Abomination.

I had a lot of fun watching The Incredible Hulk, arguably more than I did watching Iron man earlier this year. The darker tone was something I was attuned to, and while Iron Man was back-loaded with all the cool superhero footage, The Incredible Hulk paces its smashing moments evenly through the film.

After the one-two punch of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk (with a well-placed crossover cameo), I have total faith in Marvel Studios. Crossover material is the essence of comic books, and they are setting the groundwork to bring an awesome superhero universe off the pulp page and onto the big screen.

THE UPSIDE: Waaaaaaaaaaaaay better than the crap Ang Lee gave us.

THE DOWNSIDE: Some of the CG broke down.

ON THE SIDE: Some douche bag at the screening we attended was really, really offended that we didn’t know who The Leader was.

Grade: A-

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