Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Movie #281: The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk is the second movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, William Hurt, Tyler Blake Nelson, and Tim Roth.

Rather than being an origin story, this one picks up with Bruce Banner (Norton) having already become the Hulk, and smashed up his lab, leaving his girlfriend Betty Ross (Tyler) and her father General Thaddeus Ross (Hurt) injured. He's been on the run for a while, and settled in Brazil, working at a bottling factory and corresponding with a mysterious benefactor named Mr. Blue. When he accidentally gives away his position, General Ross sends a team in, led by Royal Marine Emil Blonsky (Roth). They find Banner...but of course the Hulk kicks their collective ass.

From there it's a game of cat and mouse, if by "cat and mouse" we mean "elephant and slightly smaller, louder, elephants." Banner goes home and finds Betty, now shacked up with a shrink named Leonard Samson (Ty Burrell, hoping desperately to play him as Doc Samson at some point). But the army finds them again, the Hulk comes out again, and then it's on to New York, where they meet up with Mr. Blue - actually a scientist named Samuel Sterns (Nelson).

Sterns attempts to cure the Hulk, but then winds up creating the Abomination as Blonsky, already flying high on a super-soldier serum that Ross gave him, forces (well, asks, because Sterns cheerfully agrees) to give him some of Banner's blood. And then it's a showdown in Harlem!

This is probably the weakest of the MCU movies, but that doesn't mean it's bad. It's actually a pretty good movie, but it doesn't feel as tight as some of the others, and y'know, I have to assume that's because they let Norton run rampant all over it. But it was only the second one in the series, before they really found their footing. I have to say that, now having seen Avengers, I rather wish we'd gotten a Hulk movie with Mark Ruffalo instead, because I prefer his take on the character. Norton feels...kind of conciliatory and milquetoast, and while you buy the history of his relationship with Betty, the chemistry isn't quite there. But Roth is awesome as Blonsky, desperate and jealous of the Hulk's raw power, and Nelson is a lot of fun as Sterns; you can see the super-villain origin plain as day. I actually really hope they have him back at some point.

My grade: B
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: 13th Warrior, The