Now, if any of you have actually seen Ang Lee’s version of The Hulk which hit movie screens in 2003 and liked the movie and the main protagonist, Bruce Banner a.k.a The Hulk, you will absolutely enjoy this movie, the first official Marvel Comics version of this character, The Incredible Hulk.
I had seen and read enough reviews and news about this movie that piqued my interest in this movie, and the fact that this was the second Marvel release in just about over a month after The Iron Man (which I unfortunately missed in the theatres due to the fact that I was actually on my way back from the US) also made it pretty much mandatory that I actually caught this movie in the theatres. And man, did it turn out to be one of the best decisions of my life or what.
First up, I have to put up a disclaimer. I am in love with comic-book characters who are thrust into being somebody else due to destiny or fate or accident, without any fault of their own. Superheroes like Batman, Spiderman, the Hulk, are examples of ordinary men who are forced to become their alter-egos without having a choice not to become that. Agreed, Batman always has a choice to be Bruce Wayne and nobody else, but then he is so stuck with his choice of being the guardian of Gotham City that he really doesn’t have a choice. That being said, let me get on with a small spoiler-ridden review of the movie itself. Now, even if you have not watched this movie, this review will ask you a few questions to which you can look for answers in the movie.
The movie credits start with pretty much a summary of the events in the Ang Lee movie which detail the facts as to how Genl. Ross commissions Dr Bruce Banner to work on the ‘supersoldier’ project, how the experiment goes horribly wrong when Banner accidentally exposes himself to Gamma Ray radiation which results in him becoming the Hulk, how during his rage he injures his friend, colleague, and sweetheart Betty Ross and how he ultimately manages to escape from the clutches of Genl Ross and his armies.
This movie starts off from the point where Banner is a fugitive working in a soft drink bottling factory in Brazil, while attempting to find a cure for his condition. He is also learning how to control his anger, by studying martial arts and meditative breathing techniques. Banner is also working with a mysterious Mr Blue, an internet friend to find a cure for his condition.
However, a freak accident results in his blood getting into a bottle of the soft drink, which ultimately puts Genl Ross’ men on his trail. This introduces the evil but frightfully interesting character of Emil Blonsky into the mix. Blonsky is a Russian born, ex-British special operations expert who is as cold-blooded and ruthless as they come. His first experiences with the Hulk result in him losing all his team members, and narrowly missing being killed himself. Blonsky is so enthralled with the power of the Hulk that Genl Ross uses his rage, anger, and evil to convince him to be injected with the original ‘supersoldier’ serum from WW-II days. The results of this serum are well visible when although Blonsky breaks all his bones in his second encounter with the Hulk, he recovers back to normal health in almost no time at all.
Now while Blonsky is slowly undergoing his transformation, Banner makes his way to Culver University to meet up with Betty Ross, after being pursued by the special forces at Brazil. He has two Hulk incidents, one in Brazil and the other one at Culver University where Betty is now a professor. After he rescues Betty from a helicopter accident, Banner and Betty get together and go to meet Mr Blue (Samuel Sterns) who in the meantime has developed an antidote that may cure Banner.
After trying this antidote, which manages to reverse Banner’s condition from the Hulk back to normal, Sterns reveals that he has synthesized Banner’s blood samples into a large supply to use it for research purposes, to enhance human blood for future generations. While Banner is trying to convince Sterns to destroy the lab, they are attacked by Genl Ross’ forces. Banner is tranquilized before he can transform into the Hulk.
In the meanwhile Blonsky who discovers Stern’s lab, manages to convince Stern to inject him with some of Banner’s blood, and turns into The Abomination. Stern himself is not left immune and is infected with some of the blood himself. What happens of him is left for the audience to wonder about. Now the Abomination realizing that he pretty much is the most powerful creature in the planet, walks out into the streets of New York and starts creating a carnage unseen or unheard of, calling out the Hulk, who is pretty much the closest that can get to being called ‘competition’.
Banner convinces Genl Ross to drop him out of a helicopter, transforms into the Hulk, and a crazy, amazing brawl ensues between the Hulk and the Abomination. The Hulk eventually turns out to be the angrier, stronger, crazier beast of the two. What happens of the Abomination is also another question that the director leaves unanswered.
The movie ends with Banner having escaped to British Columbia, where surprisingly enough, he is attempting to initiate the transformation into the Hulk in a controlled manner. AS his eyes turn green, his face beams up with a grin. This leaves the audience wondering what’s happening, because throughout the movie, Banner is shown as someone who is trying to get rid of his condition, whereas here he actually seems to be wanting to become the Hulk.
What works for The Incredible Hulk –
– Edward Norton, displays beautifully the frustration that Banner faces every time he realizes what destruction he causes as the HUlk. One of the best actors who can play the role of the confused reluctant superhero really well. In this case, although the Hulk is not a superhero per-se, he does help controlling the Abomination.
– Tim Roth, is probably the only guy who could have brought all that menacing evil to the character of Emil Blonsky. I have been seeing this guy act in movies such as ‘Reservoir Dogs’, ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Planet of the Apes’, and have always loved his work. But in this movie, Roth brings out the evil in Blonsky’s character so well that you will not be wrong if you are fooled into thinking that this is Roth playing himself, rather than just a character.
– The brawl between the Hulk and the Abomination is probably the best fight that I have seen in decades. Yes, the final fight between Optimus Prime and Megatron (in ‘Transformers’) was good, but this is better.
What does not work for The Incredible Hulk –
– Anybody who has not watch Ang Lee’s Hulk will probably miss out on the exact conflict of interest between Bruce Banner and the Hulk. They will probably not understand why Genl Ross is out to get the HUlk, and the three way conflict between Genl Ross, Betty Ross, Bruce Banner and the Hulk.
– Too many unanswered questions like – what happens to the Abomination? what happens to Samuel Sterns who is infected with Banner’s blood? what exactly is Tony Stark (aka The Iron Man) doing in the last frame of the Hulk movie? what does he mean when he says “we are forming a team”? why is Banner trying to transform himself into the Hulk? For anybody who is a fan of the Marvel comics series, although these questions raise a plethora of possibilities, for an average movie-goer this could get a little frustrating.
The following are the links to other review sites for this movie –
– Allmovie review
– Allmovie review