Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hulk improves on the original

I got to see the "The Incredible Hulk" in a media preview screeing in Sacramento with my son this week, going into the film with low to medium expectations, especially after what I consider to be a disaster with the 2003 Ang Lee version starring Eric Bana.

As the new lead, Academy Award nominee Edward Norton struck the proper sensibility for the character of Bruce Banner, the tortured scientist who is struck with gamma rays, leaving him with a Jekyl and Hyde condition which has him alternating between himself and his alter ego "The Hulk" whenever someone makes him mad. Fans of the comic book and multiple animated series, as well as the live action version starring Bill Bixby will enjoy the little touches put into the film paying homage to those other incarnations of the franchise.

Where the 2003 version waited far too long to introduce a good view of the title character, this newest entry gives us a healthy taste of the Hulk right in the opening credits, followed up with the full body views within the first 25 minutes. There were far too few action sequences in the first film, but this one made up for that defecit with good action scenes in the beginning and final fight sequences, and only a bit of a slowdown in the middle, which still did little to detract from the overall fun of the film.

While it would be hard to take down the mega-hit of early summer "Ironman," I would place "The Incredible Hulk" firmly in third place at this point in the summer movie enjoyability scale, with the fourth installment in the Indiana Jones franchise in second place. I recommend this film to anyone with older grade school children, and thirty-somethings like myself who grew up appreciating comic books, super heroes, and the accompanying animated programs which made growing up in the 70s and 80s so much fun. I'm calling this "the summer of Marvel," and wish the new movie studio lots of luck as they move on to other projects such as "Captain America," "Hulk" and "Ironman" sequels, and "The Avengers."

I look forward to all of them with the same glee I had when peeling open the cover of a new comic book back in the days before cable TV, next generation video game consoles, and computer generated movie effects.

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