The Incredible HulkIt has been five years since Dr. Bruce Banner fled as a fugitive from the United States of America, and has been on the run ever since, currently finding himself eking out a living in a bottling factory in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

The reason he is here is simple – in an experiment gone wrong, scientist Bruce Banner was subjected to a lethal dose of gamma radiation… except the radiation did in fact not kill him but instead created a twisted green behemoth that is bigger and stronger than any man could ever be and is fuelled only by rage and anger. This ‘Hulk’ destroyed the lab and even hospitalized his colleague and lover, Betty Ross before going on an even bigger rampage.

Now, in an effort to calm down and find a cure to this affliction, Bruce finds himself stuck with the poorest of the poor, far away from those that he might hurt or those who want to capture him and turn his potential for destruction for their own purposes, like the military forces of the U.S. who seem more than a little intent on his capture.

However, with the persistent General Ross, Betty’s father and for who this hunt is both a matter of personal and national importance, Bruce never really has time to rest and as he is soon about to find out, not even Brazil is far enough to escape the clutches of the U.S. military forces!

Emil Blonsky is a highly decorated career soldier who gets pulled aboard General Ross’ capture plans and his first taste of the Hulk leaves a more than bitter taste in his mouth. But with a desire to not lose to any man, the increasingly obsessed Emil is prepared to take anything to level the playing fields between him and the Hulk – even if it means turning himself into the very monster he hopes to capture!

All this means a madcap game of cat and mouse as Bruce races to cure himself with the help of his remaining friends in the States while the army forever closes in on him. However, even if they do find him, all they do is make him mad. And you won’t like puny little Bruce Banner when he’s angry…

The Incredible Hulk is 2008 release by Marvel Studios and is directed by Louis Leterrier, best known for his two Transporter and Unleashed movies. The movie stars Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/the Hulk, Liv Tyler as Betty Ross, William Hurt as General Ross and Tim Roth as the Emil Blonsky/the Abomination.

After Ang Lee’s disappointingly intellectual 2003 Hulk, Leterrier was determined to bring this new movie back to its fugitive story roots and therefore decided to reboot the Hulk franchise once more, and in the process align the new movie closer to the original TV series and comic book run. And admittedly, I must say that he has done an excellent job of giving Hulk back to us fans.

The story is well written and manages to explore the dual obsessions of a man searching for a cure while battling with his inner demons in order not to hurt anyone else, as well as a man obsessed with serving his country and extracting his personal vengeance at the same time. The movie manages to pull you in, make you emphathise with the likeable main character and then push you to the edge of your seat as it finishes things off with a big, very loud bang. There’s romance, intrigue, drama and plenty of action, making Hulk the perfect blockbuster movie.

Ed Norton turns out to be a superb choice as the titular Hulk/Bruce Banner as he manages to capture the essence of the character perfectly, churning out one of the most believable, vulnerable scientist Bruce Banners in a long time. Liv Tyler puts in her usual loving damsel performance to great effect, while William Hurt does an excellent job as the obsessed general who will stop at nothing to complete his mission and press Hulk in the army’s service. However, when it comes to the supporting characters, then certainly Tim Roth must take the cake as Emil Blonsky, the slightly psychotic career solider who fears nothing and will take anything on – even if it is the bloody Hulk for goodness sake!

Visually, The Incredible Hulk is a masterpiece with the cinematographers finally managing a believable blend of CG and live-action, a far cry from what was achieved with the 2003 movie. Special attention has been paid to colouring and textures, particularly for the Hulk himself and the result is a much meaner, more aggressive looking creature that blends in with the live-action surroundings in a far more convincing manner.

Of course with all the military ordinance being thrown around and the sheer destructive power of both the Hulk and the Abomination, the special effects guys have been kept on their toes as well, with almost all the explosive action sequences coming out top notch. Of course, Leterrier didn’t want to be outdone by all the special effects either I imagine, and has managed the more mundane traditional film work with just as steady a hand, breathing some atmospheric and visually enjoyable sequences into the film in the process.

Hollywood film score veteran, composer Craig Armstrong has been pulled onboard for the soundtrack for The Incredible Hulk and he churns out a powerful score than complements and fits the movie like a glove.

In summary, I have to say that The Incredible Hulk left me happy. It is a great action-packed movie that has a decent story to tell, it has some fantastic visuals and some great performances as well, and it makes enough comic references to keep fanboys like myself happy to boot! This certainly is one of the better superhero movies out there, and it would be a shame for you to miss it, even if you don’t know who the Hulk is in the first place!

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