Raging inside Dr. Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) is a monster waiting to be unleashed.
Anyone familiar with the comic book or the TV series that starred the late Bill Bixby will be familiar with the setup of “The Incredible Hulk,” the new film version of the classic tale by director Louis Leterrier of “The Transporter” fame.
For those of you unfamiliar with the tale, after Dr. Banner (Edward Norton), is exposed to an accidental overdose of Gamma radiation his body chemistry is altered in such a way that he transforms into a large, green, and destructive creature when he is angered.
Naturally, this puts him at odds with the authorities and the military; thus, Banner is forced to live a vagabond existence while he searches for a way to contain his inner rage.
As the film opens, Banner has already had his accident, and this is shown via a series of clips during the opening credits. Living a simple life in Brazil, Banner works as a laborer in a bottling plant, and attempts to keep as low a profile as he possibly can.
Banner communicates in secret via encrypted IM’s with a person he knows as Mr. Blue, and he hopes to extract the creature from his body by means of a plant. Mr. Blue offers Banner some ways to help his problem, but insists that he needs to seek more drastic treatment steps and needs to open up with him and let him try to help.
Since the military was funding his experiments and has huge interest in the creature Banner becomes, he decides the risk is too great and continues to find a cure in secret while he works on methods to control his anger via meditation.
Despite his best efforts, Banner is discovered by General Ross (William Hurt), who is the person in command of the program that Banner used to lead and dispatches a team led by a special operative named Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), attempt to capture Banner. Things do not go as planned, and the attempt only succeeds in angering Banner who transforms into the Hulk with devastating results.
Forced to flee once again, Banner travels back to the United States in an effort to find Mr. Blue in order to rid the menace inside him.
Things become even more complicated for Banner when Blonsky and General Ross decide that Blonsky should seek physical enhancements in an effort to combat the Hulk, and begin a series of treatments that increase Brodsky’s strength and abilities.
Banner finds refuge with an old friend, and soon runs into his old flame Betty (Liv Tyler), whom he has avoided since the accident in an effort to protect her for the potential danger within him.
Fate is soon to step in, and Banner will soon find himself on the run with Betty, but facing the General and his troops as well as a threat even more dangerous than The Hulk.
The new version of the film is light years ahead of the disaster that was the Ang Lee-directed film. Norton despite being a soft spoken individual has much more charisma for the part than did Eric Bana as he mixed pathos and humor to make Banner a well- rounded and more believable character. Since Norton co-wrote the script with Zack Penn, he clearly has put a lot of preparation in the characters as despite being comic book characters; they have more depth and humanity than most genre film characters do.
This allows the audience to become better immersed with the characters as his Banner is not some egghead whom the audience cannot connect with, but a real flesh and blood being who is dealing with extra ordinary circumstances.
Roth is solid as the greasy and power mad Blonsky and Hurt and Tyler do well with characters that would normally be stock parts in similar films.
What really impressed me besides the story and FX was the solid acting by Norton as well as the abundant respect for the source material. The film has very clever cameos by Stan Lee, Lou Ferrigno, as well as Bill Bixby which fit and does not come across as cheesy.
Without spoiling the surprise, there is a very nice moment at the end of the film that sets up future adventures as with the recent success of “Iron Man”. I for one am looking forward to more quality films about the Marvel Comics characters in the future, and especially more outings for Big Green.
Final Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars