Reaction to director Ang Lee's 2003 adaptation couldn't have been more mixed. While some appreciated the fact that Lee had at least attempted (if not very successfully) to try and make a more thoughtful action movie, others had a different reaction when they found the movie lacked the action they were expecting. 5 years later, Marvel has now started producing movies, and apparently thought a redo was in order for one of their most famous characters.
The film, which was not without some controversy due to reported disagreements between star Ed Norton and director Louis Leterrier, isn't without its flaws as well, although those looking for sleek and stylish action will certainly find it in Leterrier ("Transporter"'s second unit director & "Transporter 2"'s director)'s film, which was written by Zak Penn ("X-Men 2 & 3", the upcoming "Avengers" movie).
The picture stars Norton as Bruce Banner, who is now hiding out in Brazil, working at a bottling factory and trying to train himself to control his anger - because, as anyone familiar with the character already is well aware, many people wouldn't like him when he's angry. After a small accident at the bottling plant, the government becomes aware of Banner's hiding place and General Ross (William Hurt) takes his soldiers and heads on a mission with Major Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) to capture Banner.
Eventually, Banner makes his way back into the US in order to try to find more about a potential cure for his condition. The first place he heads is back into the arms of fellow scientist and former love Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) - while she's found someone new, it's not long before she finds herself going on the run with Bruce. Meanwhile, General Ross isn't undeterred in his quest to catch Banner, but Blonsky also thirsts for the kind of power that Banner is in possession of and eventually gets his hands on a formula that turns him into a creature called the Abomination. The resulting battle with the Hulk spills out onto the streets of NYC.
The picture manages some entertaining action sequences, including a rather impressive sequence where the Hulk battles a set of soldiers who try to take the Hulk down with increasing force at a field outside of a university. The finale isn't too bad (it reminded me oddly of the old video game, "Rampage"), but some of the effects are a little on the iffy side. The story itself really doesn't offer much beyond the norm for a superhero tale (whereas Lee's film attempted to focus more on story and character and failed to gain the interest, this film goes very much in the opposite direction and works with a fairly thin frame of a plot.)
While the story isn't anything out of the ordinary, the performances do go a long way, especially Norton and Tyler, who have good chemistry in their few scenes together. Hurt, on the other hand, overacts in his role as the villain. In a supporting role, Roth is decent in a few scenes, but the character is underdeveloped to the point where it's difficult for the actor to make much of an impression. There is a noteworthy cameo at the end of the film from another character who audiences also saw in theatres last Summer.
Overall, "The Incredible Hulk" entertains when it gets some momentum going and the performances are pretty good. This isn't the strongest Summer blockbuster in recent years or even this year (in terms of this year, the other Marvel production, "Iron Man", would get the title), but - despite the picture's flaws - I was reasonably entertained for much of the film's 115 minutes.
VIDEO: "The Incredible Hulk" is presented by Universal in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. While not without a few concerns, this was mostly an excellent transfer of the film. Sharpness and detail seemed solid for the majority of the film, although the occasional moment looked slightly softer in comparison. However, most sequences looked crystal clear, and fine details were often clearly visible.
Although a few slight instances of edge enhancement were seen, the picture otherwise looked clean and clear, with no print flaws, pixelation or other concerns. Colors often looked rich and well-saturated, with no smearing or other concerns. Black level remained solid throughout, while flesh tones remained accurate. A few mild concerns aside, this was otherwise a top-notch transfer.
SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's sound mix offers an enjoyably slam-bang experience, with plenty of surround use throughout the picture for gunfire, explosions and other sound effects. Audio quality was excellent, as strong, deep bass was felt at times during the action sequences. Sound effects also sounded dynamic and well-recorded, while dialogue never seemed overwhelmed by the action. Overall, this was a fun and entertaining audio presentation.
EXTRAS: Director Louis Leterrier and actor Tim Roth offer a commentary for the film on the first disc. The two seem to be having a good deal of fun chatting about the film again, having a few laughs about some of the scenes and sharing behind-the-scenes stories. There is a fair amount of "happy talk" throughout the track, but we otherwise get a very in-depth discussion of many aspects of the production, such as effects and working with the cast.
Oddly enough, 6 of the deleted scenes included are offered with the first disc, while an alternate opening and another 17 deleted scenes are offered on the second disc of the set. While some of the effects in the alternate opening looked as if they could use some additional work, I actually thought it was an interesting concept. The remainder of the deleted scenes have some interesting moments, but none that truly stood out as a scene that would have solidly benefitted the film had it been included.
A pair of featurettes - "Becoming the Hulk" and "Becoming the Abomination" - explore the creation of the characters for about ten minutes each. Both featurettes look into the creation of the look of the character, visual effects and working with the actors. Both featurettes weren't remarkably in-depth, but did provide some good behind-the-scenes tidbits.
"Anatomy of a Hulk-Out" is split into three shorter featurettes, each walking viewers through the making of the three big Hulk sequences in the movie. All three featurettes provided some very good insights into the effects work, choreography and development of these sequences.
Finally, we also get a fine "making of" documentary that runs nearly 30 minutes, a shorter "From Comic Book to Screen" piece that runs several minutes and a digital copy of the film (which can be transferred to a PC or portable device) on a third disc.
Final Thoughts: I didn't think "The Incredible Hulk" was the strongest Summer blockbuster in recent years or even this year (in terms of this year, the other Marvel production, "Iron Man", would get the title), but - despite the picture's flaws - I was reasonably entertained for much of the film's 113 minutes. The DVD edition offers very good audio/video quality, as well as an above-average selection of supplements.
The Film B-