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Ed Norton’s 2008 Hulk Version

June 20, 2008

The Incredible Hulk was primarily a TV series in the 70’s. The first movie version was Ang Lee’s 2003 version, which proved to be a flop, as fans could not digest Lee’s artsy, angtsy take on their hero. Lee doing a super hero movie, was akin toQuentin Tarantino doing a Forrest Gump kinda movie. As if to make amends Universal which lost heavily on the 2003 version, this time played safe and bought in French action movie director Louis Letterier, who directed the Transporterseries, to come up with something that could appeal to the fan boys and crowds. Actor Ed Norton, himself wrote the screenplay for the movie.

The movie starts off with a series of clips showing the flashback of the Hulk. The Hulk is primarily the alter ego of Dr. Bruce Banner( Ed Norton), a result of a gamma radiation accident, which makes him come out whenever Banner loses control over his emotions. In a way the character of The Hulk, is about the beast lurking within the man, which when unleashed can wreck havoc. His girlfiend Betty Ross( Liv Tyler) has been hospitalized, due to the incident. Right now, Banner is living incongnito, as a fugitive in a Brazilian slum, working for a soft drink bottling factory. He tries to control his emotions using meditation, martial arts and Ju Jitsu. He is also in contact over the net with a friend named “Mr Blue” who could find a cure to his condition.

Unfortunately an accident at the plant, causes a drop of his blood, to fall into one of the bottles. And in a coincidence which happens only in movies, that bottle finds its way to the US, where a customer drinks it and dies immediately. Incidentally the customer was played by Stan Lee, one of the founders of Marvel Comics, and who also created the comic book character of The Hulk. Now dont ask me why some one in US, would want to have a soft drink that has been made in Brazil. Anyway his death is enough to alert Gen Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross( William Hurt) , the man who wants to harness the Hulk’s inner energies to create an army of super soldiers, of where Banner is hiding, and he sends a team headed by Emil Blonsky( Tim Roth), a Russian born British special ops expert to capture Banner. And after a chase during which Banner transforms into the Hulk and escapes from the team,. he makes his way back to US.

Back in US, Banner finds that his girl Betty is now dating a pyschiatrist. Banner takes up a job as a pizza delivery boy, to sneak into the University campus, and keep doing his research, to enable him to become normal again. Blonsky now back in US, tells about the Hulk to Gen.Ross, who then explains that Dr. Bruce Banner himself is The Hulk, and the entire story behind it. Blonsky now seething with revenge injects himself with theVita Ray serum, that transformed Banner into the Hulk. Banner meanwhile reunited with Betty finds out Mr. Blue who in reality is Samuel Sterns, a chemical researcher.

So does the Hulk satisfy the expectations of the fans? In a word yes. While this is not as good as Ironman,easily the best among the super hero movies this year so far, it still is fairly watchable. Though more of an entertainer and actioner, it is not totally mindless. There are some pretty good dramatic scenes also.

For action lovers, there are ample adrenaline inducing moment the best being a chase in the slums of Brazil. Also the scenes where Banner becomes The Hulk are effectively done. Another interesting scene is where Samuel Stern, applies the antidote to Banner.

Some good dramatic scenes too
** The scene where Emil Blonsky gets to know the truth about the Hulk.
** The scene where Blonsky and Hulk face off for the first time.
** The scene where Banner and Betty are reunited.

However the scene where the Hulk saves Betty and takes her to the cave, looks pretty cheesy. Also the climax scene where The Hulk battles the super villian, Abomination, aka Emil Blonsky, seems like a Predator vs Alien redux.

However do watch out for the piece de resistance before the ending credits, when we have Tony Stark, aka Ironman( Robert Downey Jr) meeting Gen. Ross and indicating a possible alliance. This could hint towards a movie version of The Avengers, the Marvel Comics super hero league that had the Hulk and Ironman. If one remembers in Ironman, the ending credits, saw Samuel Jackson making a cameo as Nick Fury, another of the super hero league. Some really clever marketing strategies there by Marvel Comics.

Ed Norton, does the role of Bruce Banner, which was earlier done by Eric Bana in the 2003 version. Norton does fit into the role well, and also if you consider the fact, that Norton excels in these kinda dual personality roles, as we have seen in movies like Primal Fear and Fight Club.
Liv Tyler is adequate, though i missed good ole Jennifer Connely, who played the role of Betty in the 2003 version, while William Hurt turns in a good performance as Gen. Ross.
As the baddie Tim Roth, who has made a career of playing the nasty guy in movies like Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Rob Roy, gives in a great performance. Suitably nasty and evil, without going too over the top, he brings the right amount of menace needed for the role.

Though not as great as Iron Man or Batman Begins, it is still much better than the latest Indy Jones adventure. So go ahead and watch it.

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