The Incredible Hulk Blu-Ray Review

HULK SMASHing High Definition

It is the year of The Avengers, and so I?ve been taking the time to rewatch the movies that led up to this behemoth of a film. And behemoth is a good word to use, as I?ve been watching ?The Incredible Hulk? starring Ed Norton, Tim Roth and Liv Tyler. This was Marvel?s second attempt at a Hulk movie following on from Ang Lee?s truly horrendous film. Eschewing a long convoluted origin story (instead this is nicely wrapped up in the opening credits?take note other film-makers!) the film dives straight in to the story of Dr Bruce Banner hiding out while being hunted by the nefarious General Ross (played by William Hurt). This gives us action all the way, with no fat around the edges. We kick off in the favelas of Rio where you really don?t want to make Banner angry (a brilliant play on words gag is thrown in at this point in the film), and introducing us to Tim Roth?s very English special forces badass Emil Blonsky. Escaping the military Banner heads home to the US to find a scientist who claims he can help cure him, and accidentally bumping in to his ex-squeeze, Betty Ross (daughter of General Ross). We learn of General Ross?s desire to use Banner?s gamma radiation work as the basis of a new super-soldier serum (like the one used to create Captain America) and Tim Roth?s Blonsky, determined to do anything to prove his worth, volunteers to take the dodgy-juice. Cue big Hulk vs military fights, followed by some scenes ripped straight from The Ultimates comics, concluding in a Harlem-destroying battle between the Hulk and the Abomination (think bigger greyer Hulk).

This is a far superior version of the Hulk than Ang Lee?s digitised disaster, and a much better interpretation of Bruce Banner. Liv Tyler even makes for a believable Betty Ross (comic?s biggest Hulk-tease!) General Ross comes across as the ?military-means-best? psychopath he always was in the comics. All in all, it is a superb comic-book in a film. And you can see just how close Marvel came to their finished Hulk from The Avengers (Ruffalo does make a better Banner than Norton, but only just). The film ties in nicely with Avengers (the latter film nodding to it with references to Harlem etc?) and gives us a Hulk we can enjoy for both his smashing antics and his tragedy. It is not a perfect film, but then neither was Thor or Capt America. Come to that, neither was Iron Man 2 and the less we say about Daredevil, Elektra, Spiderman 3, Xmen 3 and Wolverine the better, eh? Let?s be honest, this is a comic-book movie and as such it needs to be a faithful rendition in film, with action, excitement and a plot that makes some sense while maintaining the fantastical ridiculousness of the source material. It does this in spades, and doesn?t overstay its welcome. It tells us who and what the Hulk is, allows the creature to be both monstrous and intelligent, and sets up Banner as a reluctant hero being controlled by both the beast within and the more dangerous military beast without.

The CGI Hulk is a finer creation than the one we saw in the Ang Lee film, but he still suffers from some shininess and poor matting at times. But he does have heft and weight, and is more realistic than you may expect. The jump in technology since 2008 has allowed for Mark Ruffalo?s Hulk to be more expressive and to fit in with his environment better, but we should look at Norton?s Hulk with pride?he feels real enough for us to suspend our disbelief.

So?The Incredible Hulk looks good on BD, and sounds good. The release includes some making of docs, a history of the comic books, plus an alternate opening and deleted scenes. It is a decent package at a good price. Does Hulk smash? He certainly dominates the film, but without falling in to cartoony kitsch. Norton is a pensive and thoughtful Banner while the beast quickly cements his place as the least-likely hero in the Marvel universe. I?m not sure post-Avengers that the Hulk can or should hold a whole film of his own again, but he will definitely make for a wonderful cameo character.

Although, that said?World War Hulk the movie? THAT I would pay money to see!

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