The Incredible Hulk (2008)

(In theaters, June 2008) The good news are that this “reboot” is much better than the dull yet repellent Ang Lee 2003 film. Of course, that’s a low bar, and the best that this one can do is to score near “better-than-average”. Edward Norton may or may not be better than Eric Bana, but his Bruce Banner is compelling, and in fact more interesting than The Hulk itself. Much like Iron Man (also produced directly by Marvel rather than licensed to others), The Incredible Hulk‘s main strength is its thorough knowledge of the character and its familiarity with the basics. As a result, we skip past the whole origin story in an efficient credit sequence, then pick up later on with a more interesting plot about keeping things under control (or not). The Brazilian favelas make for fantastic scenery that set the tone for a well-controlled, well-delivered experience despite occasional blips of confusion caused by enthusiastic over-editing. (The tie-in novel reportedly covers the missing bits.) The action scenes, ironically, are where the film breaks down most visibly: They go on for a while, but always seem to end too-quickly, without much by way of resolution or built-up climax. But having mastered the art of delivering a satisfying Hulk film, Marvel may want to look at making up something that goes beyond that: Since “the cure” would destroy the character, it’s obvious that this is a goal that will always be frustrated. This particular instance of The Incredible Hulk may be okay, but it doesn’t go beyond that. At least it blurs memories of the previous attempt at the character, and sets up a next one.

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