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Toon Talk: The Incredible Hulk
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by Kirby C. Holt
(c) Marvel / Universal
The Incredible Hulk
Marvel / Universal
MPAA Rating: PG-13
It doesn’t happen until late in the movie, but when the emerald-skinned behemoth known as The Incredible Hulk finally says his key comic-born catchphrase “Hulk SMASH!”, it is well worth the wait. After a poorly received Ang Lee directed film version just five years ago, the not-so-jolly green giant is craftily reinvented in this, the latest big screen superhero extravaganza, a lean mean fighting machine of a summer movie, in theaters now.
Indeed, the Hulk does do a lot of smashing in director Louis Leterrier’s (of The Transporter films fame) take on the beloved pop culture antihero; also, a fair share of leaping, howling and general mass destruction. But, as in his original Stan Lee/Jack Kirby comic book form, as well as subsequent four color incarnations and the equally classic 70’s television series (which was basically a variation of another tube classic, The Fugitive), the dramatic aspects of a man whose very body is out of his control is explored … amidst all the smashing, of course.
(c) Marvel / Universal
That man is Dr. Bruce Banner (now played by Edward Norton, who also had an uncredited hand in the script), the American scientist -- with serious anger management issues -- who we find has eluded the US military (they want him back for their own ends) and is now hiding out in the slums of Brazil. Even there, he is desperate to find a cure for his gamma-rayed condition, at whatever cost.
Hot on his trail though is General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt), a hard-nosed Army man of the old school variety, who wants the scientific data now flowing through Banner’s veins to build his own indestructible squadron of “super soldiers”. To that end, he enlists Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), an adrenaline addict just bloodthirsty enough to undergo similar “body enhancements” to get the job of finding (and capturing) Banner done.
A Hulked-out Banner eludes them south of the border, and makes his way stateside, where he tracks down the one person he can trust, fellow scientist (and old flame) Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), who also happens to be the general’s daughter. The beauty to his inner beast, she helps him find Dr. Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson), a slightly wacko scientist that may have the answers they are looking for to cure Banner’s hulkdom. Unfortunately, the sudden appearance of an equally hulking adversary may squelch that possibility.
Unlike Lee’s Hulk, this film isn’t afraid to embrace its comic book -- and TV -- roots. It is filled with cleverly placed cameos (Stan Lee, again) and humorous bits (we finally learn where those purple pants came from) to liven up the proceedings, counting on its core audience to recognize and embrace the nods to the character’s near mythic past(s). Even a certain Armani-clad multi-millionaire (and recent box office sensation) makes an eleventh hour appearance, hinting at future avengers … uh, adventures to come.