The Hulk in The Incredible Hulk is savage, wildly so. Roaring at thunder and launching a rock into the sky, he’s ready to take on the elements! But he knows just when to pull back, as does the director and screenwriter.
Humanity remains in the title character, that big green monster that would rather smash than talk things through. And like many comic book characters from years gone by there are lessons we can learn from our hero’s dilemmas. What in Bruce Banner, Hulk’s alter ego’s, plight can we learn from? What relates to us as people? It’s a far more difficult question to answer than you think. How many of us are so angry that we have emotional breakdowns? Not many.
But on a smaller scale how many of us scream at a car that just cut us off, or want to punch the person who just cut in front of us in line or how many of us become angry at things we see in the news – unable to do anything about what we’re watching? or how many of us witness out children unable to take the bullies picking on them anymore unleash a torrent of anger, sometimes with fists…these days too often with guns. When I was in middle school a girl brought a razor blade to school to fight another girl! How many fights are started over petty things like this? The Hulk has a lot it can teach us and our children.
It’s only when we witness the government, portrayed by William Hurt, taking the anger that each of us, including Bruce Banner, tries to overcome in our lives and focuses it into a killing machine do we witness the true morality tale at the heart of The Incredible Hulk. Anger can be good…to a point.
The backlash about superheroes taking over the cineplex is beginning to be heard, but the reason why they are so popular is because unlike the plethora of action movies that were hitting the megaplex a few years back, like the Gone in 60 Seconds and Cliffhangers of the past, you can relate to these super powered people.
It all begins with the casting. Ed Norton isn’t too buff. His looks aren’t too polished, as Toby Maguire’s Peter Parker wasn’t. His skill as a performer allows us to see the internal struggle which only heightens the external one. He’s a perfect everyman. The fact that he’s unwilling to compromise behind the scenes is unfortunate as film is a collaboration, but I understand artistic integrity, it just has to meet somewhere in the middle with entertainment.
And folks, this new incarnation of The Incredible Hulk is entertaining, from beginning to end. Louis Leterrier, the French director that brought emotional savagery to Jet Li’s magnificent film Unleashed, is the third reason why The Incredible Hulk works so well. He mixes moments of impassioned human struggle equivalent to the television series that I grew up on, with moments of great humor and moments of brute savagery. That sometimes makes you cringe it’s so relentless.
The other players are great, which includes a sneering Tim Roth and a beautiful Liv Tyler, whose able to calm the green giant with her milky white skin.
The special effects are wonderful. Looking into the Hulk’s face you see both animal and human fighting for control over the situation around him. The final fight between Hulk and the Abomination trumps the final fight between Iron Man and the other big metal guy hands down. And when Hulk bellows “Hulk smash!” it’s more than just a call to arms but an emotional outpouring so strong you want to stand up and cheer.
Thankfully the writer, Zak Penn, will also be putting pen to paper for Captain America and The Avengers movie (which has now been hinted at in both the Iron Man film and now The Incredible Hulk.) And if he continues to build on his screenplay skills as he has since the so-so X-Men: the Last Stand, there’s a lot to look forward to before 2011.