Incredible Hulk, The (DVD Review)12 Oct, 2008 By: John Latchem
Box Office $134.5 million
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 two-DVD set, $39.98 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of intense action violence, some frightening sci-fi images and brief suggestive content.
Stars Edward Norton, Tim Roth, Liv Tyler, William Hurt.
This new interpretation of the Hulk from director Louis Leterrier plays like a sequel to a film that was never actually made. It follows Ang Lee’s 2003 version, picking up the Army’s chase for Bruce Banner in South America, his location at the end of Lee’s film. The connections pretty much end there, and Leterrier’s version steers clear of the earlier story.
Edward Norton takes over for Eric Bana, among other cast changes, in this reboot that opens with flashbacks to Banner’s experiments that exposed him to gamma radiation and transformed him into the Hulk. It’s as if these flashbacks were plucked from a conventional origin story many fans wished was made in 2003, rather than Lee’s existential examination of the darker undercurrents of the human soul.
The nature of the gamma experiments has changed as well. In Lee’s version, the gamma radiation activates latent genes injected into Banner as a child by his father. The updated version involves an Army experiment to create super soldiers, which ties into the larger Marvel Comics mythology (the origin of Captain America) and fits in with a crossover storyline begun in Iron Man.
The Incredible Hulk is certainly a more enjoyable experience than the 2003 film, settling in as a decent action thriller. Norton is an upgrade from Bana in the title role, while the rest of the cast change is a wash.
The movie also benefits from the inclusion of a real villain, the Abomination, who is essentially just an evil version of the Hulk.
The DVD presentation offers the standard fare, with most of the behind-the-scenes featurettes focusing on the visual effects of creating the Hulk and filming key action sequences.
Curiously, the film’s deleted scenes are spread across the two discs, rather than being batched together. Included is an alternate opening that without the proper context doesn’t make much sense.
This sequence is discussed briefly in a run-of-the-mill commentary with Leterrier and Tim Roth, who plays the Abomination.