There's a special kind of movie experience that every now and then, we all get a craving for. I have officially dubbed this genre, the "$10 whore" movie. Let me explain. Like so many other things in life, going to the movies can be compared to sex. Sometimes, you want it to be a mesmerizing, wonderful experience that you'll cherish and love forever (The Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction, The Godfather, Star Wars). Other times, you're really just not in the mood to go through all the effort to find that special someone. You'd rather just spend a few bucks, sit back, get pleasured for 2 hours in a dark room and know with a smile on your face that it really doesn't mean anything in the long run. It's not love making, but you're OK with that You're just in the mood to fulfill your basic needs, and there's nothin' wrong with that. My good friends, The Incredible Hulk is just begging to be your whore.
The Incredible Hulk is Marvel's latest "Uhhh the first one was just a practice, you guys, seriously" film. For more on that subject, see: The Punisher. In 2003 Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain) directed Hulk, which was about as entertaining as having a pointy stick get crammed into your eye. Ang's Hulk was the first movie ever to drop 70% in theaters on week 2, after opening above $20 million in week 1. So how do you recover from such a bad rep? Take out the 'deep poetry' and put in tons of intense action scenes, CGI brawling and Edward Norton. That sounds about right.
This movie does NOT waste any time getting started. Right from the get-go, we're following Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, who is on the lam in Brazil and trying to find a cure to permanently end his transforming into the Hulk when overly angered/excited. The US Military is hot on his trail, lead by General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt) and soldier Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), who want to harness the power of the Hulk formula to create a race of super-soldiers. In his quest to find a cure, Banner crosses paths with his old lover and scientist, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), and they become fugitives together. After the militaries gun blazing tactics of bringing down Banner fail, Blonsky receives some serum injections of his own to give him an edge, and transforms into the Abomination, leading to an epic clash of titans in New York City.
This movie follows the same style of the 1970's TV show with Lou Ferrigno, who makes a cameo as a really jacked security guard who is easily swayed by free pizza. Edward Norton is probably one of the greatest actors who has ever lived. You could basically make a movie of him sitting trying to do a really hard crossword puzzle while sitting on the can in a heavy sweat for three and a half hours and I'd go see it. Unfortunately, unlike Iron Man where Robert Downey Junior is allowed to go nuts playing the role of I-do-what-I-want Tony Stark, Norton can't really have too much fun playing the role of a hero who has to constantly force himself to be more mellow than a piece of toast, otherwise he'll transform and kill everything. At least like the Incredible Hulk TV series, you just feel really bad for the guy who wants nothing more than a peaceful life, and to bang Liv Tyler without having to worry about ripping her in half. After all, that's really the simple dream of every man.
Also just like the TV show, this movie's real payoff is every time Norton's heart rate gets too high and he Hulks out. For a complete list of things that have caused Banner to go Hulk in the past, click here. Truly, this movie knows it's all about the Hulktastic fighting action, and went all out on the CGI/demolition budget. The final fight scene is an awesome visual display of Hulk vs. Abomination. Spoiler alert: smashing ensues.
The Bottom Line: Looking for solid, face-punching CGI action? You won't be disappointed my friend. The characters and story aren't as awesome as Iron Man, but they're enjoyable in their own right, and the film's more action packed than the 2003 Ang Lee version to be sure. If you miss it in theaters, at least do yourself a favor and rent it when it comes out to DVD just so you can get your necessary fulfillment of fist slamming goodness.
ALSO, IMPORTANT: Unlike Iron Man, you do NOT have to stay after the credits for this one. There IS a nice surprise waiting in this movie, but it's right at the end, so once those credits start rolling hop up and start forging a path to the parking lot.