Hulk has plenty of muscle, but not much inspiration

PUBLISHED: 11:33 19 June 2008 | UPDATED: 15:09 07 September 2010

The Incredible Hulk (PG) Director Louis Letterier Starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Tim Blake Nelson 114mins Three star rating BY MICHAEL JOYCE As a comic strip The Hulk is one of Marvel comics most cherished creations, an effort

The Incredible Hulk (PG) Director Louis Letterier Starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Tim Blake Nelson

114mins

Three star rating

BY MICHAEL JOYCE

As a comic strip The Hulk is one of Marvel comics most cherished creations, an effortless amalgam of Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde and King Kong.

On screen though, he's always been the most ungainly. Five years after Ang Lee unleashed his Abominable Hulk, Marvel have decided to do it themselves and come up with a Perfectly Adequate Hulk.

Just to clarify, this is not a start all over again effort like Batman Begins; despite the entirely new cast it could conceivably be considered a sequel. The smartest move of the entire film is whisking us through its retelling of the Hulk's origins - the radiation experiment gone wrong that means every time he gets angry Bruce Banner (Norton) becomes a raging green monster - during the credits sequence. The movie opens with Bruce Banner on the run in South America where Ang Lee left him.

If you're a Caucasian male with severe anger management issues, trying to lie low and stay out of trouble, heading for the Favellas of Brazil is not the obvious choice. He doesn't last there long and the narrative quickly slips into the old routine of the drifter constantly on the move trying to stay ahead of the military.

In the film there is an onscreen graphic that pops up occasionally to mark the number of days since the last green incident. Norton (who also contributed to the script) isn't as comatose as Eric Bana in the role but if you applied that graphic to his acting career it'd be close to a decade since the last incidence of excitement.

The rest of the cast all look like they're here because of somebody else's idea of a good career move.

The one reason to do another Hulk film would be if they'd finally cracked how to do the Hulk creature properly but this one barely improves on the first film. Once the fight sequence starts it's effective enough but it looks flat and never really convinces in a live action setting.

Ang Lee's Hulk was an epic failure but it was at least epic. In comparison these new self funded Marvel films all have an air of big budget B-movies. Iron Man had a better cast and a more fully realised central figure but it was still a narrow, play it safe effort.

This is a brisk, entertaining and inordinately loud movie but it doesn't have a single moment of vision or inspiration.


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