In the opening credits we are filled in on the events that lead Dr. Bruce Banner to be hiding in Brazil exploring techniques to control his temper. For those familiar with the story, this is an adequate way to provide the information, but those new to the Hulk may be left confused before the film ever gets started. From there, director Louis Leterrier delivers 112 minutes of loud action that will go well with a bucket of popcorn or snack of your choosing.
That may be enough for some, but those looking for more will be disappointed. The talented cast stars Edward Norton as Dr. Bruce Banner; Liv Tyler as love interest Betty Ross; William Hurt as General Ross, father of Betty, and military force behind the original project that resulted in Banner’s Hulk; and Tim Roth as the new military weapon. All give amazingly one-dimensional performances that result in the audience longing for The Hulk to appear. The story too is somewhat one dimensional, though well paced; there is not a lot that is new here.
The special effects that produce the Hulk are for the most part believable though there are scenes where are anti-hero does appear a bit cartoonish. The climactic battle scene between our two gamma-induced creatures is fun for a while, but like this film, never really goes anywhere, and leaves the audience scratching their heads as to how the Hulk manages to subdue his opponent long enough for an unexplained transition to occur in the film. Yes, it is obviously left open for a sequel, but that’s no reason not to provide a conclusion to this scene.
There is a musical homage to the classic television series, as well as a nod to Bill Bixby, and the cameo by Lou Ferrigno is sure to put a smile on the face of any true Hulk fan. On the other hand; the cameo by Robert Downey Jr. lacks the fun that should have been generated by the introduction of the Avenger Initiative and Nick Fury in Iron Man. The required appearance of Stan Lee simply served as a wasted opportunity for what should have been a fun scene and special effects opportunity had the writers bothered to explore the concept rather than just tell us that his character had been exposed to Gamma poisoning.
Recommendation: A fun summer movie for the kids, but simply too one-dimensional and too many missed opportunities for adults. Catch Iron Man instead.