Finally went and saw it. The greatest disappointment of all was not (yet) having seen Ang Lee’s Hulk. Even borrowed it from the local library on inter-library loan, only to have the disc refuse to play after about 20 minutes. Didn’t have a chance to grab another copy before The Incredible Hulk left theaters. Most of all, I felt like I was betraying Ang Lee, to whom I feel a strange loyalty, even though I haven’t seen his film. Chalk it up as loyalty to an established artist over and above Louis Leterrier and his Transporter movies. That seems fair.
The Incredible Hulk simply wasn’t very compelling. One has to respect Edward Norton’s zeal for and involvement in the project, but reports imply that he went out of his way to revamp a “franchise” that had barely started. His performance as Bruce Banner, though widely praised, only seemed laudable in comparison with Liv Tyler’s role. (Why did she decide to restrict herself to two facial expressions for this part?) Easily, the biggest and best display of personality in this movie took place in the last five minutes, when a certain silhouetted figure walked through a bar door for a setup to the soon-to-be-realized Avengers film. Though a cool idea, this appearance did The Incredible Hulk a lot of harm. For anyone who couldn’t quite pinpoint what this movie was missing, they snapped their fingers and knew it as soon as he showed up.
Negative comments should be kept to a minimum, so here they are. The editing seemed atrocious. Shots changed with little or no regard for the relationship they should share. Shot/reverse shots had characters shifting positions completely, awkwardly demonstrating that the shooting and post-production work were hastily done and pleading the question, “What were they thinking?” Special effects couldn’t hold a candle to Guillermo del Toro’s stuff. Allegedly this film was made in part because of the poor effects in Lee’s Hulk, but the lighting and movement were off, big-time. When Betty and the Hulk share a scene in a cave, the big guy looks superimposed, similar to a poor Photoshop job. When he carries her through a field, she appears to be floating across the screen with a cartoon running on the other side of her. Finally, the attempts made to put the color green into the film were overwhelmingly overdone. From beginning to end, practically any time a character interacted with a prop (be it a soda bottle, a t-shirt, a hat, whatever), it was green. A little of this sort of thing can work well, but when you’re inundated with a monochromatic scheme, it just seems like a disregard for subtlety.
This film wasn’t that bad, perhaps. It just wasn’t that good. If you’re into fight scenes over content, failed attempts at campy humor, and a screen filled with the an ultra-CGI face screaming animal sounds, then this is killer stuff.
PS: A moment of love for Tim Roth. If Leterrier hadn’t shot him so close to William Hurt (making him appear a total shrimp), he would have been nearly perfect as the bad guy.