The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Compared to Ang Lee's in most ways uninteresting 2003 Hulk, this new entry about the green 'superhero' is a small step up. The entire production is a strange one though – not quite a sequel, not quite a follow-up, but certainly motivated by Marvel Studio's desire to revitalize their character and to restore the Hulk's reputation after the previous failure. The result is a film which ostensibly ignores its five year senior brother and goes in medias res into Bruce Banner's life as a tormented refugee in Brazil eager to find a 'cure' for his 'condition'. The setup is a clever and intriguing one, and so is the casting of the talented Edward Norton as Bruce Banner. Through him, the film has a dramatic backbone to which it returns for blood transfusions between the flares.
Unfortunately, the flares are, predictably, predictable. Firstly, there is no characterological link between Banner and The Hulk which can transfer our sympathy from Banner, who we learn to know, and The Hulk, who we just recognize as a type. And the type is disappointingly unsubtle, both visually and thematically. As realized here, with his King Kongish roars and antics, it feels very much as if though the Hulk character is dated. I would argue that the only artistic argument for bringing The Hulk to life in 2008 is the CGI possibilities. As an object of fascination or scare, the idea of the Hulk belongs way back in the 20th century and will probably only be of interest to nostalgics. And that ridiculous, 'trendy' cliffhanger finale is an insult to the movie ticket.