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The Incredible Hulk (**)
directed by Louis Leterrier
written by Zak Penn, based on comic books by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Gil Kane
Principal Cast
Edward Norton -- Bruce Banner
Liv Tyler -- Betty Ross
Tim Roth -- Emil Blonsky
Tim Blake Nelson -- Samuel Sterns
Ty Burrell -- Dr. Samson
William Hurt -- Gen. Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross
Christina Cabot -- Major Kathleen 'Kat' Sparr
Peter Mensah -- General Joe Greller
Lou Ferrigno -- Voice of The Incredible Hulk / Security Guard
Paul Soles -- Stanley
Débora Nascimento -- Martina
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

The Incredible Hulk The Incredible Hulk is a moderately entertaining, by-the-numbers, semi-sequel to Ang Lee's Hulk, lacking the exciting directing but also the murky storytelling of the earlier flick. It is very loosely based on the Hulk stories in Tales to Astonish #90 and #91 (April and May 1967), "The Abomination" and "Whoever Harms the Hulk," by Stan Lee and Gil Kane. But it is Jack Kirby, not Gil Kane, who gets screen credit.

Zak Penn is a good writer. He's written The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, and the underrated The Last Action Hero. He will be writing Captain America and The Avengers. I have the impression that, here, he was told to keep it simple, and as different from Ang Lee as possible.

The plot is as follows: General Thunderbolt Ross tries to capture The Hulk, but unwittingly creates the Abomination. Mayhem ensues. There are three big fight scenes, one near the beginning, one in the middle, and one at the end. There are a few cute moments and in jokes (purple stretch pants), and even a few touching character moments, as in the scene between Betty Ross and The Hulk during the thunderstorm. The acting and special effects are of the generally high quality we have come to expect from a big-budget superhero movie. It's an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

There are cameos by Marvel characters Doc Sampson and Tony Stark. Lou Ferrigno does the voice of The Hulk (good choice!), and reprises his role as a security guard from the Ang Lee film.

General Thunderbolt Ross is played by William Hurt, which is an extreme example of casting against type. I didn't recognize him at first -- the makeup is good -- so the first time he used that soft voice of his, I thought it was just good acting. After a while, though, the character becomes less and less convincing. William Hurt is a great actor, but a gentle soul, while Thunderbolt Ross is short-sighted and hot-tempered. Hurt can play a short-sighted, hot-tempered character, but on his best day, his short-sighted, hot-tempered character is still a Democrat. General Thunderbolt Ross is nothing if not a staunch Republican.

The credit cookie comes before the credits begin to roll.

Copyright © 2008 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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