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The Incredible Hulk (Widescreen)

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Marvel Studios hits another home run with this highly satisfying revamp of their big green gamma gargantuan in The Incredible Hulk, a superhero romp that delivers solid dramatics when it's not rousing the audience with heavy doses of rock-'em sock-'em action. Taking cues from the Bill Bixby television show proved to be a smart move by the filmmaking trio of screenwriter Zak Penn, director Louis Leterrier, and star (along with uncredited script doctor) Edward Norton. Going back to Bruce Banner's on-the-run storyline successfully gives the film an immediacy that plays well into Leterrier's deft delivery of suspenseful set pieces. Another angle that plays well is the film's scope and use of location -- from the impressive Brazilian locales to the dreamlike pollen-filled air of early summer in Virginia, the size, color, and overall feel couldn't be more refreshing after the arid surroundings that housed Ang Lee's monster with daddy issues in the desert outing. As a revitalization of the franchise, the revamp works from minute one. Smartly, the studio once again put its trust in some gutsy casting, populating the film with sufficient talent that leaves the awkward days of Ben Affleck and Jessica Alba in the dust.The similarities between the production and its equally successful 2008 cinematic cousin, Iron Man, are evident in the casts alone. Just as Jeff Bridges lent an air of respectability to that picture as the heavy, so here does William Hurt in the role of General Ross, the war-mongering father to the film's love interest, Betty Rossa (capably played by Liv Tyler). Aiding him is Tim Roth, who, as viewers have seen in the past (most notably in Rob Roy), exceeds at being a dastardly counterbalance of the protagonist -- in whom we're handed a curious but inspired choice in Norton. The actor brings a nice gravity to the role of Bruce Banner, a character whose battles with self-control greatly figures into the crux of this performance. Never straying too far into melodrama, with bits of humor spread throughout (thanks to a welcome key role from none other than Tim Blake Nelson), the cast of The Incredible Hulk strikes a unique tonal balance all their own and manages to sustain a valid take on the material over the course of the nearly two-hour time frame.As for the main monster himself, he's handled very much in a smart way -- mysterious at first, then taking center stage as the two-fisted misunderstood hero later on in the pic. Effects-wise, the green beast is a vivid onscreen presence hampered only by a scant amount of far-too-fast movements, which in its defense, hampers most of his other effects-driven contemporaries around this time (i.e. Transformers). Otherwise, there are a handful of inspired performance-driven animated scenes at play here -- best seen in the softer moments that push the character beyond his patented "Hulk Smash" tagline. Thankfully the production knows that that is exactly what much of the audience is there for -- and it has no problem delivering the smashing scenes with gamma-radiated gusto. When it comes down to it, the film achieves what it set out to do -- successfully revive a character in such a familiar way that audiences don't get wrapped up in the semantics of whether it's a sequel, prequel, or doggone reinterpretation. This is the Hulk that everyone knows and loves -- and it's a pleasure to see him roar the way he's always been intended to. Jeremy Wheeler, All Movie Guide

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