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  Incredible Hulk, The Anger Management
Year: 2008
Director: Louis Leterrier
Stars: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell, Christina Cabot, Peter Mensah, Lou Ferrigno, Paul Soles, Débora Nascimento, Pédro Salvin, Martin Starr, Michael K. Williams, Genelle Williams, Robert Downey Jr, Stan Lee
Genre: Action, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Dr Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) is a fugitive since one of his experiments to enhance his body went horribly wrong. The results were that whenever he gets angry or overexcited, a transformation occurs, turning a mild-mannered scientist into a towering, green force of violence, something that makes him very interesting to the American military authorities. Now he is hiding out in Brazil where he has a job at a soft drinks bottling plant as he tries to quell the raging beast that dwells within him using specialised techniques - but some people simply won't let him lie...

After Ang Lee's Hulk was regarded as a flop, both financially and artistically, Marvel Comics swiftly ordered up a fresh interpretation of the famous monster which they hoped would satisfy both the public at the box office and the fans who would be watching it for years to come. Scripted by Zak Penn, it was not really a sequel, although it begins in a similar way that the previous film left off with Banner on the run in South America and the military trying to hunt him down after five years. The manner in which they find him - some of his blood gets into one of the drinks which is consumed by Stan Lee - is not enough to lead to his capture.

Although you do wonder what kind of effects that drink had on Stan, it's never expanded upon. On with Bruce's story then, and director Louis Leterrier, a far less arty choice than Ang Lee, is keen to keep his mean green smashing machine in the shadows for the initial half hour, as if we didn't know what Banner was changed into. Among those after him are Major Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), who is amazed at the capabilities of the Hulk, and this puts an idea in his mind: could he be given the same properties as the creature if he went through a similar experiment?

Well, of course he could or the Hulk would have no one to beat up at the end of the film, but before we get to that stage there are strong hints of the pretentiousness of star Norton, who ensured that he would have a lot of say in how his character would be developed. So we get a lot of angst in the Banner scenes, and you can imagine we would get a lot more if the actor had had his way, but due to snappy editing the film does not get bogged down in Banner's "Why me?" dramatics and moves swiftly on from the character business to the more spectacular, and no less cartoonish-looking than the first film, action.

So maybe Norton has a point in offering the superhero a depth of personality, although really he's not much different to what you would see in an above-average werewolf movie. The Hulk is a curious type of hero anyway, they make certain not to make him threatening to the audience, and as depicted here he is the last thing the protagonist wants to be, with anything laudable he does tempered by, well, his bad temper which brings out the worst in anyone around him. Banner feels tremendous guilt over the destructive effects of his alter ego, especially when his girlfriend Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) was seriously injured by him, even if it wasn't intentional. Betty's father General Ross (William Hurt) is hot on his trail, and as you can't have the Beast without his Beauty for that classical contrast, Betty soon teams up with her ex in the hope that she can help him out. With a raft of references to earlier Hulk incarnations (Lou Ferrigno appears and provides the Hulk's roar, for example), the film could be accused of playing to the gallery, but it's light and enjoyable for all that. Music by Craig Armstrong.

[Universal's special edition double disc DVD is full of featurettes and has an audio commentary too.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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