More noise, less soul

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 June, 2008, 12:00am

The new version of the angry green man is visually arresting but lacks substance

After Ang Lee's 2003 Hulk failed to light up the box office, the rebooted version of the Marvel comic standard The Incredible Hulk is a standard popcorn movie packed with swashbuckling action and spectacular visuals.

The movie stars Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, a scientist who, having been exposed to gamma radiation, turns into a giant, raging green monster known as the Hulk when he gets angry or stressed.

Banner is a fugitive in a slum area of Brazil, evading the US military led by General Ross (William Hurt), who heads the Gamma Bomb project and wants to experiment with Banner's blood to create an army of super soldiers.

Literally a man on the run, he moves from one place to another, sometimes transforming into the Hulk when he gets too excited by the chase and decides to crush the bones of his tormentors.

Eager to find a cure, Banner returns to his hometown, reunites with his scientist sweetheart Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) and finds himself face-to-face with the Abomination (Tim Roth), a past-his-prime soldier who mutates into another equally angry but uglier monster after Ross gives him the same serum that created the Hulk.

Needless to say, The Incredible Hulk is a movie populated by angry Frankensteins. Instead of throwing furniture or kitchen utensils to vent their anger like any normal human being, the mutated characters tear apart houses, smash cars and chop up helicopters. Theirs are outbursts of emotions on the same epic scale as those of King Kong.

You get the feeling that anger and stress - coupled with gamma radiation - are hazardous to one's health. When Betty's new boyfriend turns out to be a psychologist, you expect the film to offer lessons on anger management via a bizarre love triangle.

But this is where this movie fails as anything more than an action flick. Compared to Lee's adaptation, where the director attempted to dissect his characters' emotions, director Louis Leterrier is happy to stuff the movie with as many video-game graphics and special effects as possible.

Despite being about raging men and women (even the relatively gentle Bess loses all reason and screams at a cab driver in one hilarious scene), The Incredible Hulk is surprisingly emotionless. You get the sense that the filmmakers and actors are just going through the motions to entertain, rather than trying to create something special.

The Incredible Hulk is faultless as a potential summer blockbuster. Yet no amount of spectacle can replace a single spark of creativity. Though considerably bigger and louder, The Incredible Hulk - lacking heart and soul - is much less incredible than Hulk.

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