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Starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler. Tim Roth and William Hurt. Directed by Louis Leterrier..
Running Time: 112 mins
Rated: Rated M (intense action violence)
Based on the Marvellous Marvel comic Scientist Bruce Banner (Norton) is desperately hunting for a cure to the gamma radiation that poisoned his cells and unleashes the unbridled force of rage within him: The Hulk. Banner has been living in the shadows-cut off from a life and the woman he loves, Dr. Elizabeth "Betty' Ross (Tyler). Living as a fugitive to avoid the obsessive pursuit of his nemesis, General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt' Ross (Hurt), he knows that a military machine seeking to capture him and brutally exploit his power is always only a few steps behind.

As all three grapple with the secrets that led to The Hulk's creation, they are confronted with a vicious new adversary known as The Abomination (Roth), a monstrosity whose destructive strength exceeds even The Hulk's own. And to defeat this nemesis, one scientist must make an agonizing final choice: accept a peaceful life as Bruce Banner or find heroism in the creature he holds inside The Incredible Hulk.

All up, so far, there have been six films or television programmes dedicated to this much-loved Marvel comic character. To my mind the 1978 television series was the most effective probably because our eyes were not so well trained to enjoy the dazzling CGI and special effects to which we have now become accustomed.

This version of the hulk is much better than Ang Lee and Eric Bana's laboured effort in 2003, but that is not saying much. This Incredible Hulk does not work well enough to be super action entertainment.

The problem is not with the excellence of the filmmakers. This is a very expensive and assured piece. The problem lies in the storyline. Unlike most of the other Marvel characters, where it is easier to suspend disbelief, the Hulk is an unreal character in a very real world.

And maybe with the present debate around genetic engineering, scientific experimentation and a seeming ethic of "if we can do it we should do it', the premise upon which the Hulk is based is not unreal enough anymore. It might be prophetic.
Whatever of that, this film is very loud a little and too episodic. We get a character development scene followed by a showdown scene with monotonous regularity. The bloodless action violence will disturb some viewers.

This time the Hulk's competition turns up. But did the The Abomination have to be English-born, and when he turns into his version of the Hulk, did he have to look disabled? Hollywood films enjoy portraying really evil characters as English, disabled or homosexual.

There are some good touches of humour in The Incredible Hulk, which enables us to see that the filmmakers are not taking it all too seriously. Best of among these moments is when the 1978 Hulk, Louis Ferringo, reprises his security guard role from the 2003 film. In the last five years Officer Ferringo has moved from Berkeley California to Washington DC. And having Robert Downey Jnr. in a cameo at the end as Iron Man's alter ego Tony Stark, may be a promise or a threat, depending on your point of view.

Out June 19 Village Roadshow

Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the Director of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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