It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"The Incredible Hulk" is no doubt an ideal version of the Hulk saga for those who found Ang Lee's "Hulk" (2003) too talky, or dare I say, too thoughtful. But not for me. It sidesteps the intriguing aspects of Hulkdom and spends way too much time in, dare I say, noisy and mindless action sequences. By the time the Incredible Hulk had completed his hulk-on-hulk showdown with the Incredible Blonsky, I had been using my Timex with the illuminated dial way too often.
Consider the dilemma of creating a story about the Hulk, who is one of the lesser creatures in the Marvel Comics stable. You're dealing with two different characters: Mild-mannered scientist Dr. Bruce Banner, and the rampaging, destructive Hulk, who goes into frenzies of aggression whenever he's annoyed, which is frequently, because the Army is usually unloading automatic weapons into him. There is even the interesting question of whether Dr. Banner is really conscious inside the Hulk. In the Ang Lee version, he was, more or less, and confessed to Betty Ross: "When it happens, when it comes over me, when I totally lose control ... I like it." In this version by Louis Leterrier, the best Banner (Edward Norton) can come up with is that being the Hulk is like a hyperthyroid acid trip, and all he can remember are fragments of moments.
It's obvious that the real story is the tragedy that Banner faces because of the Hulk-inducing substance in his blood. But if Banner never turned into the Hulk, nobody would ever make a movie about him. And if the Hulk were never Banner, he would be like Godzilla, who tears things up real good but is otherwise, dare I say, one-dimensional.
The Ang Lee version was rather brilliant in the way it turned the Hulk story into matching sets of parent-child conflicts: Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly) was appalled by her father, the general (Sam Elliott), and Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) suffered at the hands of his father, a scientist who originally created the Hulk genes and passed them along to his child. (Nick Nolte had nice scenes as the elder Dr. Banner.)