(Hollywoodchicago.com) – Technology has done double-edged service and disservice to the legendary Hulk superhero character from Stan Lee’s Marvel Comics.

In peering at the CGI-created ripped body of nothing remotely reminiscent of Edward Norton, the 2008 film iteration of “The Incredible Hulk” has a leg light years up on Lou Ferrigno’s character in the 1978 television series of the “The Incredible Hulk”. Then, Ferrigno only had the luxury of makeup. The rest was the real deal.

On the other hand, Ferrigno – who treats 2008 audiences in a gasping reveal when he appears in a brief cameo in the new Louis Leterrier-directed feature film – is still the soul, spirit and most critically the face of the green-skinned behemoth.

Aside from Ferrigno’s brief face time, he also lurks notably in the background as Norton’s voice when the character gets royally pissed and transforms into the Hulk.

When Norton fumes past his human limit, honing in on the Hulk character’s technologically enhanced face is awkwardly unrealistic and utterly painful.

It’s like gazing into the eyes of the sea nymph Medusa whose monstrous face could threateningly turn onlookers to stone.

While Hollywood’s big-budget technology department both strikes out and smashes a homerun with its revamped and roided-up Hulk character, Tim Roth’s altered ego gets the just-right royal treatment.

When Roth becomes the Abomination to rival the Hulk, the abominable baddie is so disgustingly repulsive and out of such reality whack that his CGI renovation plays perfectly.

Like he did in all three “Spider-Man” films, various “X-Men” films and many other Marvel film products, Marvel phenom Stan Lee (the former chairman of Marvel Comics) again can’t help but pop in for his moment of minor screen glory.

Now Liv Tyler – who hasn’t memorably emerged in a film since 1998’s “Armageddon” – can finally be classified as the new Meg Ryan with her heartfelt delivery as Edward Norton’s young love.

While you felt sorry for the forgettable bloke who she swiftly casts aside when she’s suddenly reunited with Norton, suffice it to say they’ve got game together. Her chemistry especially for Norton is a surprisingly tender balance to the film’s mammoth smashing and outrageous carnage.

Norton himself is trademarked by his restraint. As he seeks a cure for the gamma radiation poisoning that periodically unleashes the barbarian, he works tirelessly on his Zen. He even scrutinizes the condition with a pulse-monitoring watch.

In particular, a near-sex scene between Norton and Tyler sheds comical light on the situation when his heart rate escalates and he’s forced to stop before something incredible pops up.

While 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk” delivers the heart-pounding, Hulk-smashing thrill ride audiences expect, the real story of the film is in its substory and how those trinkets will be ironed out in the future.

While Robert Downey Jr. is uncredited in the film, there’s an avenging reason to drop the nugget of a “super soldier serum,” Captain America and “getting the team together”. Indeed, this wild ride will carry on.

“The Incredible Hulk” opened everywhere on June 12, 2008.


© 2008 Adam Fendelman, HollywoodChicago.com