Many people know (not in this forum, but still) what I think of The Incredible Hulk Starring Edward Norton. Those who don't know, I will sum all up with one word: weak. While it still has some solid action scenes, which is what Hulk fans were waiting, i found that the story was a missed opportunity because of the underdeveloped characters and the fact it looked more like a sequel to Ang Lee's Hulk than a Reboot per se.
However, I had the PLEASURE to watch this fabulous Extended Edition. I must admit it, it's REALLY GOOD. Tomahawk has restored at least 30 minutes of deleted scenes for the movie, and while it doesn't seem like it, they help a lot the story and character development.
To begin with, this version doesn't have that horrible Title sequence where we see via fast Flashbacks Bruce Banner's Accident. The Fan Edit opens directly with the scene mentioned on The Avengers, where Bruce tries to commit suicide and Hulk spits the bullet. This allows the movie to have it's own identity and let the audience explore bit by bit what happened with Bruce and the Gamma radiation.
In other changes, we can see a significant improvement on the characters, like Bruce dealing with moral questioning about what he was made to do or the suffering he has, not only because he becomes a monster, but because he had to run away from home for so long time.
General Ross' motivation is more noticeable in this Fan Edit. His ambition for capturing Hulk's power and make it a weapon, even we can see he's a little bit nut, exploring a very important theme that in the original movie was underdeveloped: Power abuse. Also, in a little sub plot, we can see how General Ross works for someone superior to him, who doesn't approve what Ross has been doing to deal with Hulk.
We can also feel a little bit better the chemistry between Betty and Bruce, so the romantic aspect is this time better presented. Even Dr. Samson, Betty's boyfriend, has some interesting extra scenes to see instead of being left out of the movie and become a filler character who is not doing anything in the story. His character has a closure in the film. And the best part, some (little) plot holes are explained. Not exactly important, but welcome indeed.
So, why were these scenes removed? Well, it's obvious that in the process, many of this scenes make the story go slower. They compromise the pace, something the producers wanted to avoid to make the movie go faster and a little bit more fun to watch so it doesn't look like the original Hulk movie from 2003. But still, I believe some of the scenes should have been added because the original film lacks character development. Or at least, I don't connect with them. Some of this scenes are not exactly necessary after all because, as i said, they make the movie's pace go slower. Like the flower scene.
In other Aspects, I will give you an 8 on Audio Editing because some scenes had loud music and I had troubles to understand what were they saying. Everything else is seamless.
I've found a far superior job, and it's unbelievable to think that a Fan Edit could top the original film. The Incredible Hulk, which had a 3/5 in my opinion, has reached a 4/5. At least, this version. They should have done the movie like this. I wouldn't have complaint so much xD.
The essential aspect of Norton's screenplay wasn't that it was moving from one action set-piece to another, or one Hulk-out to the next; it was that it built up to each Hulk-out.
Tomahawk clearly understands this. By having a greater amount of screentime dedicated to each location, It really better shows Banner's motivation for ridding himself of the Hulk; whenever he gains something, the Hulk makes him lose it. Every little aspect of his routine and daily life is shown and established so we become invested in it. It means more when he Hulks out and we lose everything we've become invested in. We feel the loss of everything he vecomes invested in, for each location. When he's in Brazil, we become invested in his love for the girl because more screentime is dedicated to it. Thus, it means more when he loses it all because he has to leave when he Hulk's out.
By establishing more of a presence for each location's respective subplots, we become more invested in them and care more when Banner has to abandon them all because of the Hulk. It makes us more deeply empathize with his motivation to destroy it, as the constantly changing structure of the narrative mirrors the constantly changing structure of his life. It's as disorienting for us as it is for him.
By establishing more for Banner to lose, and consequentially greater stakes each time he risks Hulking out, we have a film that incites greater emotional investment from the audience.
First of all, let me say that this is one of the most satisfying MCU movies. Its dark instead of campy, and there is a gravitas to Norton's portrayal that is distinctly lacking with Ruffalo. I think that is more writing that acting ability, no dis to Mr Ruffalo. This edit takes that original great film and makes it even better. The only thing that holds it back is the video quality, but that is at least as much to do with being SD as it does with the edit itself. The inserted scenes are definitely rougher than the rest of the movie, being strangely brighter or in some cases sort of grey and desaturated. I know that those scenes were not finished to the same caliber as the rest of the film, and with that knowledge, the editor actually did a great job with them. It is a downside and one that I can't completely ignore. If someone were to made an HD recut with this as the blueprint it would be amazing, and a great example of what made the MCU great before Whedon and company made it a gag fest.
Tomahawk has done some incredible editing as I could barely notice where the new scenes were. Granted, it's been a long time since I've seen it, but the editing here is fantastic. The movie feels more complete and I can understand the characters than I ever did. I like the new opening and that it was referenced in The Avengers. And with the flashbacks now sprinkled throughout the film instead of being in the opening credits feels way more organic.
The added score at times was a little loud, but other than that, it was great. It flowed from one scene to the next without me noticing the cuts.
I watched this on a laptop on a plane so I didn't notice the SD quality as much as I would of on a TV, but it looked fine to me.
There are probably some small trims that could be done to make it better, but this is the definitive version for me now until myself or someone makes a fanfix. Its amazing how much was cut out that made a difference when put back in
I see this edit more as a proof-of-concept that there is a better movie within all the footage available for Incredible Hulk 08 than this being that better movie. Many of the scenes added enhance character development and make plot points clearer, but not all of them need to be included or included in their full form (much of the added Blonsky/General Ross footage sticks out in this way). The added scenes of Banner talking to "Mr. Blue" in Brazil also bother me since the restored footage has a different GUI on Banner's computer chat than the theatrical footage does, but that's probably minor.
All in all, I hope someone (maybe myself?) will one day tackle this film again using the structure of this edit as a guide to find an ideal "middle ground" between the too-short theatrical cut and this.