Kevin's Review: The Incredible Hulk - A Jolly Time with the Green Giant

June 13, 2008

With the high from Iron Man starting to wane, fans are anxiously awaiting their next fix promised by Marvel's second summer blockbuster in as many months, The Incredible Hulk. Add to that Ang Lee's 2003 attempt to bring the "angry man" to the big screen, widely perceived as half-baked and too mellow, and you have quite a hunger to sate. While Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man is the highest of quality, Ed Norton's Hulk is noticeably less refined, generating a rush that is far more fleeting, yet thrilling where it counts. Directed by Louis Leterrier (Transporter 2), The Incredible Hulk is as enjoyably loud, aggressive and FX-laden as the Hulk himself, but weak and subdued when it comes to the characters and story.

Though it might seem like a continuation of Ang Lee's film, The Incredible Hulk is not a sequel - even though the one ends where the other begins, in South America. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) is hiding out in a densely populated neighborhood of Brazil and working at a bottling plant, enjoying "158 days without incident." He wears a pulse monitor watch that lets him moderate his excitability, and he takes martial arts classes to help control his anger. Bruce is managing his condition, but he's also still trying to find a cure. A "Mr. Blue" gives Bruce advice and assistance across encrypted chats, until options run thin. Bruce must venture back to the States for research data, but not before he's located by General Ross' (William Hurt) men, led by the hungry dog of a soldier, Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth).

Edward Norton takes on the conflicted role of Bruce Banner in this latest CGI-filled take on The Incredible Hulk.The Incredible Hulk Review

The immediacy of the first encounter is an ode to true fans of the genre. Leterrier nixes any incessant foreplay and build up and in short time gives audiences the Hulk in all his enhanced CGI, destructive glory. Any questioning about the film's special effects are forcibly put to rest very early on in the film. The battles get better from there, both in scale and severity. The frequency of the conflicts, however, is one point where the film starts to feel winded. With the number of vehicles, men and weapons, it seems like Leterrier recruited an entire Army base and all of its contents. General Ross repeatedly sends in fleets, each suffering wild (but fun) decimation.

Blonsky, already superhuman in attitude and competitiveness, wants to step up to this "whole new level of weird," ultimately becoming what is fittingly labeled as an Abomination. The final battle finds Hulk and Abomination destroying city block after city block in one of most explosive CGI-dominated bouts ever to grace the big screen. When was last time you saw a character use a police car as boxing gloves?

Hulk and Emil Blonsky battle one-on-one throughout most of Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk.The Incredible Hulk Review

The film's over abundance of eye candy is great fun, but it provides little nourishment to the overall story. Consequently, the plot matures into something quite scrawny. With greats on board like William Hurt and Tim Roth, it's especially disappointing that these characters never get a chance to stretch and flex their skills. Norton obviously gets most of the space to show his emotional dexterity, and does so in fine fashion. More fitting than Eric Bana, Norton's turn as Bruce Banner is spot-on, effectively portraying the mousey, pragmatic scientist conflicted with and haunted by the destructive force inside him. Liv Tyler as Betty Ross, on the other hand, is one of the film's weakest elements. Both in her recent role in The Strangers and here, Tyler simply proves unable in dramatic roles and steps below Jennifer Connelly's representation in Ang Lee's film. The scenes between Norton and Tyler, though attempting to generate notes of comedy and affection, come out absolutely flat.

One of the biggest questions surrounding this project was how well the Hulk would be rendered, since the likes of Lou Ferrigno's stature just won't do in this day and age and with this character. Leterrier smashingly answers that question, but as a consequence keeps the film too much at the surface. If not for the immense success of Iron Man, we might not care as much. But even if the Hulk might be green with envy, Marvel is the one that deserves the incredible moniker for scoring its second major hit and quickly becoming one of the most formidable companies in Hollywood.

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I do not understand how any female actor could give a worse performance than Jennifer Connelly did in HULK.

Andrew Wickliffe on Jun 13, 2008


I don't understand your reviews. This gets an 8 while you gave The Happening a 7. I enjoy your posts but you state at the very beginning that the storyline is weak, "weak and subdued when it comes to the characters and story." How can you give it an 8 then? Is this just a fanboy gushing that all this is going to lead up to the Avengers in 11?

Tom on Jun 13, 2008


Awesome flick! Loved the story and execution of the plot. Director Louis Leterrier has proven he's to "The Hulk" what Jon Favreau is to "Iron Man". Even the subtle homage to the TV series was fitting. Norton was spot on. It was great to see Lou Ferrigno in fine form on the big screen. Stan Lee's cameo was a good one and Robert Downey Jr's was a surprise. Liv Tyler's Betty Ross was tougher than Connelly's. I think she did great. Hurt and Roth are two of the greatest, cold blooded villains to ever hit the screen. My only minor gripe was the effects. "The Hulk" appeared cartoonish in most scenes, unlike Ang Lee's version. The Abomination was a formidable villain and the a$$ kicking was great. I definitely loved this flick better than Ang Lee's version. This was the "Hulk" movie I've been wanting to see.

Spider on Jun 13, 2008


@3 -- Yeh, there's definitely some fanboy-ness creeping in 🙂 BUT, even though the characters and such were weak points of the Hulk, by nature of the flick, the action and adventure overshadows that a great deal. The story & characters don't tank it by any stretch. As for The Happening, that one is a totally different beast -- much more subtle characteristics and nuances to that film, and certainly not as good as the Hulk

kevin on Jun 13, 2008


I saw this yesterday on the previews, and i was looking forward to this. I agree with the sentiment that the storty and characters were subdued a little. I didnt get the feeling blonksy was "pissed off", or that Betty really hated the general. The Humour was interesting, didnt really click, althoght there werent that many people in the cinema at the time. I loved Ferigno and stan lee's, and RDJ cameos. Liv tyler didnre really do it for me, i seem to remember Jennifer connolly being a stronger betty. the first encounter was well done and really brought it home, keeping hulk in the shadows before he lets loose. The Action scenes were mind blowing, esp the final battle. My opinion, not as good as Iron Man, (MUCH BETTER than Ang lee's version)but still worth a look.

machernucha on Jun 13, 2008


I like that Bruce Banner is a fugitive and recluse looking for a cure to his 'disease' much like Harrison Ford was in "The Fugitive" rather than the scientist with daddy-issues. It feels more like a real story driven movie rather than a comic book adaptation.

The rocketboy on Jun 13, 2008


edward norton wanted the film to expand on the characters, but with the little disagreement with marvel, we ended up with this film. Any way at least its still an incredible film.

Darrin on Jun 13, 2008


The Story was just thrown together with glue and tape. The Action was awsome. Liv Tyler cannot act.

Tyler on Jun 13, 2008


I saw it last night at the midnight premiere and I loved it. If this was released 5 years ago instead of Ang Lee's take, we would have a Hulk trilogy by now with the second one being on par with the first and the third being a total mistake with too many villains.

Kail on Jun 13, 2008


I loved this movie and I have a thing for liv tyler I think she's a great actress lord of the rings elf chick hello I think she didn't know what to do with the character cus there isn't much refernce to betty in th hulk tv shows witch are classic but not very good and the comics she doesn't appear all that much well the ones I have anyway but all in all I think this movie kicked a$$ more actin then iron man and better delivery then those weak fantastic 4 movies

Brent on Jun 13, 2008


I saw the movie tonight, and I must say that it was totally kick-ass in my opinion. My blood is pumping. Here's my thoughts: I thought that Betty Ross was pretty good in both movies with both actresses. Ed Norton did a better job thatn Eric Bana. Both General Rosses were excellent, although I fancy William Hurt more. The Abomination was AWESOME. I liked the fact that Samuel Sterns and Doc Samson were in the movie, and I hope to see both of them superpowered in the sequel (not Avengers, just a Hulk sequel). Did you see the maniacal grin Sterns had in the last few seconds of his appearance? His brain was expanding! I think that Nelson was and will be a great Leader. HULK SMASH!!!!!! Need I say more? Lou Ferrigno was very funny.

Kyle on Jun 13, 2008


Liv Tyler = boring and bland. Ed Norton = Awesome and more awesome. Wish there had been a little more done with Gen. Ross though, I always liked him.

Hawkdragon on Jun 13, 2008


Wow!!!! This was so much better then we had anticipated.. we just got home from watching the movie and we were all so pleasantly suprised how much better this version was.. we are all can hardly wait for the next Marvel movies to come out.... Way to go Marvel... When does Captain America and Thor appear ????

Waiting for Avengers on Jun 15, 2008


Warning - FANBOY Comment Follows!!!!! Norton is perfect as Banner (not that Bana is not a good actor just not suited for the character) Tyler put in a decent turn considering she's really not the focus of the story remember? Hurt and Roth = Ultimate villians ( i think either or both deserve a turn as a Bond villian)(I think Hurt could easily pull off Mr. Sinister in Xmen but thats neither here nor there) the CGI? just pure testosterone driven awsomeness! Hulk v Abomination is among those great fight scenes of all time! Did anyone catch the subtle emergence of The Leader in Mr. Blue?

Cyfer1 on Jun 18, 2008


Comic fan but not expert. I just saw the movie last night. I was not impressed as I was with Iron Man. How could I be after seeing such a high level of dialog, story and graphics. Now there were reviews that one was kept from eating popcorn because of the action, but the action really seemed overly graphic and not anything different than say Call of Duty 4 or Halo 3. There were several times the movie was a little stale and I lost a few minutes worth of interest. I do believe that Liv Tyler really did not do very well as an actress as in most of her other movies as well. Sorry, but the lips do not make the movie. Need more emotion. General Thunderbolt was very stiff. Almost like he was trying to say a line with a stick up his you know what. Far different then Eisenhower on the Longest Day. I think that actor displayed a lot of good characteristics as a general would. Heck even Donald Sutherland and Morgan Freeman as Generals in Outbreak provided a much better result. All in all, when you really consider the movies length and the dialog, it was fairly short. Where as Iron Man trumped the Hulk in that aspect. The humor, two lines maybe that were smirks but not funny blow outs like Iron Man. Graphic wise, hulk sitting in the cavern was tremendous. The veins and arteries, the water on the skin was fantastic. The hulk Clap was great visually. Now the Hulk smash not so much. My wife not a comic fan at all did not know what it was other than a regular mini earthquake, not something you could visually see in the comics. Do not get me wrong I loved the movie. I thought the dialog was short, unhumorous and the acting was a little stiff for a Marvel movie. There are so many good dialogs in the comic and this fell short. I dont think I would see this again, but as a fan I will definitely own this on Blue Ray. My Wife's comment, a little better than I thought. She initially saw this as being overly cheesy and campy. I did like the S.H.I.E.L.D, Avenger, and Stan Lee's Cameo. I also like the original Hulk cameos on the Tube in Brazil and Lou as a guard. Good to see he still has arms larger than my thighs. Wow. Overall, good movie but I think a second movie really needs to improve on the performances of the actors and the dialog.

Bishopsring on Jun 19, 2008


I SO LOVE EDWARD NORTON!!!!!!!! will u marry me??? BEST PERFORMANCE EVER!!!!! lol

MGG032589 on Jun 19, 2008


I didn't saw it yet but I most definitely will...Still, I'm curious... Superman Returns gets out, general opinion is, let's say 4/5 stars...two years after, bunch of luzers start hitting bad comments on AICN...Wham! Returns is bad, bad movie... Ang Lee's Hulk? 4,5 stars in major magazines (Total Film, Empire), intelligent movie, not Begins-like, but still smart...Few years later? Hulk sucks, Incredible Hulk smashes! Don't get me wrong, but Incredible H. will be forgotten by tomorrow! At the end of this summer, TDK will be the only movie that gets in TOP 100 of all time...

m4st4 on Jun 20, 2008


'I SO LOVE EDWARD NORTON!!!!!!!! will u marry me??? BEST PERFORMANCE EVER!!!!! lol' This is what I'm talking about!!! Fight club, 25th hour, Generation X...Anyone?!?!? Fuck that shit...

m4st4 on Jun 20, 2008


ed norton was better in fight club than in the incredible hulk. but this fim was awesome. hulk smash to all.

Darrin on Jun 21, 2008


Incredible Hulk 2008 review: a response Critics of Hulk 2008 Wendy, I think you are both right and wrong about this movie. To be quite frank you've said some quite stupid things that really don't make sense when you look at the Hulk mythology. Stories are retold, mythologies much like in the jungian sense are archetypes, they are a repository of universal truths. Wendy I honestly believe what you are saying about this film has merit; however in other places your critique seems both trite, if not vacuous and perhaps as much as you accuse this film of being thoughtless in places, your criticisms strike one as both pedestrian, illogical and themselves rather brash considering the subject matter you are dealing with. Let’s start off with the accusation that the film is generic. How can a superhero movie be anything but generic? The super hero mythos, and particularly the Incredible Hulk mythology, is something that transcends its comic book incarnation. The Bruce Banner/ Incredible Hulk saga has appeared in various guises through out human history; as has the love story between Betty and Hulk. Why not just accuse Hulk of ripping off Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, or King Kong and Hulk ripping off Tarzan and Jane. Comics are simply the retelling of stories, very basic stories that are eternal truths of the human condition; they are elaborate tropes or metaphors, allegories for moral, tragic or psychic dilemmas, and obstacles that humans face. They are very much archetypal in the Jungian sense. Just like the Lex Luther character is the re-imagining of the Faustian dilemma, Hulk is also a modern day retelling of various mythic hero’s or anti-hero’s. So to say Betty and Hulk relationship is reminiscent of King Kong is just plain stupid, have you ever read the comic; it’s been that way for much longer than this movie. Oh and Hulk smashing up New York, what the hell do you expect him to do? I really don’t understand; have you read the comic? So why do I say there is some merit in what you’re saying, even though I lament if not positively regret any acknowledgement of agreement. Well the reason is while TIH is very entertaining it just leaves its self open to overly critical people like your self. Basically I put this down not to the creative team behind the project, but to the people who financed it and cut out no less than 70 minutes of the back story, just so as to rush to the action scenes. The problem with this is, many who went to watch this movie don’t have a prior investment in the character, so where I could see between the poorly edited hodge podge of scenes the potential for a really sensitive, engrossing and moving portrayal of the tragedy of Banner’s lonely tormented, existence, the film itself rushes to quickly through these points for some to really grasp Bruce Banners charm. Unfortunately in the shadow of the witty, quipping Tony Stark, Bruce’s on screen persona isn’t given quite enough time to develop. Having said that Ed Norton is just brilliant as the tortured alter ego to the Hulk, he really taps into the pathos, simple dignity of this tragic hero. Certainly injecting far more humanity into Banner than Bana’s rather phlegmatic approach. I wish we could have seen more of this performance. Another notable, but again underdeveloped character is Tim Roths Emil Blonsky. I’ve got to be honest I loved the Hulk comic growing up, but the one thing I always thought Hulk was missing was a decent villain. A brilliant villain for me is premised on two things 1, there has to be a level to which you understand or relate to the villain’s temptation by evil or malevolence and 2, none the less you have to understand why they must be stopped. Now characters like Lex Luther or The Joker are perfect examples of such villains; one immediately recognizes Lex Luther’s quest for ultimate knowledge as inherently human, or, one can relate to the mirthful twisted mind of the joker, who is just an extreme reaction to the equally insane and theatrical vigilantism of batman. But what about Abomination? How do you relate to a guy who wants to become a big mutant freak like Emil Blonsky? The truth is you can’t, but Tim Roth puts in such a good performance that by the end you see him as both cool and by some weird perverted logic actually relate to his quest for Hulks power. I really think he is the outstanding performance in the whole ensemble. Liv Tyler is under used but again in this role its not so much her acting that is outstanding, than the fact that Liv actually just inhabits important aspects Betty Ross, a certain maternal care, a child like kindness which resonates with her response to the Hulk and the chemistry with Ed Norton is quite refreshing. It’s not quite as ultra quippy and Hollywood as Ironman’s main romance, which gave it a level of heart felt realism. William Hurt’s performance as Thunderbolt Ross has its awkward moments, but nonetheless, again he manages to pull off a rather dastardly General, and even gets a laugh or shudder at his maniacal persona. Tim Blake Nelson does his best but his role really is awfully generic and I believe the let down of the whole piece. However luckily he’s not in it that much. The only other criticism I have of the film is the Tony Stark cameo. It just seems like an add on, rather than a really well throughout and integral part of the plot. All in all this is still one of the best comic-adaptations out there; much better performances than in the spider man or X-men series, far better than Ghost rider and fantastic four, perhaps not quite as consistent as Iron Man however it even outshines in places that much lauded and perhaps overrated movie, definitely not in the league of the Matrix, Blade, Batman Begins or V for Vendetta. However it does have better action scenes than the latter two, and, if we had seen the full movie rather than the studio execs “safe version”, well who knows?

bathulk on Jun 21, 2008


I vaguely remember in some comic book stories the Hulk was in control of his emotions and acted more civil when needed, even starts to talk properly there was a reason for this, but its been years since I read that stuff. So imagine the first few times when the Hulk comes "alive" everyone's trying to beat the crap out of him so his flight\fight emotions kickin and he chooses to fight. That what the Hulk does best and on the big screen it looks awesome. As time goes on Banner will try to control him hence the last scene of Norton's eyes turning green but he's smiling. So when the next film comes out there can be more depth in the character. Good adaptation from the comics and TV series. The more I think about it the more I liked Norton's take on Banner. He brought a loneliness\sadness to the character that was done well. Roth and Hurt again good acting for the story and Liv was not that bad haha. Hulk smashem up. 8.5/10

Paul on Jun 22, 2008

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