Title: The Incredible Hulk
Director: Louis Leterrier
Writer: Zak Penn (created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)
Distributed By: Universal Pictures
Starring: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, and William Hurt
Release Date: June 13th, 2008
After an experiment goes wrong, Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) turns into a green, mean menace of a monster known as the Hulk. He’s hunted down by the government, specifically General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt), father of Bruce’s one-time girlfriend Betty (Liv Tyler). However, after British Royal Marine Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) injects himself with Banner’s blood to become the unstoppable Abomination, the Hulk turns from hunted into the world’s last hope at stopping the Abomination.
We’re smashing our way through The Avengers roster at ComicAttack.net. While Iron Man proved that Marvel Studios was a force to be reckoned with, The Incredible Hulk solidified Marvel’s reputation, and more importantly confirmed that a Hulk sized event was coming our way.
Just like Marvel Studios’ other films, TIH proved that it had learned its lessons from superhero blockbuster failures, as well as the Hulk’s previous film, Ang Lee’s Hulk. It’s not like it was too tough for competent filmmakers to make a film better than Hulk. Hulk is the equivalent of Spider-Man 3, if SM3 had Peter Parker shooting up heroin with a dark, depressing overtone to a slow paced film. However, TIH really did make an effort to distance itself from Hulk.
For one thing, there’s no more depressing doom and gloom. TIH has a good mix between action and humor. It even has moments of drama, though they tend to feel a bit shallow.
Also, rather than taking a very long time to set things up like in Hulk, TIH jumps straight into the action. There’s a quick credit opening showing Bruce Banner’s origin, but that’s about as much intro as you’re going to get. This is a big double edged sword to the film. On one hand, this jumps right into the story and prevents the pacing from becoming painfully unbearable. On the other hand, since it doesn’t take the time to set things up, character relationships and our investment into the film isn’t as big as it could be. Although I wouldn’t want yet another origin film, it would be nice if they had taken the time to develop everything. However, between Lee’s slow, melodramatic film, and Leterrier’s action-packed blockbuster, I’ll definitely take the latter any day.
Stan Hulk. We're all screwed….
While Ang Lee’s Hulk certainly had a terrific ensemble, TIH‘s cast had better written characters with sharp enough dialog. Now, is this the best cast of characters in a Marvel movie? Not by a long shot. As stated before, the story doesn’t have as much development, and as a result the characters aren’t as engaging as they should be. With that being said, the characters are interesting enough and there isn’t too much to complain about.
Edward Norton does a good job as Bruce Banner. He’s believable in two ways. You can definitely believe him as the scientist type who started out scrawny. And at the same time, you can believe that he has the strength, wits, and nerve to get himself out of dangerous situations. It’s a shame that he isn’t coming back for The Avengers or any possible sequels.
Don't drop the soap, Bruce!
The supporting cast is also decent. Liv Tyler plays an empathetic (though sometimes annoying) Betty Ross, William Hurt gives a good authoritative role as General Ross without being over-the-top, and there’s even a small (perhaps too small) cameo by Lou Ferrigno (who also does Hulk’s voice). The one person I didn’t care for in this film was Tim Roth. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that he’s doing a bad job in this. It’s just that Blonsky isn’t that interesting of a villain. The Abomination might be as powerful as the Hulk, but there’s something lacking in style and character.
Spider-Man wants his powers back.
But it’s not just about the story. TIH has plenty of action. This is one of the cases where action is substance and fortunately, this is good substance. While they might get too over-the-top from time to time, the action is well crafted, tight, and does a fine balance with suspense, wham-bam, and style.
Most of this can be accredited to director Louis Leterrier. He pulls just about every cinematic trick out there. The difference between this and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, is that GR:SoV simply uses the camera/cinematic techniques just to use them, while TIH actually uses the technique with purpose. Best of all, Leterrier doesn’t suffer from SCS (Shaky Camera Syndrome).
The Hulk's greatest weakness…noise.
The Incredible Hulk may not be the best superhero film out there, but it’s superbly crafted, entertaining, and certainly worth its money. And if this is a taste of things to come, then I think we’re all going to be very happy fans walking out of The Avengers.