Movie Review for The Incredible Hulk (2008)

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Review #650 of 365
Movie Review of The Incredible Hulk (2008) [PG-13] 114 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $12.50
Where Viewed: United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, Denver, CO
When Seen: 13 June 2008
Time: 12:01 am
DVD Release Date: 14 October 2008 (click date to purchase or pre-order)
After the Credits: There is nothing after the credits.
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer

Soundtrack: order the CD below

Directed by: Louis Leterrier (Transporter 2)
Screenplay by: Zak Penn (The Grand) • Edward Norton (debut) based on the Comic Book by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Edward Norton (The Painted Veil) • Liv Tyler (The Strangers) • Tim Roth (Funny Games) • Tim Blake Nelson (The Astronaut Farmer) • Ty Burrell (National Treasure: Book of Secrets) • William Hurt (Into the Wild) • Christina Cabot (Down in the Valley) • Peter Mensah (300) • Lou Ferrigno (Hulk)

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With sufficient homage to satisfy almost any ardent fan-boy of The Incredible Hulk, the new film, sprung from out of nowhere and begging the question "Why another one?" when Ang Lee attempted, most felt badly, the last translation of the bulky green behemoth from comic book page to CGI animated superhero, Director Louis Leterrier and Executive Producer and Incredible Hulk originator Stan Lee (with requisite cameo) unleash this new interpretation with Edward Norton both as co-writer and as Bruce Banner plus a killer cameo at the end that speaks to a larger 'Avenger Team' of films being built from the House of Marvel. Contrasting with so many superhero films of late, the creation of the gamma-ray-induced Hulk inside Dr. Bruce Banner and his subsequent quest to learn to control his rage and tame the beast inside him are set up in the opening credits leaving the rest of the film's running time for even greater conflict. On the one hand, Banner, now working in a soda pop factory in Rio strives both to achieve mental control of his heart rate and to find a cure for his affliction, on the other hand, General Gen. Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross (William Hurt), wants to locate and capture him to turn the biotechnology that created him into a super soldier weapon. In the middle, as always, is Bruce's love interest Dr. Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) and daughter of General Ross who, despite finding a new boyfriend after Bruce disappeared, still pines away for her tragic hero she believes is lost and gone forever. A physical accident at the soda pop factory involving Bruce being cut, unfortunately, creates a trail that allows General Ross to track his whereabouts and send in an elite team led by the blood thirsty, Russian born, British raised soldier Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) to subdue and capture him. Despite all his efforts to learn to control the raging beast within and subsequent transformation into the Hulk, eventually Blonsky's team corners him and learns quickly to regret such uninformed confrontation. All, that is, but for Blonsky who, instead, develops a thirst for revenge and sets up the logical finale whereby he will be changed, bit by bit, into a being like Bruce so he can "level the playing field".

Whether it's because this is only the umpteenth time we've seen the Incredible Hulk story or just the logical elements of the story itself, there's nearly nothing about this King Kong-esque film that's not imminently predictable even the New York City, "Rampage-the video game" final battle. Yet, even though you can see almost every step coming, there's something more artful and daring in the way the moments unfold and in the more tender and loving portrayal of the Hulk by the brilliant Edward Norton. It's easy to see why he wanted this tormented role even though he has to surrender certain screen time to his amazingly synthesized, CGI counterpart.

…more artful and daring…
Unlike the TV show version, in which Bill Bixby had Lou Ferrigno to play his alter ego, Mr. Norton gets a giant, somewhat fluorescent, green, CGI character instead whom he endows with life via motion capture animation. The animators have left no green crinkle unturned as they've rendered him just as carefully as those involved in the creation of King Kong for Peter Jackson's remake. It's amazing to see how far the technology has come when just comparing this Hulk to Ang Lee's. Likewise, though coming across as a bit over-zealous or over-eager at first, Tim Roth stands forth as a completely believable Emil Blonsky who, through a series of bad decisions/serum injections and hunger for the power of the Hulk himself, eventually morphs into a character based on the comic book Hulk villain, The Abomination. The only weak link in this film, unfortunately, comes from an oddly uneven performance by William Hurt who seems to suffer a bit from the same stuff as did Jeff Bridges in Iron Man. He's just a bit too callous, villainous, and anti-humanity to seem real. The result is a caricature villain who seems to lack obvious motivation—why is he so willing to sacrifice everything including his own daughter for this pursuit? Maybe that's what Stan Lee wanted: lifelike superheroes and cartoonish villains. Liv Tyler is typically pouty and occasionally a little over the top in her performance. Nonetheless, her Betty Ross has real chemistry with Bruce Banner, adding another dimension to this superhero story that many others, with the exception of Spider-man, have lacked.

Marvel Comic fans will be thrilled to see a special cameo (see spoiler if you cannot wait) setting up the elements necessary for an "Avenger Team" super film down the road. Likewise, far fewer Incredible Hulk fans will be disappointed by this version of the story, not really a sequel but more of a reboot, than were with Ang Lee's creation—in fairness, he was probably the wrong director for the wrong script at the wrong time. The film, however, is not quite the cathartic, superhero masterpiece that remains one of the best films of the first half of 2008 and best superhero film since Spider-man that is Iron Man.

…this version of The Incredible Hulk has borrowed, perhaps, too much from the genre to bear the label, "Incredible", though it's certainly more 'credible'.
The combination of rotten apple turned superhero overlapping with Robert Downey Jrs's personal life story, proved a potent punch which, ironically, the more gifted Edward Norton cannot be expected to match. There's also a familiarity to the set up of Bruce Banner's approach that's too reminiscent of another famous superhero Bruce, that of course, being one with the last name of Wayne as imagined in Batman Begins. The darker tone Louis Leterrier wanted for his Incredible Hulk also seems classically borrowed from the Batman reboot. For all the ways it tries to go out on its own, unfortunately, this version of The Incredible Hulk has borrowed, perhaps, too much from the genre to bear the label, "Incredible", though it's certainly more 'credible'.

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Other Projects Featuring The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Cast Members
Edward NortonLiv TylerTim Roth
Tim Blake NelsonTy BurrellWilliam Hurt
Christina CabotPeter MensahLou Ferrigno
Louis Leterrier
Zak PennEdward Norton
CD Soundtrack
Video Games

All Things Incredible Hulk at

Review-lite The Incredible Hulk (2008) [max of 150 words]
More artful, daring, and decidedly dark, this reboot of the Incredible Hulk directed by Louis Leterrier and co-written by Bruce Banner actor Edward Norton features a more developed storyline but unfortunately also a more predictable one whereby The Incredible Hulk must battle an enemy, the morphed version of Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), in a very King Kong-esque series of scenes taking place in Manhattan. Liv Tyler takes the role of Betty Ross, and William Hurt dismantles the usefulness and motivation of Gen. Thaddeus Ross. Not quite Iron Man, the film, however, leaps largely over its predecessor looking to fulfill Incredible Hulk fans' hopes for a worthy, big screen adaptation.

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