The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Director: Louis Leterrier
Writers: Zak Penn (screenplay), Zak Penn (screen story)
Stars: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth

Marvel’s second film (in what would become the MCU) definitely did not hit any of the right spots regarding either superhero’s or as a general standalone film. The normally reliable Leterrier (usually helped though to be fair by Luc Besson) and writer Penn (who should just stick to stories rather than the actual screenplay) dropped us a film that overall was what can only be described at best as average. Whether this was down to budget, time constraints, switching from Paramount to Universal, I’m not too sure but after the success of Iron Man, then this version of the Hulk certainly fell very flat indeed.

During the opening credits we see the experiment that turned the unfortunate David Banner (Norton) into a raging green monstrosity along with the devastation he can cause, especially those closest to him. We then switch to current times as we are informed he has gone one hundred and fifty-eight days without ‘incident’, which we assume to mean Bruce not going all green and crazy and then destroying a city block. Banner seems to have a measure of control over his alter-ego and is able to keep him at bay. Now living in the slums district of Rio de Janeiro he is hiding from the military who want to use him for their own nefarious devices.

While at his place of work (a soft drink bottling factory) a minor accident causes one of these bottles to be infected with Bruce’s gamma contaminated blood which just by sheer chance is destined to be shipped to the United States, compromising his current anonymity. Naturally the military find out about this and are quickly in hot pursuit of Banner which as I’m sure you can imagine, causes all sorts of mayhem for the military and those around them when Banner is eventually cornered and loses control. Emil Blonsky (Roth) is the man tasked with bringing Banner down under the command of General ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross (a great William Hurt as always).

And that is pretty much the crux and gist of this version of the Incredible Hulk. Many of the action scenes are lazy and predictable…its just chase…after chase…after chase. Who seriously though watching people run around panting would make for a good film? I’m sure as hell Marvel didn’t but hey, they commissioned this garbage which leads me to my opening statement. Sure the MCU was still in its infancy with this second film but it’s almost as if they chose not to take a big risk with it in case things did not pan out. Considering this came out in the same year as Iron Man the effects and CGI look terrible in comparison, especially Hulk himself.

The we get to the actual main cast. Now I’m not sure if it’s Norton and that I’ve never really been a fan of his, or that I’m just so indoctrinated with the late Bill Bixby being the character from when I was a kid but Norton just doesn’t do it for me at all. A good actor indeed in the right role but here he just seems lost, out of place and altogether wrong for the character. I think perhaps they wanted a big name to draw people in and ultimately Norton for me was just not up to the task. He doesn’t even really have the ‘look’ of someone supposedly in his field which is difficult to explain I suppose, he just seems like he should have been a coffee shop owner, not a nuclear physicist.

Tim Roth for me is also incredibly weak and looks out of place, like a deer caught in the beam of a cars headlights. And I’m sure that was not good acting with a CGI Hulk, he just permanently appears to be wondering what the hell he is doing in this movie. Likewise as his own alter-ego, he has far too little screen time to actually make his grand entrance anything other than more chase filler. As for Liv Tyler, she is just, well, Liv Tyler really and I don’t think that needs any further explanation. Thankfully she only has one real kiss scene which I’m sure is the same one she uses for every film she is in. Lovely girl, reasonable actress, just always a little bland.

There are also some incredibly ridiculous plot moments and inconsistencies too. I shall not go in to any real detail but suffice to say at times (even for a comic book movie) I was left thinking ‘what the actual’ as the film rolled before my eyes. So is there actually anything good about The Incredible Hulk? The only two redeemable features that immediately spring to mind are the great Lou Ferigno in a security guard cameo role (and it’s always great to see the man, he is just awesome) and some of the background music. It says a lot when the highlight of the film for me was seeing Banner walking in the rain along the side of the road with closing credits theme tune from the old television series. Lovely nod to the past.

So with that there really is not a lot more than can be said about this film. As stated previously, average at best for a either a general film or a superhero film. Not terribly exciting and very predictable. Norton was subsequently replaced and rarely that the events of this film are referenced later on in the universe says much. For a fan of the series then it’s sure to be watched, but you will forget about it as quickly as the rest of the MCU seems to have done. Very below par for what Marvel is actually capable of.


The Sage’s Rating:

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