The Incredible Hulk (2008)
The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Genre: Superhero Running Time: 1 hr. 52 min.

Release Date: June 13th, 2008 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Louis Leterrier Actors: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell, Christina Cabot, Peter Mensah, Lou Ferrigno, Debora Nascimento

 


 

“T

he Incredible Hulk” is infinitely superior to the previous theatrical adaptation from 2003 – but that wasn’t difficult to achieve in the slightest. Although the film has a surfeit of action and battle sequences (involving more devastation than this year’s “Cloverfield”), Louis Leterrier’s version of this Marvel entity is little more than a King Kong. An insipid love story, predictable villains, and jargon-drenched blabber don’t help the mighty green giant from becoming anything more than a boilerplate superhero. At least the attention to seriousness is comparable to Christopher Nolan’s re-imagining of Batman – though this champion is far less easier to accept.

Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) has accidentally unleashed a gamma poisoning mutation within himself that causes his body to transform into a hulking green monstrosity. Unable to control the raging Hulk, which is summoned by his anger, he hides away from the world in the crowded favelas of Brazil. While there, he converses regularly with the mysterious Mr. Blue through an encrypted satellite connection, in the hopes of learning the secret to removing the contamination from his body.

Meanwhile, General Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) diligently scours the globe looking for the elusive Banner, whom he tricked into experimenting with the radiation for use as a military weapon. The General’s daughter, Betsy (Liv Tyler), is still in love with Bruce, but she knows he keeps his distance to prevent hurting her or causing the deaths of innocent people. To help with the manhunt is Russian professional tough guy Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), on loan from the Royal Marines. But after witnessing Banner’s unbridled powers as the Hulk, Blonsky desires such abnormal invincibility for himself – leading to further freakish experimentations that will unleash a new abomination.

The opening title sequence for “The Incredible Hulk” rapidly sums up the entire Hulk origin, thereby leaving the brunt of the film to serve merely as an episode of adventure. The General occasionally fills viewers in on missing pieces of integral information, but for the most part, this film could work as both a remake and a continuation (a retcon, in comic fandom) of Ang Lee’s “Hulk.” Not having much to live up to, “The Incredible Hulk” easily outperforms its predecessor, but not to the point of undeniable success. In an age where comic book movie adaptations are no longer once-a-year or out of the ordinary, this latest attempt is a stale, humdrum event in line with so many others. The special effects are better, the editing is certainly more tolerable, and the characters are handled with more sincerity and seriousness, but the story is frightfully familiar and entirely uncompelling.

Attempting to create reason behind unexplainable elements such as the Hulk’s ability to keep his pants on (which is both impossible, completely unnecessary for fans, and an area of jest ever since the comics), the film temporarily forgets that it is still leaps and bounds from being even marginally reasonable. It does successfully distract with “Independence Day”-rivaling destruction at Culver University and New York City, while the Hulk-Abomination fracases are magnificently constructed and shot. Plus, the Hulk doesn’t defy gravity or fly around like Lee’s former version, even though his movements are occasionally still too light and graceful for his tree-stump figure.

Director Letterier manages to make a darker, more violent, and more serious Hulk, which is rapidly becoming a trend in the subgenre to combat the colorful, child-friendly fare that disappoints at the box office. And the references to other Marvel creations, the expected cameos, and over-the-top action remains. But despite crafting a superior Hulk, the story and overall entertainment value can’t compete with the deluge of other superhero movies that muster a greater degree of both creativity and heart (such as the Iron Man and Batman franchises, which arrive in theaters far faster and routinely than ever before).

– Mike Massie

  • 5/10