REVIEW: The Incredible Hulk (2008)

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2008, Universal Pictures/Marvel Studios

Director:
Louis Leterrier
Producers:
Kevin Feige
Gale Anne Hurd
Avi Arad
Writers:
Zak Penn (screenplay)
Stan Lee (original characters)
Jack Kirby (original characters)
Cinematography:
Peter Menzies Jr.
Editing:
Rick Shaine
Vincent Tabaillon
John Wright

Cast:
Edward Norton (Bruce Banner/The Hulk)
Liv Tyler (Betty Ross)
Tim Roth (Emil Blonsky/The Abomination)
William Hurt (General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross)
Tim Blake Nelson (Dr. Samuel Sterns)
Ty Burrell (Dr. Leonard Samson)
Christina Cabot (Maj. Kathleen Sparr)
Peter Mensah (Gen. Joe Grellar)
Lou Ferrigno (Security Guard/Voice of the Hulk)
Stan Lee (Elderly Man)

After a disappointing attempt from the renowned director of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to bring the “big green” to life, leave it to the co-director of the original Transporter to bring a back to basics story of the rage-fueled monster and his alter ego.

After a gamma radiation experiment goes awry, Dr. Bruce Banner, in a moment of anger, transforms into a giant green monster, the Hulk. Wanted by the U.S. government, Banner has fled and eventually finds his home in Brazil. It’s been five months since his last transformation and Bruce has learned to control his anger through learning Brazilian Jiujitsu and finds a job at a soda bottling factory. However, one fateful day Bruce cuts his hand and his radiated blood lands in a bottle that is filled with soda. When the government has learned of Bruce’s location after an elderly man has drank the tainted soda, Bruce finds himself followed by Ross and his men, led by a Russian-born British agent named Emil Blonsky.

As Bruce hides out, he is confronted by three bullies from his job. As the bullies beat him down, Bruce transforms into the Hulk and goes after all the bullies and evades the government again. With nowhere else to turn to, Bruce heads to New York to reunite with Betty, his old girlfriend. He also plans to meet a mysterious man nicknamed “Mr. Blue”, who has been helping Bruce find a cure to the Hulk. However, Blonsky has plans to not only confront the Hulk, but trigger the use of his powers only to become something far worse. Will Bruce be able to finally accept his powers in order to stop the monster known as the Abomination?

From 1978 to 1982, the Marvel Comics character of The Incredible Hulk was a hit with bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno taking on the role of the monster who is born from the anger of the mild-mannered David Banner (re-named from Bruce Banner). In 2003, Ang Lee attempted to mesh the superhero film by bringing the Hulk to life and add a sense of a psychological thriller that fans weren’t exactly fond of. Flash forward five years later and we have a back to basics story that brings a sense of nostalgia with a story influenced by the series as well as a back to basics superhero action film.

Edward Norton does brilliantly in his portrayal of Bruce Banner, channeling the likes of Bill Bixby’s portrayal in the series and adding a touch of what makes Edward Norton a really good actor: his personality. Norton even has an uncredited role as a co-screenwriter of this very film, developing the character of Bruce Banner and staying true to how Bruce Banner has been seen in both the live action series and animated series.

Liv Tyler replaces Jennifer Connelly as Betty Ross and does really well in her role, making the role of playing both a damsel in distress as well as a strong woman who cares about Bruce. While it would be at least great to see Sam Elliott reprise the role of General Ross from the 2003 film, as he was one of that film’s pluses, William Hurt makes for an ample replacement. In fact, he recently reprised the role 8 years later in Captain America: Civil War. However, aside from Norton as Bruce Banner, Tim Roth really drives the film as well in the role of the villain Emil Blonsky. First, Blonsky is given the Super Soldier serum (although not called that…yet) in an attempt to match the Hulk but when that fails, he goes beyond that and becomes the evil Abomination.

The CGI effects of the Hulk and Abomination are actually not too bad for this version of the Hulk legend. Where the 2003 suffered in that the Hulk would get bigger and bigger as he got angrier, this Hulk version is actually not too bad in keeping a more permanent shape, with his eyes just glowing even more brighter when angry at times. Norton was originally set to reprise the role in 2012’s The Avengers, but after negotiations fell, Mark Ruffalo replaced him with what could be the best looking CGI Hulk to date as it actually looks like Ruffalo while NortonHulk has some resemblance but not as much as Ruffalo’s.

Nevertheless, The Incredible Hulk is a worthy entry that goes back to basics and even is influenced by the classic TV series. Look for an appearance in the final scene by a certain “iron man”.

WFG RATING: B

DVD/BLU-RAY

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