Movie Review

Film Review: The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk is a more focused and action packed film adaptation of the Marvel comic book involving Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) and his gamma eradiated, anger induced monster than Ang Lee’s Hulk (2003) and is almost as good as recently released Iron Man. While in Brazil at the beginning of The Incredible Hulk, the film might have even been as good as Batman Begins and was for a few sequences but then it backed away from that greatness during its CGI heavy climax, leaving realism and the human element behind.

The Incredible Hulk begins beautifully with a homage to the television show of the same name from the late 70’s that starred the late Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno (who makes a cameo in this film as he did in Hulk but this time he is given dialog). Something happens during this sequence that could have earned The Incredible Hulk an R-rating but the images were cut just right by Kyle Cooper to avoid it. It would benefit the viewer if they saw Iron Man first because there are many nods and winks to companies, organizations and characters from that film during the beginning and throughout the remainder of the film that will go unnoticed or seem insignificant otherwise.

While hiding out in Brazil, a mishap occurs at a soda bottling plant and General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, a former associate of Banner who is now hunting him, is alerted of Banner’s presence there. General Ross leaves to capture Banner with the aid of Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), who is on loan from Great Britain’s Special Forces.

While in Brazil, Banner studies the Martial Art of Aikido to control his anger and works at a factory where Martina (Debora Nascimento), a striking Brazilian day-laborer, has a crush on him. The crush is never spoken of; it’s all in Martina’s eyes. Would a woman of Martina’s facial quality actually be a day-laborer in a factory? I found it to be remote and extremely questionable but not outside the realm of plausibility. Banner doesn’t even notice Martina’s looks but that is understandable (for the sake of The Incredible Hulk’s eventual romantic sub-plot). Banner is in love with someone else by the name of Dr. Elizabeth “Betty” Ross (Liv Tyler).

After General Ross and Blonsky catch up with Banner in Brazil and Banner is subsequently chased across roof tops, we find out that Martina lives directly below Banner. I found this very curious. Banner works with a woman that has eyes for him, is easy on the eyes and lives directly below him and nothing has happened between them. The plausibility of this scenario gets stretched rather thin but thankfully there are bigger and more entertaining issues within The Incredible Hulk to keep the viewer’s mind occupied.

Emil Blonsky is the surprise of The Incredible Hulk. He is the eventual main antagonist to Banner, his foil. Blonsky is a soldier almost past his prime, who has denied promotion up to this point because he wants to remain in the field; he’s a fighter and will remain one for as long as he is able. Before long though, that ability will come to an end and Blonsky and General Ross are both aware that its onset has already begun. This is where the Super-Soldier serum comes into play. Comic book aficionados will recognize this concoction all to well for giving scrawny Steve Rogers aka Captain America his physique and physical abilities. When Hulk and Blonsky meet after Blonsky has “taken” the serum, the contents of that special sauce are responsible for one of the most entertaining hand-to-hand combat battle scenes I have witnessed in a film.

When Blonsky becomes the Abomination in the third act of The Incredible Hulk out of a growing power lust and desire to be the man he used to be, The Incredible Hulk loses part of its edge. Watching two CGI creatures duke it out is not as fun, breathless or as entertaining as watching a real human fight a CGI creature. Think Éowyn versus the Witch King’s Dragon at the end of the second act in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Both scenes are extremely cool and well done. Notwithstanding this hiccup, there are those special moments in The Incredible Hulk that enable it to stand at the upper epsilon of the films based on comic books. One involves Banner fixing a machine in a factory; another is when Betty Ross screams “DAD!”, while the remainders are those segments of The Incredible Hulk that I have previously alluded to.

Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk pays homage to its roots much like Rob Zombie did with his remake of Halloween, only with better results. Except for the title sequence and the montage imagery, all of The Incredible Hulk is a construct of screenwriters Zak Penn and Edward Norton’s mind. The Incredible Hulk is original and stands on its own two legs, a newborn that learned to run before it walked, unlike Ang Lee’s more metaphoric Hulk. The Incredible Hulk is a crowd pleaser, was designed to be so and delivers to both the purest and the novice.

Rating: 9/10

Soundtrack Review for The Incredible Hulk

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About the author

Rollo Tomasi

A Political Science and MBA grad who started FilmBook during an eCommerce B-School course in 2008. Cinema and TV addict. Former writer at Empire Movies, Blogcritics, and Alternative Film Guide. In addition to writing for FilmBook, he also edits the copy published on the website, manages its writing staff, manages the back-end operations, site finances, its social network accounts, and works with publicists, actors, and companies on press coverage and promotions. He has also created ProMovieBlogger.com and Trending Awards.com.

  • Nice recap. This was much improved from Ang Lee’s Hulk. I still would prefer two real men battling it out vs the CGI but it doesn’t look like the industry will ever head back to those Ferrigno-esque glory days.

    waywardjams last blog post..Hancock Explodes Box Office, Implodes Onscreen

  • Nice recap. This was much improved from Ang Lee’s Hulk. I still would prefer two real men battling it out vs the CGI but it doesn’t look like the industry will ever head back to those Ferrigno-esque glory days.

    waywardjams last blog post..Hancock Explodes Box Office, Implodes Onscreen

  • Thx.

    It wasn’t the CGIs fighting it out that I had a problem with (per se), I just felt no connection with them. Plus, why did Abomination start wrecking havoc in the middle of New York? There was no reason for it.

  • Thx.

    It wasn’t the CGIs fighting it out that I had a problem with (per se), I just felt no connection with them. Plus, why did Abomination start wrecking havoc in the middle of New York? There was no reason for it.

  • True. I guess it was the whole power-trip, augmented body = crazy mind. I’d have liked it to have been in a more open space than the dark and cramped city.
    Having the Hulk not look anything like Norton in the face didn’t help build connection either. It’d been nice and more human for Abomination to revert back to Emil after he got stomped. Remind audiences of his frailty and could have generated some sympathy for Hulk and his condition.

    Side note: They were in Harlem, yet it was the palest crowd of by-standers

    waywardjams last blog post..A Quickie: The Ruins

  • True. I guess it was the whole power-trip, augmented body = crazy mind. I’d have liked it to have been in a more open space than the dark and cramped city.
    Having the Hulk not look anything like Norton in the face didn’t help build connection either. It’d been nice and more human for Abomination to revert back to Emil after he got stomped. Remind audiences of his frailty and could have generated some sympathy for Hulk and his condition.

    Side note: They were in Harlem, yet it was the palest crowd of by-standers

    waywardjams last blog post..A Quickie: The Ruins

  • Lol. I guess Emil didn’t revert because he was still angry or the director thought audiences would connect with the two big guys. I didn’t maybe someone else did.
    And you’re right, The Hulk should have looked like Norton. I didn’t even catch that one.

  • Lol. I guess Emil didn’t revert because he was still angry or the director thought audiences would connect with the two big guys. I didn’t maybe someone else did.
    And you’re right, The Hulk should have looked like Norton. I didn’t even catch that one.

  • I wondered for a while if Norton was pissed b/c of the generic Hulk look, but I later heard it was because they didn’t give him writing credit.

    I figure he didn’t revert b/c it cost too much money to generate it. The world may never know the answer to these biting questions.

    waywardjams last blog post..A Quickie: The Ruins

  • I wondered for a while if Norton was pissed b/c of the generic Hulk look, but I later heard it was because they didn’t give him writing credit.

    I figure he didn’t revert b/c it cost too much money to generate it. The world may never know the answer to these biting questions.

    waywardjams last blog post..A Quickie: The Ruins

  • I heard the dispute was about the editing of the film. Norton was supposed to have editing rights as in addition to his writing duties. I read the studio didn’t want him to have a hand in the editing of the film.

  • I heard the dispute was about the editing of the film. Norton was supposed to have editing rights as in addition to his writing duties. I read the studio didn’t want him to have a hand in the editing of the film.

  • Editing huh? I’d have liked to see his take on it. Wonder if he would’ve ended it in the Canadian cabin.

    waywardjams last blog post..Thank God for Hellboy!

  • Editing huh? I’d have liked to see his take on it. Wonder if he would’ve ended it in the Canadian cabin.

    waywardjams last blog post..Thank God for Hellboy!

  • Captain America was in the film and was edited out.

  • Captain America was in the film and was edited out.

  • I wondered what happened to that cameo.

    waywardjams last blog post..Missed It By THAT Much!

  • I wondered what happened to that cameo.

    waywardjams last blog post..Missed It By THAT Much!

  • Banner goes to the North Pole to kill himself and Captain America stops him or talks him out of it. It will be on the DVD.

  • Banner goes to the North Pole to kill himself and Captain America stops him or talks him out of it. It will be on the DVD.

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