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Review: The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Directed by: Louis Leterrier 

Premise: An adaptation of the Marvel comic book hero. After a military science experiment goes bad, Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) suffers from a condition that turns him into a giant green monster with anger management problems. Banner flees the military while trying to find a cure for his condition.

What Works: The Incredible Hulk is an ambitious reboot of the franchise. Like Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk differentiates itself from other comic book films by adding humor and giving the character more human dimensions both physically and emotionally. Edward Norton does a nice job as the conflicted Bruce Banner and the film benefits from casting such a quality actor in the role. The special effects are very well done, especially in the big finale between The Hulk and Abomination. Marvel comic book fans will find a lot to enjoy here, as there are plenty of allusions to other incarnations of The Hulk and to other Marvel superheroes.

What Doesn’t: The Incredible Hulk is inherently handicapped by its subject. The Hulk just isn’t that interesting of a character. He’s big and mean like Godzilla but has less personality than King Kong; there’s a lot of muscle but very little soul once Norton is replaced by the computer-generated monster. The film suffers from first chapter syndrome; it spends a lot of its time setting up characters and themes that will play out in sequels but not nearly enough on its own story. The romance between Norton’s character and a scientist played by Liv Tyler does not put either one of them through much heartache and the film misses opportunities to link the rage of the Hulk to Banner’s human identity. When the film finally gets to its Wrestlemania finale, it’s a lot of property damage similar to what has been seen in Transformers, Iron Man, and Spider-Man 3 and like those films its all very plastic with very little narrative or emotional weight.

Bottom Line: The Incredible Hulk is a mid-range comic book adaptation. The film is certainly not a disaster, but the story and characters are a little on the thin side and the conclusion is very cliché.

Episode: #194 (June 22, 2008)