There are things missing from “The Incredible Hulk”. While there are definitely things I have always enjoyed about the movie, I simply could never call it, well, “incredible”
The story of “The Hulk” is definitely problematic. It is a modern Jekyll and Hyde tale, and you can be forgiven for not feeling a huge amount of empathy for anyone arrogant enough to experiment on themselves with super-soldier serum. Thankfully, the origin story is covered in the credits sequence and we get to instead see a Bruce Banner who is simply trying to live without getting anyone hurt. He is attempting to learn some form of martial arts meditation and hiding away from a military that would definitely want to do more experiments with him. Of course, he would love a cure, and that desire brings him, and “the big guy” back into the world.
Edward Norton does a reasonable job as Banner and is believable as someone who wants to get back to normal. While he isn’t the lovable geek that Mark Ruffalo is, he brings a sense of guilt and determination. It’s not entirely clear why he did not return to the role in “Avengers”, though his reputation as a “difficult if talented” actor might have had something to do with it. Perhaps it is the brilliant job Ruffalo does in portraying the character over three separate MCU movies that means, when I look back at Norton, I am less enthused than I would be otherwise
There are other great actors in this film, too, including a favourite of mine, Tim Roth, the British actor best known for being in many Tarantino films does an amazing job playing the smarmy special forces soldier, Emil Blonsky. Liv Tyler plays the pretty girlfriend with no troubles and Oscar winner William Hurt doesn’t just walk through the film like he could have.
So the acting is not the problem.
While the CGI in the final scene is not even close to the quality of the MCU movies today, the action is still enjoyable. In fact, the University fight scene is arguably the best portray of “Hulking Out” in the MCU. The writer was Zac Penn, who also wrote the first script of The Avengers, and is one of the least convoluted in the Marvel franchise.
In the end, it is the tone that most fails “The Incredible Hulk”. It’s just too serious. Now, I fully admit that it would be a very hard job to find levity in the character or tale of “The Hulk”, but there was also no attempt to find it. In fact, the movie seemed to make the intentional decision to create a hyper-realistic movie. Even the colour is dark, filled with low lighting. The violence is realistic and Banner/Hulk has none of the sense of humour we get to see in “The Avengers”. This is a return to “The Dark Knight” style of movie-making that just doesn’t work like the colourful and fun “Iron Man” gave us and most of the following movies continued with.
“The Incredible Hulk” is an okay action flick. It’s got some decent action and actors that are sincere in their portrayals. But it just isn’t a Marvel movie, and it shows.
Director: Louis Leterrier
Stars: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt
Rank: 17th out of 18.