“What is it like? When it happens, what do you experience?” asks Betty Ross. Bruce Banner responds, “Remember those experiments we volunteered for at Harvard? Those induced hallucinations? It’s a lot like that, just a thousand times amplified. It’s like someone poured a liter of acid into my brain.”
The original Life of This City Girl link: The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Marvel Studios kicked off Phase One of its cinematic universe with Iron Man in May 2008. The following month saw the release of its second entry, The Incredible Hulk, a reboot of the 2003 Ang Lee film that was designed to connect the Hulk to Iron Man and future Marvel Studios films. Marvel promised fans a ton of Hulk action in this installment and a lot less of the cerebral Shakespearean family tragedy that dominated Lee’s film. Marvel even hired director Louis Leterrier of The Transporter films just to show that The Incredible Hulk would showcase lots of Hulk action. I saw The Incredible Hulk on the big screen not long after it opened, and although I missed the Shakespearean family drama elements of Lee’s film, I still enjoyed Leterrier’s film very much. This review of The Incredible Hulk is my entry in Natasha Stander’s Marvelous Mondays Blogathon over at her blog Life of This City Girl.
2008’s The Incredible Hulk follows Dr. Bruce Banner, who has been on the run from the U.S. government for the last five years after a laboratory accident turned him into a giant green monster (leaving his girlfriend Betty Ross injured and her father, General “Thunderbolt” Ross, determined to bring Banner into custody). After General Ross unsuccessfully attempts to capture Banner in Brazil, Banner is forced to return to the U.S. in the hope of finding a cure for all the gamma radiation that is still in his blood. He must also contend with Emil Blonsky, a British soldier who has been injected with a super soldier serum that has some dangerous and lethal side effects. A terrific cast was assembled for this film: Edward Norton (as Banner and the Hulk), Liv Tyler (as Betty Ross), William Hurt (as General Ross), Tim Roth (as Blonsky and the Abomination), Ty Burrell (as Dr. Leonard Samson), Tim Blake Nelson (as Dr. Samuel Sterns), and cameos by Stan Lee, Lou Ferrigno, and Robert Downey Jr. Norton is excellent as the conflicted Banner, constantly struggling to reconcile with his other half (the Hulk). Over the course of the film, Banner is working to get rid of the Hulk but must also deal with the possibility that he might have to just learn how to control it instead.
The screenplay by Zak Penn (with uncredited rewrites by Norton) is interesting in that it doesn’t just reboot the Hulk franchise; it also functions as a re-casted sequel to Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk film that is now set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (a lot of Stark technology and weapons show up periodically due to their use by the U.S. military and even S.H.I.E.L.D. makes a subtle appearance behind-the-scenes). I was also fascinated by Emil Blonsky’s character arc; here’s a man who loved being a soldier so much that he was willing to have himself injected with an unsafe super soldier serum (and later Banner’s mutated DNA) that ended up turning him into something monstrous. Burrell’s Doc Samson was also an interesting character in his efforts to understand Betty and his attempt to help Banner (most of Burrell’s scenes, along with a lot of great character development scenes, were cut out to reduce the running time; Norton’s cut of the film would’ve kept these scenes, which are available on the DVD and blu-ray). The references to the 1970s/1980s TV show The Incredible Hulk were also a nice touch.
The special effects are incredible (I just had to go for it), as is the production design by Kirk M. Petruccelli, Peter Menzies Jr.’s cinematography, and Craig Armstrong’s emotional and action-packed score (which even includes one reprisal of Joe Harnell’s Lonely Man theme from The Incredible Hulk TV series). Leterrier’s direction is strong and he delivers the action goods. Leterrier’s film is a good one, but could’ve been a great one if those character scenes cut from the film had been kept (they would’ve added more depth to the film). Regardless, it’s still worth watching and fans are still clamoring for another Hulk film (I hope Marvel gives us one soon).