Release date: June 8, 2008
Based on: Hulk (comic book character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)
Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell, William Hurt
Budget: $150 million
Box office: $263.4 million
On the run from the government, Doctor Bruce Banner works to rid himself of the monster he turns into whenever angry.
Released following the success of the film which introduced the world to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Incredible Hulk was expected to continue the accomplishments laid down by its predecessor. What audiences were given was a passable film with few saving graces. While the elements are there to make it a much tighter and better film, they come alongside plenty of other aspects to create a cluttered mess lacking any direction. With so many plot threads to follow within this film, it feels like the writer was unable to pick a direction for the story and decided to go with them all and as if the director was unsure what to do with a bloated script.
Additionally, the film contains contradictory characterization. The hallmark of Banner is he is supposed to be an intelligent scientist tortured by a green specter, utilizing his inability to live a normal life as the driving force behind his attempts to cure himself. The character the viewer sees is more mopey and mildly annoyed instead of desperate as the film attempts clunky exposition to spell out why he feels the way he feels. It’s difficult to care for a character when the film itself shows Banner as having a plight worthy of nothing more than mild annoyance while at the same time telling its audience what they’re seeing is incorrect.
In fact, the only good characterization is that of the Hulk and it comes in the only good moments of action in the film, namely at the beginning and the climax. The former employs good lighting, shrouding most of what happens in darkness and giving some weight to the Hulk being a mysterious monster barely able to control himself and nearly unstoppable by conventional methods. Further, the climax presents the Hulk having to utilize the intelligence he does have in order to get the upper hand.
The acting is bad as well, consisting of incredibly wooden performances by Norton and Tyler. This is most noticeable in one scene where the two of them are speaking in a hallway. Neither party seems to be invested in what they are saying or doing and the film suffers for it. Hardly anybody else within the film gives a performance indicating they want to be in it. The best acting comes from Nelson’s decent performance as a manic scientist, portraying his character quite well and giving believability to his desires and motivations.
Despite a few good aspects, this film is mostly forgettable. It’s worth seeing to get the complete picture of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but has no lasting legacy otherwise.
ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards
- Top Box Office Films
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA – Saturn Awards
- Best Science Fiction Film
Alliance of Women Film Journalists – EDA Awards
- Special Mention Award – Remake That Shouldn’t Have Been Made
Golden Schmoes Awards
- Most Underrated Movie of the Year
- Best Sci-Fi Movie of the Year
- Best Action Sequence of the Year (Final fight vs Abomination)
National Movie Awards, UK
- Best Superhero
- Best Performance – Male (Edward Norton)
Teen Choice Awards
- Choice Summer Movie: Action Sequence