The 2008 The Incredible Hulk film, the second work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was supposed to continue the amazing example set by the first Iron Man film (from only a month or so earlier, I might add). It failed miserably.
The cast was full of potential: Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, Liv Tyler as his love interest who happens to be the daughter of William Hurt’s character, the overly-ambitious General Ross who will stop at nothing to weaponize the process that changed Banner into the Hulk. With talent like that, I just can’t figure out how the director and writers could have gone wrong. But they did.
The director, Louis Leterrier, has an impressive track record of pretty good films (I really enjoyed Now You See Me), even though most of them are not to my taste, but you could almost feel the actors crying out for better direction all throughout the film. It was sad to see their talent being wasted for the most part.
I am a huge fan of film and television soundtracks. Ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll probably roll their eyes about it as they nod. So, I have a pretty good handle on how soundtracks are supposed to work. The music by Craig Armstrong constantly intruded into The Incredible Hulk instead of blending seamlessly into the background. It felt forced and melodramatic rather than enhancing the moments. It just didn’t work on so many levels, and even though it occasionally struck the right chord, it just felt wrong most of the time.
Much of the CGI used in the film looked barely better than some higher-end video game graphics (the helicopter chase with the Abomination near the end comes to mind as the worst of them). It just wasn’t up to the quality I expected after watching Iron Man, and it was another element which took me out of my immersion in the film’s world.
Finally, the script and pacing of the film were reminiscent of a teenager driving a manual transmission for the first time: definitely not the smoothest ride around. Much of the dialogue felt forced and amateurish, almost as if it had been lifted from a stereotypical comic book page. Perhaps that is the feeling the screenwriter was attempting, but it didn’t work well on the big screen.
The only reason I am keeping the 2008 The Incredible Hulk in my collection is because it is part of the aforementioned Marvel Cinematic Universe. It would otherwise find a quick trip to the nearest garage sale or thrift shop. It is only worth watching for completeness’ sake.
Release Date: June 13, 2008 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (some social drinking, cigar smoking)
Language: 2 (mostly minor, a few stronger expletives)
Nudity: 1 (Banner in the bath)
Sexuality: 2 (some brief friskiness)
Violence: 4 (extensive “smashing”, military gunfights, explosions, massive destruction, typical Hulk stuff)