Don’t judge this movie based on Ang Lee’s 2003 movie. That was an exploration of the psychology that leads to and results from coexisting with the Hulk. This is about a thing that’s really, really good at smashing.

Cast and Crew Information

Edward Norton as Bruce Banner
Lou Ferrigno as the voice of the Incredible Hulk
Liv Tyler as Betty Ross
Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky
William Hurt as General “Thunderbolt” Ross
Tim Blake Nelson as Samuel Sterns
Ty Burrell as Dr. Leonard Samson
Paul Soles as Stanley, the pizza guy

Written by Zak Penn. (Edward Norton’s writing credit was removed by the WGA, as most of his scenes were in the 70 minutes of film that got cut from the theatrical release.)
Directed by Louis Leterrier
Crew credits also include Transportation Co-Captain Rick Jones. I’m not clear what a Transportation Co-Captain does, but I can’t write a review of a Hulk movie and not mention a credit for a guy named Rick Jones.

Premise

Bruce Banner desperately seeks a cure for his condition, while General Ross wants to take the potential in Banner and turn it into a weapon.

High Point

If I went into the film without a comic book background, I’d pick either the cab ride (for the comedy) or the final confrontation (for the well done action.) As someone who has read a lot of Marvel product, I’ve got to go with the final conversation between General Ross and the other gentleman.

Low Point

Sam Sterns’ last scene feels like a dropped thread if you don’t already know who that character is. (If you’re one of those people, check out this Wikipedia page.)

The Review

On the one hand, the originality suffers from the adapted nature of the material. It does get credit for being such a drastic departure from the Ang Lee effort, though. I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects are excellent. The Hulk had that reptilian green skin colour I was hoping for last time, and he integrates with his environment far more naturally. Both he and the abomination were also far more expressive. Unlike the previous effort, bullets are not repelled by an elastic effect, but rather deflect harmlessly off skin that barely covers dense and toned musculature. The battles are fierce, and very well done. It’s easy to forget there’s no actual Hulk on set throwing these people and cars around. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story isn’t as deep as Ang Lee’s was. This isn’t about depths of psychology and the impact of this life on a normal man, it’s about an angry jade giant who’s really good at smashing and human beings with different agendas for him. It’s a simple story, but doesn’t pretend otherwise. The Doc Samson thread could have had more closure, though. I give it 4 out of 6.

The acting is well done all around. I still prefer Jennifer Connelly as Betty, but Liv Tyler wasn’t bad. Norton and Hurt are both very well suited to their roles, and Roth is convincing enough, as well. Some moments aren’t convincing (the worst of which actually landed in the trailer, with the “get far away from me – it’s not safe” scene in the park). I give it 5 out of 6.

The production was well done. It didn’t provide any of the real “wow” moments that Ang Lee had with his comic panels and the like, but it delivers in an effective-but-standard action flick kind of way. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response was strong. A good portion of Hulk’s supporting cast were introduced in some manner, without derailing the intentions of the story itself. We get fan service for those who’ve read the source material, and a goodly amount of smashing for those who haven’t. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this is a solid action movie, which consciously chooses not to take the same path Ang Lee made. It’s a standard action flick, with sometimes brutal battles. The tone is in line with the pre-Peter David run of the comic, particularly the short Byrne run, though the main influence is the Bill Bixby series. It’s not spectacular, and it’s not quite up to the level of “Iron Man,” but it’s entertaining and meets its own goals. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Incredible Hulk receives 32 out of 42.