In anticipation for the release of ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ we will be reviewing all of the Phase One films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In The Incredible Hulk, Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) undergoes an experiment with gamma radiation that goes horribly wrong, transforming him into a huge green monster known as The Hulk, whenever his emotions become too high. Now a fugitive, Banner is forced to go on the run and figure out a way to cure himself.
Directed by Louis Leterrier, The Incredible Hulk is far superior than Ang Lee’s 2003 film Hulk and marks a successful reboot for the character. With this film, Leterrier is able to successfully showcase the sides of both Bruce Banner and the Hulk. The film tells the origin story in the right way by quickly going through it during the opening credits. With the previous film already telling the origin story to moviegoing audiences, it would have been redundant for the reboot to spend time going over the origin story again.
The film has a lot of thrilling chase sequences that are handled really well. There are three major action set-pieces involving the Hulk. They are all very entertaining and should please action enthusiasts. We also get a good look at the character of Banner. There are times when the film acts as a character-driven drama that gives us an intriguing look at Banner’s psyche in dealing with the circumstance of being the Hulk.
Edward Norton truly made for a great Bruce Banner. He was able to bring an interesting dynamic to the character. It’s a shame this would be the only time he would play the role. Norton is compelling during the dramatic sequences, and accurately conveys the character’s fears when he is about to undergo his transformation into the Hulk. Liv Tyler is charming as Banner’s love interest Betty Ross. Tim Roth is menacing in his role as Emil Blonsky, but in a subtle way that makes him more intimidating. William Hurt is perfectly casted as General Ross, and delivers a solid performance. Tim Blake Nelson is particularly entertaining in his role as Dr. Samuel Sterns.
The film has some pacing issues as it drags quite a bit towards its second act. It also seems like the film was fighting itself, with one side being a character-driven drama and the other side being a CGI spectacle. The two sides did not really come together all that well. Also, the supporting characters could have been handled better. Betty Ross simply serves the purpose of aiding Banner while he is on the run. We never get to learn more about her character, and so she is less interesting. While Tim Roth delivers a good performance, his character ultimately makes for a forgettable villain.
Ultimately, The Incredible Hulk is the entertaining Hulk film fans of the character always wanted. The film features a great performance by Edward Norton and some thrilling action sequences that are truly exciting. Leterrier did a great job with these sequences. Even with its flaws, this is a successful reboot of The Hulk character and an entertaining addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.