In commemoration of the upcoming CAPTAIN MARVEL (2019) as well as AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019), I’ve decided to take a trip down memory lane and revisit ALL of the films relating to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). In addition, for my reviews of the other films from the MCU, click the following links:
- IRON MAN (2008)
- IRON MAN 2 (2010)
- THOR (2011)
- CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (2011)
- THE AVENGERS (2012)
Click the following link for:
Cast: Edward Norton (ISLE OF DOGS , SAUSAGE PARTY , and the upcoming MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN ), Liv Tyler (SUPER  and THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING ), William Hurt (THE MIRACLE SEASON , RACE , and the upcoming THE LAST FULL MEASURE ), Tim Roth (HARDCORE HENRY , HATEFUL 8 , and upcoming films LUCE  and ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD ), and Tim Blake Nelson (COLOSSAL , BILLY LYNN , FANT4STIC , and upcoming films THE HUSTLE  and ANGEL HAS FALLEN )
Director: Louis Leterrier (GRIMSBY )
Writer: Zak Penn (READY PLAYER ONE  and X-MEN: LAST STAND )
Composer: Craig Armstrong (BRIDGET JONES’S BABY  and VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN )
Cinematographer: Peter Menzies Jr. (DOG’S/HOME , PETER RABBIT , ALL EYEZ , GODS OF EGYPT , THE EXPENDABLES 3 , and DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE )
Editors: Rick Shaine (THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER ), Vincent Tabaillon (NOW YOU SEE ME , and the upcoming VANDAL ), and John Wright (X-MEN  and DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE)
This is my honest opinion of: THE INCREDIBLE HULK
Five years ago, Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) was part of a science project that would revisit the possibilities of utilizing the old super soldier serum developed in World War II. However, something went wrong and Bruce became infested with Gamma radiation and turned into the monstrous Hulk.
In the present day, Bruce is on the run from the military, specifically General “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt), who is obsessed with bringing Bruce in to dissect the Hulk. Hiding out in Brazil, Bruce is working and learning to control his emotions, and is working tirelessly on a cure for the radiation, but his options have ran dry. He’s been getting help from a mysterious helper named Mr. Blue who is willing to help, but needs the data from the radiation, which can only be retrieved by returning to the States. However, a slip-up causes Ross to know where Bruce is and sends a team, led by the Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), to retrieve Bruce but ultimately fail. Bruce returns home to deal with shadows from his past and the relentless pursuit of the military.
I know this is considered to be one of the lesser MCU films, and having revisited it, I understand why, but I still like this movie.
Ech, perhaps it would be best to start with the flaws. Yeah, there’s not enough of Hulk doing his thing and we spend way too much time with Banner. Don’t get me wrong, I love Norton as an actor and he does a good job, but the man has a reputation for being pretty egotistical, and it shows. He has way too much screen time as Banner and Hulk is second fiddle. It’s like the man is trying to show the world a new side of superhero storytelling by showing the hero outside of his superpowers. The problem is, the material isn’t strong enough to support that. Even if it was, that’s not really what people want to see. This would be fine if it wasn’t a well-known property, like an original work, but when it comes to the Hulk, one of Marvel’s most popular characters of all time, people are lining up to see Hulk smashing things. The 70s TV show certainly had it’s popularity, but the character hasn’t been done justice in the modern era of cinema. Before seeing more of Banner, we need to see Hulk at his best.
At the end of the day, what do we get with Banner anyway? The beginning of the film is pretty good, and I’ll talk about that Just talking about cures and how not to turn into Hulk. That’s kind of boring as there isn’t a whole lot of actual character development in it. A lot of what we get is simply Banner going places and having bland conversations with other characters. That’s really it. He clips his hair with clippers, what they can and can’t use while on the run, the consequences of the Hulk being weaponized, none of this is interesting.
Can’t go a movie without talking about the villains. Blonsky as Abomination doesn’t doesn’t appear until the final ten minutes of the movie, which is a huge bummer, and even beforehand he’s just a blood-hungry asshole with no nuances to his character at all. Just a career soldier. Cool. Haven’t seen that before. It also doesn’t help that when we do see him kicking ass at the university and the effects of him running at super speed are so cheap that it looks like you’re blinking too fast. By God that was terrible. And Ross is no different. Like, literally no different. Even his more human moments seem so phoned in, and I don’t think it’s Hunt’s acting this time. Could just be the directing wasn’t great. Who’s to say? And… I can’t believe I have to ask this question, but what in piss-ass are bullies doing in this movie? Seriously, they’re in this in the Brazil scenes. It’s so dumb.
There are also really unnecessary bits as well. Why do we need to dedicate so many throwaway scenes to Bruce getting back to the States? He wakes up after Hulking out, hitches up with that nice Hispanic driver, and that should have been it. He managed to evade Ross for five years, I think we get that he’s resourceful and clever. The movie didn’t need to hammer it in.
And finally, I love how Betty (Liv Tyler) completely forgets about her boyfriend, Leonard (Ty Burrell). Yeah, did you notice that? From the moment that she and Bruce are reunited, she never talks about him or references him ever again. Oh, the movie certainly does that, but God forbid if Betty does as well.
But I can’t keep bashing the movie, mostly because I do still like it.
What carries it for me are the performances and how hard everyone is trying to make it work. Norton really sells his performance. When he talks about those boring conversations, you at least believe in the urgency in his voice. In fact, I think the best parts of Bruce are laid out while he’s in Brazil. He’s learning how to manage his anger with this awesome stomach-tricks guy, he works for free at a soda factory and helps a woman at work when she’s being harassed by an asshole, and even learning a little bit of basic martial arts. His character goes downhill when he returns to the States, but this was a great intro. Liv Tyler as Betty Ross felt really genuine and cared deeply for Bruce and his problems. You feel her hate toward her father and does see a side of Hulk that Bruce can’t. Even she gets about the biggest laugh in the movie for me when she exits the taxi driven by the asshole driver. And for all their thin characters, I do enjoy watching Tim Roth and Hurt giving their all. Hell, I might even say that this is Hurt’s best acting job… er, well, that I’ve seen. So I give credit that the acting is good.
For as infrequent as the action is, when it does happen, it’s pretty good. Even though Hulk is nowhere in sight, I do love the first chase scene in Brazil. I mean, it’s no parkour, but considering the tight alleyways, the pratfalls from rooftops, it has some merit. The battle scene at Culver University, seeing Hulk tear through Humvees, throwing an engine into another, causing it to fly a few yards, man, that shit was awesome with more than a couple of cool visuals to boot. The gunship that Hulk takes down and crashes into him as he protects an unconscious Betty? Beautiful. Especially when Hulk and Blonsky get up close and personal. That was intense. Even the Hulk and Abomination climactic fight is awesome. Hulk being thrown around, using a cop car as boxing gloves, being thrown through buildings, it’s a lot of fun.
On a final note, I started asking myself… which MCU movies are necessary to be caught up on? When it comes to this one, I gotta say that I don’t think it’s all that necessary. I mean, sure, the closing shot is of Bruce embracing his anger and learning to control Hulk, or unleash him at will, tying back to Bruce’s line in THE AVENGERS, “I’m always angry.” But beyond that, the events that play out here do not come back into play. Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson) never comes back, and considering how Disney doesn’t own the distributing rights to the Hulk and his enemies, we’re never going to. Ross never references this movie in either CIVIL WAR or INFINITY WAR, nothing about this movie furthers the buildup to THE AVENGERS in any meaningful way. Still, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy myself. I understand where the disdain comes from, and I don’t think I’d be able to really argue. But so much of this movie is held up by the actors really trying to make this lackluster script work, the action is mostly worth the wait, and really, it’s a shit-ton better than Ang Lee’s. And it’s not like the character isn’t done justice in the ensemble flicks. So… while I still enjoy this movie, I think casual movie-goers can skip this if they want to catch up with the franchise. Not missing much with this one.
My honest rating for THE INCREDIBLE HULK: a strong 3/5