Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Written by: Zak Penn & Edward Harrison
Starring: Edward Norton, Tim Roth, Liv Tyler, William Hurt
Marvel Studios has provided another successful film with their sophomore entry. Not nearly as good as Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk nonetheless provides quite a bit of fun just in time for the summer season. There are some problems, though.
For starters, Bruce Banner is way more interesting than The Hulk. With Iron Man, Tony Stark puts on a suit but nothing else really changes. The Hulk, is a dim-witted, mute, mini Godzilla. Every time Banner got green, I was very anxious to get back to the real man. One of the reasons for that is Edward Norton, who is excellent in this role. He brings depth to a character somewhat lacking depth. Every time, the real human is swapped for a ridiculous CG beast, I’m taken right out of the movie. In fact, the Hulkless first twenty minutes is the highlight of the movie.
The other performers are hit and miss. William Hurt is a bit dull as General Ross, the man who wants to use Bruce Banner’s unique problem as a means to advance military prowess. With the power of the Hulk harnessed, I suppose he would make super soldiers or some such nonsense. Liv Tyler is the general’s daughter and the love interest. Her performance is pretty average and contributes very little to the proceedings. Worse yet, she shares no on-screen chemistry with Norton (unlike Downey Jr. and Paltrow in Iron Man). Tim Roth plays the power-hungry Emil Blonsky with a welcomed fierceness. Unfortunately, he’s shorted as far as lines go, but he makes superb usage out of his material.
The writing is only average, and the direction is nothing special. The action sequences are sleep-inducing. I caught my mind wandering numerous times during the final battle. We’re expected to buy into the Marvel universe, and for the most part, I do. But how can I when I’m watching two lifeless cartoons duke it out. Either CGI needs to advance quickly or Marvel needs to take a cue from Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) and go for outstanding makeup and costumes with subtle CG effects. I don’t see how that’s too much to ask. I’m starting to complain too much…
The fact is, this movie is very fun, more so at first than during the climax, yes, but it’s a worthwhile experience. Edward Norton adds credibility, even if he doesn’t blow us away like Robert Downey Jr. did oh so recently. The story is OK and a fun surprise appearance in the final scene makes things more interesting. Marvel Studios are off to a good start but they need to keep delivering, preferably at the level that Iron Man did. The Incredible Hulk is good, but if not for all the excitement surrounding Marvel right now, it might have been forgettable.