Starring: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth
Director: Louis Leterrier
Running Time: 112 mins
The Incredible Hulk is an American film and the second in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, following the story of Bruce Banner, a man on the run from the US government, as he attempts to find a way to cure himself from turning into a monster when he loses his temper.
This definitely isn’t the best superhero movie ever made, and particularly with the hindsight of 10 years of the MCU now, it’s clear that The Incredible Hulk is lacking a little in real character and energy. That said, despite featuring a fairly generic and plastic story, it is a pretty entertaining blockbuster, with excellent action throughout, consistent directing, and some strong performances.
Let’s start with the best part of the whole movie: the action. Given that the Hulk is by nature not the most riveting superhero, at times just a big green thing that smashes things, the action has to be good, and that’s fortunately the case with this film. Save for a slightly overlong and overly loud final act, The Incredible Hulk dispersesthe fl its action sequences well across the duration, starting off with some good bursts, and featuring a good few very exciting battles throughout.
What’s more is that that action is generally very crisp and enjoyable to watch. Again, save for some of the final act, director Louis Leterrier does a great job at making the action sequences as bright and coherent as possible, with very little in the way of shaky cam (which was very popular in Hollywood in 2008), instead using a lot of flatter wide shots to give you more of an idea of the scale of the action and destruction that’s unfolding before you, something that makes the film a lot more enjoyable to watch.
When it comes to the story, however, things aren’t quite so impressive. On the one hand, the film toes the superhero formula pretty well throughout, and even makes some of the quieter scenes surrounding the human side of Bruce Banner surprisingly engaging. Also, there’s an element of the story that diverges well from the most generic comic book movies, and that’s the fact that the story isn’t entirely about saving the world from a particular villain, but instead a slightly more intimate character-focused plot, which was good to see.
On the other hand, however, there are times when the film really struggles to give itself any life or energy beyond the simplicity of the superhero concept. Yes, there are some genuinely riveting scenes at times, however for the most part, the film isn’t a consistently exciting watch when things do get a little quieter, something that’s largely down to the fact that it’s maybe not as joyful a comic book movie as you might expect.
Compared with the Marvel movies of the mid-2010s, The Incredible Hulk is very, very serious, and although it’s still there to entertain, there’s an element of how serious it takes itself that doesn’t make it endlessly enjoyable. While current Marvel movies manage to keep you entertained even in the down time between the big action bits with good comedy, there are times when The Incredible Hulk feels a little lifeless, which isn’t great to see when you want good entertainment right from beginning to end.
Finally, the performances here are pretty good too. Although he’s no longer in the role, Edward Norton does a great job as Bruce Banner, and makes the character’s frustration and fear with his big green alter ego abundantly clear, all the while working very well with co-lead Liv Tyler who, although not playing the world’s most fascinating love interest, is still an entertaining presence alongside Norton.
There are a couple of turns that do feel a little too serious, particularly that of Tim Roth as a ruthless, war-loving soldier. At times, it feels as if he’s overdoing things a little when it comes to being the antithesis to our hero, and although it’s in keeping with the slightly more serious tone of the film as a whole, it’s still doesn’t really sit right when you’re watching.
Overall, however, I was very entertained by The Incredible Hulk. It’s not a perfect movie, and with its somewhat overly serious atmosphere, it can be a bit of a drag at times. However, with good action and good performances, it’s still a strong blockbuster, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.4.