Tuesday, May 02, 2017
The Incredible Hulk (2008 film)
Based on the comic series by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, The Incredible Hulk is the story of a man who turns into a green and destructive monster whenever he gets angry as he is pursued by the army while trying to find a cure for his condition. Directed by Louis Leterrier and screenplay by Zak Penn with contributions by Edward Norton, the film is a reboot of sorts of the 2003 film where it focuses on Bruce Banner’s quest to cure himself and evade the army unaware that a power-hungry soldier wants to use a similar formula to beat the Hulk. Starring Edward Norton, Tim Roth, Liv Tyler, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell, and William Hurt. The Incredible Hulk is a lively yet messy film from Louis Leterrier.
The film follows a man who was part of a gamma radiation experiment where he became a green monster that destroys everything whenever he’s angry as he finds himself being pursued by the U.S. army. During this pursuit, Bruce Banner/the Hulk (Edward Norton) is trying to find a cure as he is trying to meet a fellow scientist who claims to have a cure yet a soldier who is in pursuit of Banner wants what Banner has to destroy him. It’s a film with a simple premise which explores a man just wanting to maintain some control as he also copes with disconnecting himself with the life he previously had which includes a relationship with Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) whose father in General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt) is pursuing Banner. During this pursuit, General Ross gets the service of a revered British soldier named Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) who wants to capture Banner as he also wants what Banner is carrying as a way to stop him.
The film’s screenplay doesn’t just try to explore Banner’s attempt to find a cure but also trying to figure out why he was able to stay alive despite the fact that the radiation was going to kill him. Yet, there is a lot going on as one of the reasons General Ross is pursuing him is so that he can find out what made Banner survive and turn this experiment into a weapon as General Ross isn’t exactly an antagonist. Especially as it relates to his estranged relationship with his daughter as well as come to the realization of how bad this kind of power can be after giving Blonsky a serum that can allow him to enhance his own abilities. While the script succeeds in establishing the plot and its characters, it does suffer from being too predictable while characters such as Betty Ross aren’t given much to do in terms of advancing the story as all she really is someone that can bring Banner back whenever he’s the Hulk.
Louis Leterrier’s direction is definitely big in terms of its setting and what is expected in blockbuster action films as it feature some extravagant action sequences as well as moments of suspense. Yet, Letterier knows when give the action a break to focus on the story as it relates to Banner trying to hide and evade the authorities despite some of the lackluster material involving him and Betty. Shot largely in Toronto with additional locations in New York City and Rio de Janeiro, the film does play into a large world where the first act has Banner in Latin America while the second act in Toronto and areas in Canada as Virginia and the third act in New York City. Leterrier does create some unique compositions with the close-ups and medium shots in focusing on the characters as well as wide shots to capture the action and the scenes involving the Hulk. The film’s climax is, not surprisingly, overblown as it pits the Hulk against a monster called Abomination where it is quite clunky at times but does deliver in what it aims to be which is two monsters going mano-a-mano. Overall, Leterrier creates a fine yet flawed film about a man who becomes a monster whenever he gets angry.
Cinematographer Peter Menzies Jr. does nice work with the cinematography as it is a bit desaturated in its look and approach to colors as it relates to the locations and some of the big set pieces in the film. Editors John Wright, Rick Shaine, and Vincent Taballion do nice work with the editing where it does have some stylish montages as well as some fast-cutting for some of the film’s action scenes. Production designer Kirk M. Petruccelli, with supervising art director Daniel T. Dorrance as well as set decorators Monica Delfino, Carolyn “Cal” Loucks, and Monica Rochlin, does fantastic work with the home in Brazil that Banner lives in as well as the college campuses where Betty and the mysterious Mr. Blue works at. Costume designers Denise Cronenbergh and Renee Fontana does terrific work with the costumes as it is mostly casual with the exception of the uniforms and clothes the Army personnel wears.
Visual effects supervisors Ian Hunter, Betsy Paterson, Colin Strause, Greg Strause, and Chris Wells does excellent work with the visual effects in not just the design of the Hulk but also the monster that would be Abomination though some of it does look spotty at times. Sound editors Greg Hedgepath and Eric Lindemann, with sound designer Michael Babcock, do superb work with the sound as it add to some of the intensity of the action as well as in the film’s climatic battle between Hulk and Abomination. The film’s music by Craig Armstrong is wonderful as it’s mostly orchestral with air of bombast for the action scenes and serene moments for the drama.
The casting by Robin D. Cook and Laray Mayfield is brilliant as it feature some notable small roles from Lou Ferrigno as a campus security guard, Martin Starr as a student at a lab, Jim Wilson and Jack Magee as a couple of students who capture footage of the Hulk’s battle with the Army, Michael K. Williams as a bystander during the Hulk-Abomination battle, Rickson Gracie as Banner’s martial arts teacher in Brazil, Peter Mensah as a fellow general who gives General Ross information on Blonsky, Paul Soles as a pizzeria owner who is a longtime friend of Banner, Christina Cabot as General Ross’ assistant Major Kathleen Sparr, Debora Nascimento as Banner’s Brazilian girlfriend Martina, and Ty Burrell as Betty’s boyfriend Leonard Samson who is also a psychiatrist as he learns why Betty never talks about her father. Tim Blake Nelson is superb as Samuel Sterns as a college professor/researcher who has been trying to analyze everything Banner’s given him where he makes a discovery into what could help Banner. William Hurt is excellent as General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross as an Army general who is eager to capture Banner and figure out what made him survive the gamma radiation as he hopes to have it weaponized only to see what can really go wrong.
Liv Tyler is alright as Betty Ross as she’s not given much to do but be there for Banner as well as scream or get herself into some bad situation as it’s a very badly-written role for Tyler. Tim Roth is fantastic as Emil Blonsky as a Russian-born British marine who is asked to help capture Banner as he wants to know what makes Banner the Hulk as he is eager to do whatever it takes to beat the Hulk anyway he can as it’s a very slimy yet fun performance from Roth. Finally, there’s Edward Norton in a marvelous performance as Bruce Banner/the Hulk as a scientist who is on the run following an experiment gone wrong as Norton brings a nice weight to his role as someone eager to rid of the persona he would unleash while also bringing some light-hearted humor to the role.
The Incredible Hulk is a good though flawed film from Louis Leterrier. Despite some excellent performances from Edward Norton, Tim Roth, and William Hurt as well as enough moments that are entertaining. It is a film that plays too much by the rules in terms of what it sets out to be with very little to make it more compelling. In the end, The Incredible Hulk is a worthwhile film from Louis Leterrier.
Louis Leterrier Films: (The Transporter) – (Unleashed) – (The Transporter 2) – (Clash of the Titans (2010 film)) – (Now You See Me) – (Grimsby)
Marvel Cinematic Universe: Infinity Saga: Phase One: Iron Man - Iron Man 2 - Thor (2011 film) - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers (2012 film)
Phase Two: Iron Man 3 - Thor: The Dark World - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Guardians of the Galaxy - The Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ant Man
Phase Three: Captain America: Civil War - Doctor Strange - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Spider-Man: Homecoming – Thor: Ragnarok – Black Panther – Avengers: Infinity War – Ant-Man & the Wasp – Captain Marvel - Avengers: Endgame - Captain Marvel - Spider-Man: Far from Home
Post-Infinity Saga: Phase Four: Black Widow (2021 film) - (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) – (Eternals) – (Spider-Man: No Way Home) – (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness) – (Thor: Love and Thunder) – (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) - (The Marvels) – (Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania) – (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3) – (Fantastic Four)
Related: MCU is Cinema: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3 – Pt. 4 – (Part 5) – (Part 6) – (Part 7) - The MCU: 10 Reasons Why It Rules the World
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