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Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.76%
Worth A Look52.94%
Average: 14.12%
Pretty Bad: 9.41%
Total Crap: 11.76%

8 reviews, 37 user ratings

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Incredible Hulk, The (2008)
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by Lybarger

"Make it ‘The Tolerable Hulk.’"
3 stars

According to either Albert Einstein or Benjamin Franklin, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” If that’s true, then the folks at Marvel and Universal are crazy for a new Incredible Hulk movie after Ang Lee’s disappointing 2003 “Hulk.”

The new reworking of “The Incredible Hulk” by French director Louis Leterier (“The Transporter”) attempts to get past the arty touches Lee put into the last film and make it truer to the TV series and comic book that inspired it. Unfortunately, Leterrier, who is known more for action than art, still makes some of the same mistakes Ang Lee made and adds a few of his own.

To give Leterrier and screenwriter Zak Penn (“X-Men”) credit, the story unfolds without the usual time wasted in a creation setup. From a few quick flashbacks during the opening credits, viewers can quickly get up to speed and can figure out what’s happening. They also got rid of Ang Lee’s comic book framing, which got old and disorienting after a few minutes.

Both films featured first-rate leading men playing scientist Bruce Banner, the man who becomes a giant, green monster every time he becomes angry. Ang Lee cast Eric Bana, and Leterier chose Oscar-nominee Edward Norton. While he has to compete with a lot of computer-generated mayhem, Norton manages to hold his own because he winds up focusing the movie not on the Hulk’s rampages but on Banner’s attempts to keep his anger and, therefore the creature, in check.

Norton projects a morose, brooding quality that’s just right for the role. With every head turn, he projects guilt and a sense that a time bomb has been placed in his own body. Norton’s Banner may be the only person who takes martial arts for anger management instead of self-defense.

Unfortunately, all the martial arts classes in the world can prevent Banner from justifiably losing his cool. The fanatical General Ross (William Hurt) has tracked Banner to his hiding place in Brazil and recruited an ace British commando (Tim Roth) to capture him.

The General wants to figure out how to create soldiers with the Hulk’s strength but not his unpredictability. He also resents the fact that his estranged daughter Betty (Liv Tyler) and Banner were once romantically involved.

As Betty becomes a bigger part of the story, the film begins to lose its once firm footing. Tyler isn’t convincing as a scientist and plays the role too broadly. At least Jennifer Connelly, who played Betty in the last movie, could read a scientific abstract without tripping over her own tongue.

Norton reportedly rewrote large chunks of the script, which explains why Banner is a much more interesting and developed character this time around. If that’s true, it’s a shame he didn’t do the same for Hurt and Roth’s roles. Neither actor has much to do other than look irritated. One of the first rules for films like this to work is that the villains must be as well conceived as the heroes.

As with the last film, careful viewers can spot Hulk co-creator Stan Lee and TV Hulk Lou Ferrigno. In the old 70s and 80s series, Ferrigno used green makeup and his own muscles to pass for the creature. The action was smaller than what Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby could come up with for the comics, but it was usually convincing.

Both of the Hulk films suffer because their directors made the mistake of trusting CGIs that are bigger than life but not very believable. The facial expressions on the monster aren’t terribly flexible, and gravity is sometimes seems missing. If the first film looked like its creature escaped from a PlayStation 1, this one looks as if it’s from a PS2. I’ve seen characters in Liberty City who looked more lifelike.

In the early scenes, the Hulk appears hidden by dust and steam. He actually looks scarier because we can’t see him that clearly. As the film progresses, it’s easier to see where reality ends and where the computer takes over.

The audience at my screening cheered the most loudly when Stan Lee, Ferrigno and characters from other Marvel titles appeared for their cameos. If the movie had worked a little better on its own, the Hulk would have gotten more applause just for himself.

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originally posted: 06/13/08 09:34:39
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User Comments

3/25/18 morris campbell solid imho better than the 2003 version 4 stars
3/14/16 Charles Tatum Meh, but a good meh. 4 stars
5/05/15 Jack Just awful. Boring and idiotic at the same time. 1 stars
10/19/11 Magic Bland and uninteresting. The first of many Avengers lead-in movies. 3 stars
9/08/11 Ryan if you like this movie,then you have horrible taste,and you'r an idiot 1 stars
9/25/09 george webster Great fun! E. Norton was wonderful! 4 stars
9/24/09 Dr.Lao Enjoyable, but the numerous "in the know" references got eal annoying real fast 4 stars
7/02/09 Jonathan Birch I felt more emotionally attached to Stan Lee's CGI Hulk. He just felt more real. 3 stars
3/17/09 zenny good semi-mindless funzers 4 stars
3/10/09 KingNeutron Liked this one better than Ang Lees version but it could have been edited more. Lots of FF 4 stars
1/08/09 Shaun Wallner Intense Action! 4 stars
10/27/08 VMANIC1 The (Hulk Character) and the fight scenes still look too "cartoonish". 3 stars
10/18/08 AshleyRockO Well made comic book film. Better than the first. Less Story. More Hulk Smash! 5 stars
9/17/08 Oiman wasn't THAT bad, but not very entertaining. 3 stars
8/28/08 Cathy We liked it -- interesting to watch 4 stars
8/06/08 E K Zimmerman Still awkward on the screen, but pretty damn good. 4 stars
8/03/08 markgse I am so glad it's not like the first Hulk movie. This was a winner. 4 stars
7/29/08 Christ Only mentally retarded people will enjoy this piece of crap 1 stars
7/26/08 MCM A nice combo of the comic & the tv show. 4 stars
7/10/08 L. Slusarczyk A LOT better than the first one, but I still miss the TV show! 4 stars
7/08/08 mary m I wasn't sure I wanted to see this and I almost wish I had saved my money. 2 stars
7/06/08 Quigley A further reminder of why the Hulk is a lame character. 3 stars
7/05/08 mr.mike It was good. 4 stars
6/25/08 FJ Entertaining movie. The final fight scene ended too abruptly though. 4 stars
6/25/08 Paviv Delivers the fun/excitement/script that the last one missed. 5 stars
6/25/08 Ole Man Bourbon This was surprisingly entertaining. Better than most other hero movies. 4 stars
6/24/08 damalc NOT the best Marvel movie, about even with IM, step below SM2 4 stars
6/22/08 Dan Great adaptation, on par with Iron Man. I can't understand the criticism. 5 stars
6/21/08 steve awful and boring.stan lee's was better 2 stars
6/21/08 David V Way better than the first, Hulk's actually exciting this time. 4 stars
6/17/08 johnnybgoode Much better than the first Hulk. Better action / acting, and he isn't Shrek anymore 4 stars
6/14/08 Sam The movie was horrible and this critic is right about everything he says. 1 stars
6/14/08 jcjs33 fun 4 stars
6/14/08 action movie fan very good action good ideas could have been better developed 4 stars
6/14/08 Darkstar 100 times beter than the first one 4 stars
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  13-Jun-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 21-Oct-2008


  DVD: 21-Oct-2008

Directed by
  Louis Leterrier

Written by
  Edward Norton
  Zak Penn

  Edward Norton
  Liv Tyler
  Tim Roth
  William Hurt

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