The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Film review #336
dir. Louis Leterrier
SYNOPSIS: Bruce Banner is a scientist in hiding after an experiment with gamma radiation causes him to transform into a monster when he gets angry. However, General T. Ross wants to capture Banner and use his experiment to create a new breed of supersoldier. Ross starts to close in on Banner, who is rushing to find a cure for himself before he is captured…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: The Incredible Hulk is a 2008 superhero film, and the second film is the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Iron Man. Surprisingly enough, the film does not start off by focusing on an origin story, instead showing this in a selection of newspaper clippings throughout the title sequence and small flashback sequences spliced throughout the film. Thinking about it, this isn’t quite such a surprising decision to make: firstly, The Hulk is a well-known superhero, and his back story of how he transforms when he gets angry is well known, and so doesn’t need to be established so firmly before he is introduced. This is in contrast to other Marvel characters such as Iron Man or Captain America, whose stories are less well-known to a general audience, and so requires establishing their origins a bit more. Secondly, there was another (unconnected) Hulk film released five years before this one which did go through the origin story, so it would still be relatively fresh in viewer’s minds, and doing it all again would not provide much new content.
The story as a whole flows quite nicely. As mentioned, the origin story is spliced throughout the film and provides enough detail for those who won’t be too familiar with the character. As you might expect, the film focuses a lot on Banner’s conflict with himself in trying to contain the hulk and control his emotions, and this is explored through his relationship to other characters in the film such as Betty Ross and her Father. It certainly has plenty of emotion behind it, and feels very genuine. These character-driven scenes are balanced out with the action sequences as you might expect, and The Hulk’s appearance is gradually built up as he attacks from the shadow’s until he is revelaed in full, solidifying his menacing and monstrous constitution. I think a weakness in the film is that all of the fight scenes are a bit too similar, but there’s not too much that can be done regarding that, as the Hulk doesn’t do anything more complex than smash things up. The film does try to escalate the scale of the conflicts, but the formula remains the same. Nevertheless, you get what you expect of The Hulk, with plenty of destruction and explosions that portray his immense strength.
The film is very nicely produced, and The Hulk looks pretty good: he towers over everyone else, and is full of detail, but also the CGI gives Hulk some more subtle facial expressions when it needs to without it looking too fake. It has aged a little, but not enough to ruin the film. Overall I was pleasantly surprised by The Incredible Hulk, and enjoyed it more than I thought I would: it tells the story a little differently, but nevertheless keeps all the aspects of the characters and story intact. There’s a nice emotional depth that humanises Bruce Banner, and provides a good contrast to The Hulk, with a nice overlap between the two. There’s some nice nods to previous incarnations of the series too. The setups to the fight scenes don’t provide too much variation, but it’s not a major problem that inhibits the enjoyment of the film, and even if you’re well acquainted with other variations of The Hulk, is still an enjoyable watch.