Review: The Incredible Hulk

First off, I want to throw it out there that I'm not going to compare this iteration of the Hulk to Ang Lee's The Hulk. Its a comparison that I'm sure many people will try to make, but its not really a fair comparison, and Louis Leterrier wasn't trying to make a better movie, just a different movie. That being said, The Incredible Hulk was awesome. I went in with moderate expectations and was pleasantly surprised. Leterrier assumes you know the origin of the Hulk, so this isn't so much a true Hulk origin story as much as it is a "progression" story. We already see Bruce Banner (Edward Norton), aware of what he can become (and shown how he got there with a tidy montage at the beginning of the movie), in isolation attempting to control his alter-ego. This of course doesn't sit well with General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt), who believes that he's entitled to the power that Banner has and turns his misplaced sense of possession into a vendetta against Banner. Cue Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), a decorated special agent recruited by Ross to capture Banner. After the first attempt to capture fails, Ross offers a chance for Blonsky to even the playing field by giving him the Super Serum (yes, we're pretty sure its the same serum that makes Steve Rogers Captain America). All the while Banner reconnects with Elizabeth Ross (Liv Tyler), letting her know what he's become and enlisting her help to find a cure. I think everyone knows by now that Roth becomes the Abomination through a combination of anger and excessive drugs, but the reasoning behind his transformation is rather well thought out by Leterrier (as opposed to mindless violence). Leterrier does a great job building up the presence of the Hulk, as you don't see him completely at first, just shadows. Gradually as the movie progresses you see him in his green glory, and I was extremely impressed with how he was rendered. Not too massive, his size was adequate relative to the other characters in the film. Norton had a good grasp of Bruce Banner's character, and really shows the conflict that someone in his position would (hopefully) grapple with. And I didn't think anyone could replace Jennifer Connelly as Betty Ross, but Tyler did a great job and acted as a great calming foil to Norton's worried persona. And now the fight scenes. Spectacular. There are two major fights in this film, both of which completely showcase the Hulk at his rawest brutality. The film would not have been as comicky if not for certain nods to the comic, with Hulk using some of his trademark moves in his fights (and even a trademark phrase). But its not all action, as the drama aspect of it played out really well. The story centered around the need for Banner and Blonsky to control immense power, however Banner wanted to control it by getting rid of it while Blonsky wanted to control it by having more. It was a phenomenal portrayal of good versus evil, and that transferred into the epic fight scene at the end. Overall, I was quite pleased. The movie blended pure, smashmouth action with what is really a misunderstood chacter story in Bruce Banner/The Hulk. And of course the cameo really makes things great as well, keeping the film tied into the rest of the Marvel Universe. I really like what Marvel is doing here in making their films part of one universe, keeping a continuity that makes the experience great for nerds like me (having the requisite Stan Lee and Lou Ferrigno cameos increased the nerdgasm factor). It was a great film with a steady pace that didn't take itself too seriously at any point. Score: 80 out of 100