The Incredible Hulk

Directed By: Louis Leterrier

Starring: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, and William Hurt

Back in 2003, Hulk was an absolute disaster.  The film did anything but justice to the big green menace, and there was a backlash from fans.  That's why the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk seems nothing like its predecessor.  Universal has brought in a new director, a new Hulk, and an entirely new cast.  They wanted to distance themselves from the painful memories from Hulk.  I can happily say that The Incredible Hulk is a step in the right direction.  The film is leaner, meaner, and maybe even greener.

Five years after the experiment that went wrong, Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) is living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where he is in hiding from General Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt).  He currently works at a bottling factory in a low-level position.  When he accidentally bleeds and contaminates a pack of bottles, all hell breaks loose.  An innocent American consumer (Stan Lee) takes a sip of one of the bottles, and his adverse reaction lets the world and General Ross know where the Hulk is.  Bruce's secret is out, though he doesn't know it yet.

Meanwhile, Bruce is reaching out to a scientist known as Mr. Blue (Tim Blake Nelson) under the alias of Mr. Green.  Mr. Blue, a cellular biologist claims to have developed an antidote to Bruce's condition and wants Bruce to come to New York to try it.  Bruce is reluctant to do so until General Ross arrives in Rio to take him into custody.  Along with British Royal Marine Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), Ross chases Banner throughout the streets of Rio until they make Bruce mad and unleash the Hulk.  The big green menace then punishes Ross's men and escapes.  Now, Bruce decides to go to New York to meet Mr. Blue.  Unfortunately, he runs into his long-lost love Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) along the way.

For a movie about a guy who turns into a big green monster whenever he gets angry, The Incredible Hulk has a surprisingly dark, serious tone.  This is both good and bad.  It adds a certain gravitas to the film that's often not seen in comic book flicks.  I appreciate this to an extent because it makes you think of the characters' problems more than what they can do.  It fosters a greater level of character development.  At the same time, we're talking about a guy who turns into the Hulk when he gets mad.  Louis Leterrier and Edward Norton need lighten up just a little with the gloom and doom.

Universal may have entirely rebooted this film, but I must say that they made some great selections for the cast in Edward Norton and William Hurt.  Norton captures the true essence of the Hulk quite well.  In his portrayal of a conflicted hero, he embodies the epic struggle between Bruce and the Hulk.  William Hurt also gives a great performance as General Ross.  His look, his presence, and even his voice are everything you'd want to see in a stubborn old school general.

Director Louis Leterrier does not make the mistakes of his predecessor Ang Lee.  The Incredible Hulk is shorter, more action-packed, and better than Hulk.  As enjoyable as it is, it's not quite on the same level of Marvel's other 2008 flick Iron Man.  Have a few rounds of green beer for the big guy.  The Incredible Hulk gets a 0.06% rating.   Watch out for some rumblings about The Avengers Initiative at the end of this flick as well.