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The Incredible Hulk

Incredible Hulk, The (2008) Movie Poster
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  •  USA  •    •  112m  •    •  Directed by: Louis Leterrier.  •  Starring: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell, Christina Cabot, Peter Mensah, Lou Ferrigno, Paul Soles, Débora Nascimento, Greg Bryk, Chris Owens.  •  Music by: Craig Armstrong.
       After surviving a deadly gamma radiation accident, scientist Bruce Banner travels the world in search for a cure to his inner force of rage that turns him into a massive green monster known as the Hulk. Though he is close, Banner must watch out because the malevolent General Ross and his team are searching for him and want to use his condition for military weaponry. Running out of time and options, Banner turns to his old flame Betty Ross for help. Meanwhile, a new threat rises as a power hungry soldier turns into a deadlier and more terrifying beast that can match even the Hulk's powers.

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Image from: Incredible Hulk, The (2008)
Image from: Incredible Hulk, The (2008)
Image from: Incredible Hulk, The (2008)
Image from: Incredible Hulk, The (2008)
Image from: Incredible Hulk, The (2008)
Image from: Incredible Hulk, The (2008)
Image from: Incredible Hulk, The (2008)
Image from: Incredible Hulk, The (2008)
Image from: Incredible Hulk, The (2008)
Image from: Incredible Hulk, The (2008)
Image from: Incredible Hulk, The (2008)
Image from: Incredible Hulk, The (2008)
Image from: Incredible Hulk, The (2008)
Image from: Incredible Hulk, The (2008)
Image from: Incredible Hulk, The (2008)
Image from: Incredible Hulk, The (2008)
Believe it or not, I'm one of the few who liked ("liked" is italicized) Ang Lee's 2003 film version "Hulk," which saw the first major screen adaptation of the famed Marvel Comics character co-created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962. Lee co-created a number of characters for Marvel Comics that defied traditional superheroes before them who were perfect and idealized, and instead were flawed and imperfect, and had much more dramatic potential than any other comic book superheroes at that time.

Of course the Incredible Hulk has severe anger-management issues, which has set him apart from his Marvel Comics superhero brethren; Bruce Banner (played here superbly by Edward Norton, although I do miss Eric Bana) is a genius, but sensitive and emotionally withdrawn physicist who is exposed to a lethal dose of gamma radiation and that while showing no outward physical damage to his body, forces him to transform into the monstrous green brute the Hulk when enraged - "don't make me angry, you wouldn't like me when I'm angryHulk Smash!" - giving rise to a Marvel Comics version of a JekyllHyde relationship.

This character first saw light in Ang Lee's film five years ago, but that film was much-maligned by many fans of the comics and critics. I'm proud to say that I wasn't on the "hate 'Hulk'" bandwagon in '03. But now, Lee is gone. Replacing him is an entirely new cast and crew that draws much of its inspiration in "The Incredible Hulk" directly from the Marvel Comics Stan LeeJack Kirby source material. Like "Iron Man," this film marks the second time Marvel is calling all the shots on a movie production.

In the director's seat this time, is the French Louis Leterrier, who directed martial arts sensation Jet Li in the utterly spectacular "Unleashed" in 2005. To their credit, Norton and Leterrier have sold their film well to this eager movie-going public. While I'll admit that Lee's 2003 film had many faults, it was not entirely unwatchable, and was brilliantly acted and directed and really explored the many troubled layers of its troubled protagonist Bruce Banner.

Like many superhero films of late, "The Incredible Hulk" is a sequelreboot of Lee's earlier film - replacing the entire cast and crew of the first movie - and takes place five years afterward: Banner is on the run in South America, and is now a day-laborer at a bottling plant in Brazil. On the run from the U.S. military and General Ross (William Hurt) and having to leave behind his beloved Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) - General Ross's daughter - Banner spends his days trying to rid himself of his curse, meditating, and desperately e-mailing an anonymous American scientist back home information about his condition.

Meanwhile, General Ross is stepping up his efforts to capture Banner at all costs and use his blood to create an army of super-soldiers. To this end, he's hired a Russian-born mercenary named Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) to help him. When a confrontation between Banner and Blonsky's men forces Banner to reveal his Big Green alter-ego, that's when Blonsky takes it upon himself to be ready for round-two. Ross has Blonsky injected with an experimental super-soldier serum to be able to fight the Hulk on his terms next time the two meet face to face. But Blonsky craves more power, and eventually is able to get hold of Banner's gamma radiation-contaminated blood to transform himself into Abomination, and then get ready for a mutant-powered, Japanese monster movie-style CGI showdown in Harlem.

"The Incredible Hulk" does the incredible and is a massively superior second installment to a franchise that up until its release this year seemed to be at a stalemate. Maybe the reason I was not so disappointed with "Hulk" in 2003 is because I'm not a reader of The Incredible Hulk comics (those who have read my reviews of superhero movies know that Spider-Man is my all-time favorite superhero). But Leterrier and his crew have sealed the deal here. Leterrier has made "The Incredible Hulk" the cinematic equivalent of a well-oiled machine: a masterful, well-paced, and action-packed superhero film that doesn't play dumb to its characters or audience. This is not your typical comic book superhero film: it's dark, it's thematic, and it's much more intense in its action and special effects. Speaking of special effects, this CGI Hulk (voiced by '70s television Hulk Lou Ferrigno, who also shares a cameo credit as a security guard), is much more streamlined and fluid and three-dimensional, a true force to be reckoned with this time out. Norton is the film's emotional centerpiece. He proves to be an unlikely but certainly trustworthy Bruce Banner.

What I liked especially about this film was its emotional content. It's clear that Bruce Banner and his CGI alter-ego Hulk have anger management issues. He's cursed. He has some of the worst luck of any superhero in the entire Marvel Comics Universe. Don't make him angry, because, you wouldn't like him when he's angry. Because of that, he's his own worst enemy. Of all superheroes out there saving the world, he's always trying to get rid of his "gift" (or curse), and failing miserably every time. (Who said that superheroes had to be perfect, all the time?) There are a number of well-acted moments between Norton and Tyler, as they both try to rekindle a doomed love affair that makes up the film's emotional core. I haven't been drawn into one such love affair since "Spider-Man 2" (2004), my favorite superhero film of all time and my #2 favorite movie of all time.

This movie isn't perfect, of course. It has many attributes that make it much stronger than "Hulk." The cast could from that film could have been reused here, but it's Hollywood; they always win. Still, "The Incredible Hulk" does the "incredible" and then some.


Review by dee.reid from the Internet Movie Database.