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Movie Review: “The Incredible Hulk”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 6/13/2008

Theatrical Release: 6/13/2008

Synopsis

When a science experiment went horribly wrong, Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) was exposed to deadly amounts of radiation. However, what should have killed him ended up doing something else entirely. When he is calm and his heart rate is low, Bruce is absolutely fine, perhaps even better than ever. However, when he becomes angry and his heart rate becomes elevated, he turns into the giant, green, and destructive rage monster known as the Hulk. Instead of killing Bruce, the radiation made him stronger, but it has forced him into a life on the run.

Bruce is in love with a woman named Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), a fellow scientist and his partner during the experiment that went horribly wrong. He took on all the radiation himself, protecting Betty, but her father is not exactly grateful. General Ross (William Hurt) sees the Hulk as a security threat, but more importantly, he sees the Hulk as a great threat to his daughter’s safety, given how close Bruce is with her. Beyond that, General Ross sees the unstoppable force that is the Hulk, and theorizes that if it can be controlled and duplicated, the U.S. military can use it as a weapon. Thus, with Bruce on the run, General Ross has tasked a special unit, led by the ruthless, power-hungry Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth), to track Bruce down, subdue him, and bring him in. Bruce is devoted to keeping Betty safe, so he must find a way to fix himself so that he can live a normal life, but he also knows the great power within him, and he knows he has to do whatever he can to keep the monstrous Hulk out of the military’s hands.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

The Origin (+3pts)

Betty Ross (-3pts)

Bruce & The Hulk (+5pts)

Emil Blonsky (-3pts)

Hulk Action (+8pts)

General Ross & The Hulk (-2pts)

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Pro: The Origin (+3pts)

We have seen superhero origin stories before, and we have even seen origin stories for this character specifically. It has not been done quite as many times as perhaps Batman, but it has been done before and we did not need to see it again. Thus, I appreciated that the filmmakers of this movie skipped right over it. They threw a montage of Bruce’s origin during the opening credits—for the few audience members unfamiliar with the story—but when the movie actually began, Bruce Banner had already had the accident, he had already become the Hulk, and he had already started his life on the run. The movie kicked off with Bruce in hiding, and they let us dive right into this story, rather than waste the first third of the movie showing us what we already knew would happen.

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Con: Betty Ross (-3pts)

Let us ignore the fact that this movie was only separated by five years from The Hulk, which was all about Bruce Banner and his love for Betty Ross, while being a destructive monster being hunted by General Ross and the military. Even ignoring the other movie and looking at the romance in this movie on its own, there was unfortunately nothing special or unique about it, especially when compared to the unique potential love-interest that was Pepper Potts in Iron-Man. On top of that, the filmmakers decision to not show Bruce’s origin meant that they had to skip over establishing Bruce and Betty’s relationship before the incident, which made it hard to connect with Bruce’s passion for Betty afterward. On top of that I did not feel the chemistry between the two actors, so I did not buy them as potential love-interests when we eventually saw them on screen together.

It all made it pretty hard to care about this romantic storyline. In my opinion, the filmmakers had two real solutions to this problem. The first option would have been to kill Betty off in the incident that led to Bruce fleeing the country, after which they could have made the story about Bruce’s guilt and General Ross’ mission to serve justice. The other option that came to mind would have been to just take Betty out of the movie entirely, keeping the romance entirely off-screen, and making Betty Bruce’s motivation for solving the Hulk problem, but not really focusing on her within the context of the movie. Regardless of what the filmmakers could have or should have done, the unfortunate fact was that I thought Betty Ross was one of the weaker aspects of this movie.

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Pro: Bruce & The Hulk (+5pts)

Bruce’s story was one that I thought was inherently interesting. It was a story about a guy—Bruce—who was cursed with a seemingly uncontrollable, unstoppable, and unlimited power, and he knew the danger it posed to everyone around him. He also knew the danger it would pose, should it wind up in the wrong hands, so he was desperate to find a cure. I also liked how the filmmakers explored just how difficult it would be to keep from going green, as we got to see Bruce trying everything he could think of to control his emotions, and he sometimes failed anyway. There were also the incredibly satisfying scenes, in which Bruce unleashed the Hulk on those who just would not leave him alone, but I will get into that later. My point here is just that I enjoyed seeing Bruce trying so desperately to keep the monster in its cage. It made the character compelling, and it made the scenes in which the Hulk was actually unleashed so much more satisfying than they would have been if Bruce was just running around, unleashing the Hulk upon anyone who looked at him the wrong way.

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Con: Emil Blonsky (-3pts)

This character was cool, but his story was very one-dimensional. He wanted to be the most dangerous, most powerful guy out there, and he felt inadequate and insecure with the Hulk running around, which is a ridiculous notion—that one would compare oneself to the Hulk. He wanted the Hulk’s power for himself, and that was really the extent of his story. The filmmakers could have gone deeper into what made him so insecure, and they could have made him an interesting character who found himself playing with fire, and forces he did not understand. Instead, they kept his story very shallow, and it made him a bland antagonist.

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Pro: Hulk Action (+8pts)

My only complaint about the Hulk was that he looked like a video game character, and while the CGI looked pretty good, it always felt a bit off. Nonetheless, I thought the action involving this character was awesome. There was the horror-esque factory sequence, involving the bullies and Blonsky’s men in a dark factory with the Hulk on the loose. This scene was mostly kept in the dark, and you will never really see the Hulk, but the filmmakers really leaned into the monster aspect of the Hulk, and the terror one might feel when roaming around in the dark with the Hulk coming after them.

The factory scene in the beginning of the movie was a really cool scene, but the action involving the Hulk later on in the movie was even better. General Ross and Emil Blonsky utilized every military resource that they had at their disposal, and it was awesome to see the Hulk going up against all of it. It was cool, exciting action, and it was great to see the antagonists become cocky when they thought they found something that would stop the Hulk, and then become shocked every time they were proven wrong. Then there was the final, destructive, climactic fight sequence, which was an exciting, action-packed finish to the movie. The filmmakers used the Hulk somewhat sparingly, and kept the movie focused on Bruce’s story, but they definitely delivered a number of exciting, explosive action sequences that will satisfy anyone looking for some awesome Hulk action.

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Con: General Ross & The Hulk (-2pts)

Much like my issue with Betty Ross, General Ross and his pursuit of the Hulk was a storyline that had just been done within five years of this movie. I understand that five years is not an incredibly short amount of time, but given how many different stories the filmmakers of this movie could have told about the Hulk, it seemed a little silly to tell a story that had been done already, and not that long ago. Additionally, even if you have not seen the other movie, or if you have not seen it recently, this storyline will still be nothing special. General Ross wanted to capture the Hulk, as he claimed he wanted to keep Betty safe, but really he was after the Hulk to study it, and potentially use it as a weapon—whether that meant controlling Bruce Banner’s Hulk, or creating Hulk-like creatures of his own. It made it so that even if you had not seen the other movie, the General Ross of this one was little more than your stereotypical selfish, greedy, and power-hungry antagonist.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B- (83pts)

This was the second movie in the MCU, and while it kind of feels like the misfit of the MCU due to the casting issues surrounding Bruce Banner, it was still a decent movie. I liked how the filmmakers focused on Bruce trying to keep the Hulk in its cage, and I liked seeing how Bruce handled the various potential triggers he faced. I also liked the filmmakers decision to skip over the origin, and the Hulk action was as awesome and satisfying as you would want it to be. Unfortunately, the movie was not all great.

I thought both antagonists were weak points for the movie, as both were stereotypical power-hungry antagonists, and were not very interesting. I thought Betty Ross was another weak point, as the filmmakers did not give her and her romance with Bruce enough development to justify putting her in here. The result was a romance that felt bland, and left me thinking she should have taken out of the movie all together—that or they should have shown her and Bruce’s relationship before the incident, so we had some emotional investment in their romance. The movie had some weak points, but I liked Bruce’s story here, and I thought the Hulk action provided a lot of exciting, and awesome moments. It is the forgotten child of the MCU, and while it definitely could have been better, it also could have been a lot worse.

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