The Film:  The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The Principles:  Louis Letterier (Director).  Edward Norton. Liv Tyler. Tim Roth. An army of pixel movers.

The Premise: 
Dr. Bruce Banner, belted by gamma rays, turned into The Hulk. Ain’t he unglamo-rays! Wreckin’ the town with the power of a bull, ain’t no monster clown who is as lovable as ever-lovin’ Hulk, Hulk, Hulk!

Is It Good: 
Yes. More or less. Mostly! Look, The Incredible Hulk isn’t perfect. The movie has some pacing issues, and I think that elements of the script feel half-baked (or pulled out of the oven, perhaps by an enthusiastic star, before they could get fully baked. Or something. An analogy like that), but Louis Letterier’s film offers pulse pounding Hulk action in the great Marvel tradition. Say what you want about the Ang Lee Hulk (I’m against it), but even the film’s defenders must admit it ends with the Hulk fighting a fucking cloud. In The Incredible Hulk the movie ends with Hulk fighting a huge ass monster with nasty bone spurs.

You can pretend that this movie takes place in continuity with Ang Lee’s, but the opening credits really throw that out the window (even though the movie starts in the same geographical region where that movie ended). The film’s real continuity is with movies that haven’t come out yet; the Super Soldier Serum, a component of The First Avenger: Captain America, shows up, and at the end Tony Stark walks into the film to discuss The Avengers (for those anally retentively keeping score, The Incredible Hulk is set after Iron Man 2).

And while Letterier’s film may not have a scene as flat out awesome as Ang Lee’s Hulk bounding through the desert, it does up the action factor considerably. There are some terrific action beats in this film – the favela chase ending with the Hulk fucking up a team of commandos, the assault on the college campus and the final battle in and through the streets of Harlem – and while I do wish that the stuff between these action beats had been tighter, I still really enjoyed the film.

Is It Worth A Look: 
Yes. If you’re a Marvel Movie Universe completist that goes without a doubt. If you’re a fan of action movies, the same. If you’re a fan of big monsters punching each other movies then yes, for sure. I won’t pretend that The Incredible Hulk works on the level of an Iron Man - there were too many cooks in this kitchen and I think that nobody quite figured out how to make the movie in between the scenes of the Hulk smashing. But Letterier is a stylish director who stages interesting action, and can even get you involved in a fight between two completely virtual opponents.

Random Anecdotes: 
I love the intensity of the favela chase. Tim Roth’s body should always be clothed. I like that they included a pizza man best friend for Bruce and Betty. There are some shout outs to the stultifying TV show, but they’re kept manageable. Hulk should have talked more.

Cinematc Soulmates:  Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde. Planet Hulk. Raging Bull