I must admit that in my personal opinion, the Hulk is the least interesting superhero from both the Marvel and DC universes. The idea of having a superhero who's main enemy is himself is far from, well, incredible. But even with this mentality, I was able to thoroughly enjoy The Incredible Hulk for what it was. A major reason this film works is Edward Norton. Much like Robert Downey Jr. represented billionaire playboy Tony Stark in a believable fashion, Norton convincingly plays scientist Bruce Banner. Whoever is in charge of casting for Marvel movie heroes should get a promotion. However, his performance was far from outstanding, as I was hoping to see a little bit more from him. I do not feel he properly acknowledged the potential that his character had. Even so, he was able to keep an air of suspense present throughout the film and his performance felt authentic. Although his performance was very good, it did seem magnificent compared to the complete and utter disaster that was Liv Tyler's Betty Ross. Emotionless, uninvolving, annoying, laughable at the wrong times: these are just a few ways to describe her performance. I would not be surprised if her name appears on the Razzie ballot for Worst Actress. Luckily enough for Tyler, she was surrounded by enough talent in Norton and William Hurt to save basically every scene she appeared in. Hurt plays her army general father Thaddeus Ross, and he did a very believable job of it. He played it with the gruff attitude and stern demeanor that a General would need, especially in periods of distress. Hurt is also accompanied by one of the greatest mustaches I've seen in recent movie history. I think it is accurate to say that William Hurt's mustache provided more entertainment by doing nothing than Liv Tyler did by "acting". The role of Emil Blonsky was very well cast, as Tim Roth did a terrific job with the part. Even though the Abomination isn't the coolest villain around, the character of Blonsky was very interesting to watch, and I sensed that Roth really became this role. At no point did I feel that Roth wasn't trying his hardest to achieve the best results from Blonsky. Tim Blake Nelson plays the eccentric Dr. Samuel Sterns and pretty much does his job. He acts eccentrically. In this film Nelson's role was pretty minor, but if there is a sequel he will be a crucial character.
The Incredible Hulk was directed by Louis Leterrier, who had previously helmed Transporter 2. With that under his belt, it makes sense that the action sequences in The Incredible Hulk were remarkable. There is something about watching two giant blobs of CGI (Hulk and Abomination) hurl cars at each other that is simply awe inspiring. By calling them "two giant blobs of CGI" I do not intend to insult the film, because it really did look fantastic. I only call them that because, well, they are two giant blobs of CGI. But Letterier's direction was very much a mixed bag. Some scenes were shot with such beauty and professionalism that I would be floored with astonishment. But then other scenes would be so cheesy and amateurish that I would shift uncomfortably in my seat thinking "Ouch, that was awkward". Letterier also did something which I cannot stand, and that is overuse dramatic rain sequences. At most, a film could have two dramatic rain sequences, but they MUST be at least 45 minutes apart. Letterier brought us two in a matter of 15 minutes. Yes he can film one hell of an incredible action scene, but the man cannot do serious very well.
A major reason I enjoyed The Incredible Hulk was it's pace. I should also credit director Louis Letterier with an ability to keep a film alive, not allowing it to sag any more than it should at any given time. At just under 2 hours, the time seems to fly by as the story unfolds so steadily you'll find yourself in disbelief that you are already watching the final battle (much like I was). It was said that over 70 minutes of footage was cut from The Incredible Hulk, and thank goodness it was. The 114 minutes in the final print were entertainment enough, we don't need a 3+ hour epic. In the version sent to theaters, every scene had a purpose and no of them were dull. Keep your 70 minutes, we don't want them.
When it comes down to it, the Hulk is the lamest of the superheroes, but this film certainly makes him seem more interesting than he is. Some very good performances and some great directing (50% of the time) really make The Incredible Hulk worth a watch. The dialogue at times is choppy and contrived, but I found myself overlooking that fact. Not without its fair share of flaws, The Incredible Hulk is still a fun summer film with intense action sequences that aren't too dizzying or incomprehensive (::cough:: Spiderman 3 ::cough::). Marvel, you are 2 for 2. My rating (7/10)
Oh, and if you were as excited as I was about the after the credits scene of Iron Man, you're going to love the final two lines of this film. (There is no after credits scene, I figure I'll save you 10 minutes)