This early entry in the Marvel Universe is not quite as smoothly executed as its brethren. Perhaps it’s that the formula wasn’t quite as established at this point, but director Louis Leterrier seems a bit lost at the helm. His shots are impressive from a technical point of view but he has trouble with narrative flow and momentum, and the editing is choppy to the point of distraction. Additionally, Edward Norton is typically a strong actor but he’s miscast here as Bruce Banner: There’s no levity to his performance, it’s all furrowed brows and pained looks, and he has little chemistry with Liv Tyler so their central romance fall flat. The movie also has a tendency to abandon many of its characters along the way, like Norton’s dog and Tyler’s fiance Ty Burrell, and main villain Tim Roth comes off more insufferable than menacing. It’s not that the movie is bad per se, it’s just that it’s underwhelming, particularly when compared to its immediate predecessor, “Iron Man,” and the whole thing feels like it needed to be cooked longer. As it is, it has its moments, including a great scene at a university campus, but it’s not without its flaws.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)