****THIS REVIEW IS EXCLUSIVELY FOR NON COMIC BOOK READERS****
Ten years and 17 films later, unlike Iron Man, this one seems to be forgettable. The major reasons are not that it was a stupid film, but merely due to Mark Ruffalo being re-casted as Hulk in The Avengers, which felt like an unofficial reboot for the character. Nothing about this film is mentioned, apart from the super soldier stuffs in Captain America : The First Avenger. None of the characters, except Hulk, of this film has been reintroduced or referenced in any MCU film after this, not till date. The film does tie up well with other films which came out after this, but rest of the thing .... it just feels like "there was a Hulk movie in MCU" and that's it.
First and foremost, it doesn't have that typical MCU tone. It really feels like another Hulk film, which was pretty enjoyable and quite watchable. A good thing was that it "montaged" the origins story right in the beginning, which meant we will get to know his origins and we will get a typical "superhero in action" film. The film holds up to this, we do get a good (not excellent or great, but good) Hulk film with appreciable actions (the final two especially) and a little character story. The film, unlike the present day MCU films lack stupid and cheesy one liners, but do have some comedic parts which do not really fit well in the parts they appear. And some Hulk moments like he couldn't get physical due to his condition and how he claps to prevent the helicopter from catching up the fire felt too much and a bit cringe-worthy. The villain (Blonsky) has a good build-up. He is more believable than Stane from Iron Man. But him wanting to become Hulk and the new "super soldier" and all that stuff feels like "I am a supervillain of a superhero film, I need a superpower" stuff, just for the finale fight. His motivations are indicated, but nothing explains the reasons behind them properly. Apart from these things, the film is overall above average-ish. The story flows very fluently and nothing really seems too rushed, except for some parts of Blonsky getting converted into Abomination. And one surprising thing was the romance between Betty and Banner. It served as an integral part of the story and isn't cheesy at all. The romance part was really good. I am still surprised that a romance served a good purpose in a superhero film. It didn't feel unnecessary.
All in all, watchable. But the parts I didn't like could've been made better. Edward Norton as Hulk was good. If only we could've got him as Hulk in the films after this, the film would have aged well with time. Mark Ruffalo as Hulk is very good, I admit. But for this film to mean something more, Norton should've still been the Hulk. Liv Tyler and Tim Roth were really impressive. It was still a standalone film like Iron Man, had a build-up to Avengers towards the end, though it ties up with first Captain America film in the MCU, but obviously a lot less likable.
Score : 7.1/10
Grade : B+