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THE INCREDIBLE HULK – Craig Armstrong

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Incredible Hulk is the second time they’ve tried to kickstart Marvel’s ‘Hulk’ character with a big-screen adventure after the popular 1970s TV series starring Bill Bixby; the first, critically maligned movie starred Eric Bana as the ill-fated scientist who turns into a green-skinned monster when he gets angry. This new version is directed by Louis Leterrier stars Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, William Hurt and Tim Roth, and stays more within the traditional realms of the accepted comic book history, with Dr Bruce Banner on the run from the US Government after experiments in gamma radiation and military weaponry left him susceptible to his little problem.

The score for The Incredible Hulk is by Scottish composer Craig Armstrong, who previous worked with director Leterrier on Unleashed in 2005. Armstrong’s score is a combination of balls-out action and bittersweet contemplation, the former underscoring the enormous battle sequences between Hulk and his evil alter ego, and the latter illustrating the loneliness and sorrow of Banner’s life in exile. The opening “The Arctic” sets out the stall well with a series of impressively heroic orchestral crescendos that eventually open up into a menacing, brass-heavy march.

The “Main Title” introduces the serpentine three-note motif for the Hulk, which later re-occurs much more frequently, notably in cues such as “That Is the Target”, “Give Him Everything You’ve Got”, and of course the rampant “Hulk Theme”. Some of the action music is quite superb: rampaging, muscular pieces which throb to relentless electronic rhythms and large orchestral forces. Cues such as “Favela Escape”, “They’re Here”, “Abomination Alley”, “Harlem Brawl” and “Hulk Smash” are very thrilling indeed.

In addition, there are some enjoyable montage/travelling cues which use the music’s energy and internal rhythm to superb effect, a couple of more intimate themes to represent Banner’s interpersonal relationships (such as “Reunion”, “Bruce Can’t Stay”, “I Can’t” the lovely conclusive pair “Hulk and Betty” and “Bruce and Betty”), and even some deliciously melodramatic hero-music in “Bruce Must Do It”, while “The Data/The Vial” and “NYC Cab Ride” revisit the style of the lovely, moody mystery writing heard in the opening Arctic piece to great effect.

It’s also worth noting that Armstrong respectfully tips his hat to Joe Harnell’s classic Lonely Man theme from the TV series in the cue “Bruce Goes Home”. Unusually, virtually all of Armstrong’s 111-minute score was released on the commercial soundtrack, split over two discs: the cues “The Arctic” to “Hulk Theme” comprise the first CD, while “Saved From the Flames” to “Hulk Theme (End Credits)” comprise the second.

Unfortunately, while the music is generally good, it’s such a slog to actually sit and listen to it all in one sitting; I would have much preferred a 40-50 minute album of the highlights to all of this, and as such the rating gets knocked down a notch.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • The Arctic (2:46)
  • Main Title (2:39)
  • Rocinha Favela (3:11)
  • A Drop of Blood (1:35)
  • The Flower (2:50)
  • Ross’ Team (1:33)
  • Mr. Blue (1:03)
  • Favela Escape (3:35)
  • It Was Banner (1:32)
  • That Is the Target (5:33)
  • Bruce Goes Home (1:24)
  • Ross and Blonsky (3:15)
  • Return to Culver University (2:39)
  • The Lab (1:17)
  • Reunion (3:37)
  • The Data/The Vial (1:19)
  • They’re Here (3:06)
  • Give Him Everything You’ve Got (6:08)
  • Bruce Can’t Stay (1:54)
  • First Injection (1:03)
  • Is it Safe? (1:07)
  • Hulk Theme (3:59)
  • Saved From the Flames (0:53)
  • Grotto (2:53)
  • Arrival at the Motel (1:48)
  • I Can’t (2:15)
  • Abomination Alley (3:56)
  • Bruce Found (2:52)
  • Bruce Looks For the Data (1:05)
  • NYC Cab Ride (1:16)
  • The Mirror (1:17)
  • Sterns’ Lab (4:16)
  • Bruce Darted (3:00)
  • I Want It, I Need It (1:36)
  • Blonsky Transforms (1:16)
  • Bruce Must Do It (2:11)
  • Harlem Brawl (3:53)
  • Are They Dead? (2:40)
  • Hulk Smash (2:25)
  • Hulk and Betty (1:50)
  • A Tear (1:01)
  • Who’s We? (0:56)
  • The Necklace (1:44)
  • Bruce and Betty (5:06)
  • Hulk Theme (End Credits) (3:59)

Running Time: 111 minutes 13 seconds

Marvel Music B0019SMSUM (2008)

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