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The Incredible Hulk
Composed and Co-Produced by:
Craig Armstrong

Conducted and Co-Orchestrated by:
Matt Dunkley

Co-Orchestrated by:
Stephen Coleman
Tony Blondal
David Butterworth
Kaz Boyle

Co-Produced and Engineered by:
David Donaldson

Performed by:
Northwest Sinfonia

Marvel Entertainment

Release Date:
June 13th, 2008

Also See:
The Incredible Hulk (TV)
The Bone Collector
Iron Man

Audio Clips:
CD1: 1. The Arctic (0:32):
WMA (211K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

CD1: 22. Hulk Theme (0:36):
WMA (236K)  MP3 (298K)
Real Audio (210K)

CD2: 8. NYC Cab Ride (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

CD2: 18. Hulk and Betty (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Limited commercial release, available only at (due to an agreement between the retailer and Marvel Entertainment). The double-CD product debuted for a reasonable $17.


The Incredible Hulk
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Sales Rank: 42545

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Buy it... if you prefer your superhero scores to tone back on brute style and develop intelligent layers of orchestral motifs, even if those ideas aren't always obvious.

Avoid it... if you'd rather not have to think when enjoying superhero music, in which case you should seek out Ramin Djawadi's just previous Iron Man.

The Incredible Hulk: (Craig Armstrong) The Marvel universe has struck back with a vengeance in 2008, providing a pair of interconnected films (led by Iron Man) sure to erase bad memories of previous ventures and open the doors to several sequels. The long history of the story of Dr. Bruce Banner on screen originates in the popular 70's/80's television series "The Incredible Hulk" and includes the far less convincing Ang Lee adaptation Hulk to cinemas in 2003. With 2008's The Incredible Hulk, Marvel and Universal essentially forget all about the Lee failure and concentrate on re-inventing the character in a fashion that gives no thought to the events of 2003. By the start of French director Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk, Banner has already fled to South America to escape capture and look for a cure to his genetically altered state. When discovered by the American military after a temper flare-up, Banner's return to the United States reunites him with his lost love and ultimately sets him up for a showdown with the military and one particular villain who himself will become a hulk-like mass in order to complete the capture. Not only does this rearranged adaptation connect The Incredible Hulk to the larger Marvel universe (with a crowd-pleasing cameo at the end that almost steals all of this film's thunder), but it's also very loyal to the original television series. Lou Ferrigno, Stan Lee, and even Bill Bixby are integrated into the film, as are some iconic scenes and musical motifs. Scottish composer Craig Armstrong received the assignment for The Incredible Hulk because of Leterrier's appreciation for his music and confidence that Armstrong's orchestral techniques would be well suited for the occasion. One of Armstrong's first actions upon being hired was to purchase a copy of the 2003 film, but he wisely decided not to view it. Not only was Lee's film misguided, but Danny Elfman's score for it is widely considered to be among the composer's least inspired (and occasionally inappropriate) superhero work of his career. Armstrong would start with a clean slate, writing demo themes for several characters and especially impressing Marvel with his creative method of providing an identity for the title character himself.

The style of Armstrong's writing has always been one of the easiest to identify in mainstream films of the past ten years. His blend of contemporary electronics, propulsive rhythms, strained and romantic strings, and ethereal chorus are unique to his writing. For The Incredible Hulk, Leterrier emphasized that he wanted primarily an orchestral score, and so the composer's usual electronic samples and loops are largely absent from the work (despite some synthetic augmentation in parts). Absent completely is the chorus that Armstrong typically incorporates. Instead, he relies heavily on the other two trademarks of his writing: rolling rhythms and strident strings. Because of time constraints, Armstrong ended up writing most of the score at Remote Control in Los Angeles (though the result is nothing like you'd usually hear from the Remote Control factory of clones) and recording it with 73 players in Seattle. While a rewarding process that was met with enthusiasm by Marvel and Universal along the way, not to mention Leterrier's perpetual support, Armstrong reportedly is heading off into his classical concert writing for a while, taking a break from his scoring duties. Nothing could keep him from The Incredible Hulk, however, for it was one of the composer's favorite shows as a child. The result of his inspiration is interesting in all of its parts, brilliant in some while serviceable in others. Armstrong almost writes a score that is too intelligent for the concept, concocting and interweaving themes for both halves of Banner's personality, the collaboration between villains played by William Hurt and Tim Roth, and the love interest between Banner and Betty Ross. It's the complicated mingling of the themes that sacrifices easy entertainment for an intriguing and intellectual listening experience. Most of the nuances of Armstrong's work are the kind that could easily be missed on album, which doesn't bode well for most of them in the film itself. That lack of clarity is by far the score's greatest weakness. Still, when especially compared to most of the comic book superhero scores of this era, Armstrong's take on The Incredible Hulk concentrates heavily on the duality in character that so many other composers fail to adequately address nowadays.

The highlight of Armstrong's work for The Incredible Hulk is his strikingly simple idea for Banner's ill-tempered side. Heard immediately in "The Arctic" and "Main Titles" and flourishing in the monster's multiple appearances throughout the film (along with a couple of suite arrangements on album), this frightfully basic idea is perfect for the "smashing" mentality of the character. Conveyed on well-enunciated layers of strings, this theme forcefully opens on a "C" note, the most primordial of opening locations, and bounces up and down through octaves with sharp glissandos of distinctly menacing attitude. The octave steps are smartly incorporated underneath higher string ostinatos that often allude to the theme for the normal state of Banner's character. By "Harlem Brawl" and "Hulk Smash" in the final battle sequences of the film, the bass string and cello theme for the Hulk pounds its way through yearning harmonic performances on violins that both address Banner's low key theme, or otherwise Armstrong's own "lonely man theme," while also stating pieces of the love theme. That love theme is first heard partly in "Return to Culvery University" and in full in the bittersweet "Reunion." This theme continues to develop throughout the film in unexpected ways, adapted by Armstrong to serve more action-oriented purposes during scenes when Betty and the Hulk share screen time. While the score closes with significantly tender expressions of the theme, perhaps its most heartbreaking moment comes on strings in "I Can't." Unfortunately, while Armstrong intelligently works this thematic idea into the bulk of the score, it's not among the most compelling romantic themes of his career. Even in the suite "Bruce and Betty," which is adapted into the film in parts, the theme fails to leave a strong impression (especially when compared to Banner's conflicting motifs). The material for the Emil Blonsky (technically two different themes) and a motif for the science behind the mutations also suffer from anonymity problems because of Armstrong's wickedly powerful ideas for Banner and the Hulk. The brass theme for the Abomination, which is also happy in its anchoring to notes on key, gets short-changed because of its infrequent need in the story.

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One area in which Armstrong doesn't forget to nod to the franchise's past is in the use of a piano to create the ambience of his "lonely man theme." This usage, along with some similar progressions, will remind listeners of the melodramatic title theme to The Bone Collector. Armstrong does use Joe Harnell's famous television "lonely man theme" on piano in "Bruce Goes Home," a touching tribute, albeit brief. Another moment worth mentioning is "Who's We?," the cue for the aforementioned crowd-pleasing connection to another franchise in the Marvel Universe at the end of the film. It's interesting that in the crescendo during this brief cue, Armstrong provides a more convincing superhero progression than was provided the cameo character in his own film (which, despite being considered the better film, features a truly wretched Remote Control-style score). Aside from the merits of the music, there has to be some discussion about the release of The Incredible Hulk on album. Because the director considered the score to be so good, he convinced Marvel to allow for a full, double-CD release of the complete work. This product would be pressed on an on-demand basis only at the online retailer, which understandably confused some listeners trying to find the product at a local store. The method of release (which includes CDR's and professionally printed packaging) allowed for the score to receive this kind of full treatment, for which Armstrong included material ultimately removed from the film (such as the opening "The Arctic" piece, a very good cue) as well as two suite variations of the "End Credits" suite (the one in the picture is the synthetics-dominated version on the second CD... the weaker one of the two, unfortunately, but likely better appealing to the mainstream). The one hour and fifty minutes of material can become burdensome, especially with the sheer volume of the many ambitious, layered action cues. The sound quality of the CDR's, however, is very strong, and given that it's possible that and Marvel won't be offering these CDR's forever, you shouldn't hesitate to purchase one sooner rather than later. Armstrong's score isn't the best in the superhero genre, but it certainly beats Elfman's 2003 Hulk and has an intelligence, title theme, and orchestral performance that will not fail to impress you. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Craig Armstrong reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.73 (in 11 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.34 (in 44,294 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.32 Stars
Smart Average: 3.27 Stars*
***** 98 
**** 123 
*** 99 
** 61 
* 58 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Alternate Review at Best Original Scores
  orion_mk3 -- 3/4/15 (1:35 p.m.)
   Huh? The same thread exists at the 2003 Hul...
  Orange Thrush -- 5/31/12 (4:26 p.m.)
   Re: The Hulk's Penis
  mastadge -- 5/31/12 (4:20 p.m.)
   Re: The Hulk's Penis
  Edmund Meinerts -- 11/20/09 (1:30 a.m.)
   Re: The Hulk's Penis
  Renaud -- 4/16/09 (2:25 p.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings: Total Time: 110:56

CD1 (56:59):
• 1. The Arctic (2:47)
• 2. Main Title (2:39)
• 3. Rocinha Favela (3:11)
• 4. A Drop of Blood (1:35)
• 5. The Flower (2:49)
• 6. Ross' Team (1:33)
• 7. Mr. Blue (1:03)
• 8. Favela Escape (3:35)
• 9. It Was Banner (1:32)
• 10. That is the Target (5:34)
• 11. Bruce Goes Home* (1:25)
• 12. Ross and Blonsky (3:15)
• 13. Return to Culver University (2:39)
• 14. The Lab (1:17)
• 15. Reunion (3:37)
• 16. The Data/The Vial (1:20)
• 17. They're Here (3:07)
• 18. Give Him Everything You've Got (6:08)
• 19. Bruce Can't Stay (1:54)
• 20. First Injection (1:03)
• 21. Is It safe? (1:07)
• 22. Hulk Theme (3:59)
CD2 (53:57):
• 1. Saved from the Flames (0:53)
• 2. Grotto (2:53)
• 3. Arrival at the Motel (1:48)
• 4. I Can't (2:15)
• 5. Abomination Alley (3:56)
• 6. Bruce Found (2:52)
• 7. Bruce Looks for the Data (1:05)
• 8. NYC Cab Ride (1:17)
• 9. The Mirror (1:17)
• 10. Sterns' Lab (4:17)
• 11. Bruce Darted (3:00)
• 12. I Want It, I Need It (1:36)
• 13. Blonsky Transforms (1:16)
• 14. Bruce Must Do It (2:11)
• 15. Harlem Brawl (3:51)
• 16. Are They Dead? (2:40)
• 17. Hulk Smash (2:25)
• 18. Hulk and Betty (1:50)
• 19. A Tear (1:01)
• 20. Who's We? (0:56)
• 21. The Necklace (1:44)
• 22. Bruce and Betty (5:06)
• 23. Hulk Theme (End Credits) (3:59)

* includes "The Lonely Man" written by Joe Harnell and performed by Craig Armstrong

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film, but despite advertised as being produced on-demand, the packaging does appear professionally printed. The listing includes the following disclaimer:
    "This is the official soundtrack to The Incredible Hulk. It is manufactured by, under license from Marvel Entertainment, using the original master recordings. This product is manufactured on demand using CD-R recordable media.'s standard return policy will apply."

  All artwork and sound clips from The Incredible Hulk are Copyright © 2008, Marvel Entertainment. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 7/3/08 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2008-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.