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Hulk (2003)

Updated on November 30, 2009

One of the most under appreciated superhero films of our times

Ang Lee brings his unique take on "The Incredible Hulk" to the big screen. The movie is based off the popular Marvel Comic book, about a man that's turned into a monster after being hit with gamma radiation. In the movie, Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) is exposed to chemicals his father put in him as a kid and triggered by a gamma ray accident which inevitably cause him to turn into the Hulk whenever he gets mad. However, the military tries to capture the Hulk, but they prove unsuccessful while Bruce tries to maintain his relationship with his girl friend, Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly) even though her father is the one chasing him. Many fans of the TV show, might not like this film because of the computer animated Hulk, but what they fail to realize is that series was not faithful to the comic book like this one. Don't get me wrong. This film isn't entirely accurate either, but it's more faithful to the series than the TV show ever was. In the comic books, if Hulk got really pissed, then he would grow into a freakin giant. Instead, Lou Ferigno could barely lift up a car in the TV show, where the comic book, had the Hulk throwing tanks. Anyway, I'm not here to pick on the old TV show, but I just wanted to vent out an opinion. As for the film itself, its' major flaw is that it tends not only be over redundant but it also tends to be overly dramatic at times. Ang Lee's concept for the Hulk was unique and good thus separating itself from most super hero flicks, but it seemed like it was bit too overly dramatized. The computer effects for this one was better than I expected. With exception to a few scenes where the viewer can see that the computer Hulk is fake when he's jumping through the desert, most of the time the character seemed very well detailed. Plus, the split screen was a nice touch. Ang Lee's Hulk is extremely unique, but it turns into a depressing overly complex story. No, wonder fans would've prefered the typical, "Hulk, smash!" approach. However, despite its' flaws, "The Hulk" serves as a solid action film.

The love story between Bruce and Betty was solid at the beggining. Eric and Jennifer had some great chemistry in the few scenes they were together. However, it quickly becomes an afterthought as soon as the story shifts to explain Bruce's past. However, in the few scenes they are together, their performances allow the audience to sympasize with the characters. Even after Banner turns into the Hulk, he saves Betty's life and picks her up, which remiscence Betty's dream about Bruce picking her up as a child and then strangling her. These two scenes symbolized how Betty feels about Bruce. Where she cares about him, but fears him because of his beastly alter ego.

Like the comic book series, Bruce comes from an abusive father which later causes him to develop some repressed anger issues when he becomes the Hulk. Not a bad idea, but it takes it too far. I understand Lee wanted to do a artistic style of how we all feel inside when we're angry. Unfortunately, it gets lost as the film keeps repeating that throughout the entire movie, so quite frankly it becomes boring around the end.

The rivalaries between the protagonist, Bruce, and the two antogonists, Gen. Thaddeus Ross, and David Banner/Absorbtion Man (Nick Nolte) were great. In the film, since Bruce was younger, he's been a guy abused by authority figures which vents out as he turns into the Hulk. In one scene, where Thaddeus Ross threatens Banner, it allows the audience to feel the intensity of the situation. In another scene, when Talbot picks on Banner in his house, the viewer is able to see how Bruce's passive nature allows people to walk over him. However, when he turns into the Hulk, it turns into one action packed thrill ride.

The computer effects were great. Perhaps one of the most visually stunning films ever made.

However, the main bright spot for this film is Ang Lee. Even though he over dramatizes the film. It's rather obvious he was trying to make a great super heroe film that was truly unique about the human nature. Its' theme may not be as clear as X-Men, which embodies racism, Superman, as a savior, or even Spider-Man, an average everyman, but it manages to distinguish itself successfully. Creating a solid theme about our hidden anger issues we all have.

Ang uses a unique approach to the character. Displaying an impressive array of special effects. Eric Bana and Connelly weren't bad either. Despite being too much like a soap opera at times, this film should keep any comic book fan entertained.


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    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 7 years ago

      @rod marsden

      Well Rod, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree then, as I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with us, and reading my review. As far as what you said about the 2nd Hulk film, I have to disagree with you. from the way you make it sound, you make it sound like no non comic fan could possibly fathom the plot of the sequel. which is funny because EVERY person that i spoke to that liked the "Incredible Hulk", over half of them never read the comic books or seen the original tv series. therefore, that kind of kills off your little theory there, as i think your giving the second film way more credit than it deserves. i can understand you saying that a movie like "Shutter Island", but "The Incredible Hulk" has a fairly straight forward simplified story at best. In fact, the film deliberately rips off certain elements from "Iron Man", so the story isn't as complex as your making it out to be. Not that I'm saying your wrong for thinking that, but just voicing my opinion that's all.

      Anyway, as far as what you said about the "Hulk" film being boring. I can definitely see why you would say that. However, I would hardly call it boring though. I just think Ang focused too much on the psychological side of Bruce Banner's life too much than what most fans were accustomed to seeing in the tv series and/or comics. therefore, it didn't get as well received. however, i still liked it though. it was certainly MORE original in terms of content than the sequel. although the sequel did have a lot of cool fight scenes.


      as usual, great minds think alike. for some reason, I thought i replied to both you and fierycj on this hub, but i guess i didn't my bad. lol. anyway, thanks again for stopping by.


      lol. sadly, with the way superhero films are now these days, i wouldn't be surprised if that IS the formula. although there have been a lot of good ones recently too like "Dark Knight" and "Iron Man" to name a few. sorry, like i told satomko, i thought i replied to you, but i guess not,. man i need to keep more track of my comments. lol

    • Rod Marsden profile image

      Rod Marsden 7 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

      I know this movie had some whiz bang special effects but it was really slow at getting to the action. I agree with fierycj to some extent. We all know how the hulk came to be. In fact there are two versions. There's the comic book version from the '60s and then there is the television version. In both cases the origin didn't put me to sleep. Over doing it with an explanation when what you are trying to achieve is suspension of disbelief for bogus science doesn't do much. We know there's no such thing as a gamma bomb. We know that high doses of any kind of radiation is more likely to kill the recipient than turn them into a not so jolly green monster. We know this yet for a good story we will play what if with you. This taken for granted, there is no reason to bore us with lots of unneeded shoring up of the fiction element through more unreal science. My thoughts at any rate.

      The 2nd Hulk movie was heaps better but I am afraid that only old Marvel fans like me might be able to understand some of it because we have the background knowledge.

    • satomko profile image

      Seth Tomko 8 years ago from Macon, GA

      While this Hulk movie suffers from some fan expectations I think the film is solid enough so that on a second viewing its real merits stand out.

    • fierycj profile image

      fierycj 8 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa

      Here's what I think about Hulk - all fans of the comic expected a blow out smash out all mean action, instead they spent all the time telling us a story we already knew. This strategy backfired, turning people who would have been potential followers away from the movie. Now Spiderman and X-men had the recipee - spend a few minutes and tell the story, then Boom! Get on with the ass kicking! That's how its done!