on September 8, 2003
I've been collecting comic books since I was eight years old (I'll stop when I die) so I was interested to hear Ang Lee would direct the Hulk movie. Having now seen the film, though there've been many changes made to the character's history, I feel they did a pretty darn good job capturing his essence.
First major change, Bruce no longer develops the gamma bomb for the military. I guess the writers thought it would be too difficult to build sympathy for a character who spends his days building bigger and better ways to slaughter thousands of people. Now Bruce's metamorphosis is triggered by a combination of experiments performed on him as a child by his scientist father, and a lab accident. While this may sidestep the whole issue of building sympathy for a weapons designer, we lose that overriding, powerful image of the Hulk being born at the heart of a nuclear bomb blast.
In the comics, Bruce's father was even more of a monster than in the movie. Bruce Banner was a seriously abused child - we're talking his entire childhood was a living hell of physical/emotional abuse, and watching the same delivered upon his mother. In the movie, though the father experiments upon his son, and eventually, accidentally kills his wife, versus Bruce's comics father - who beat his wife to death, and it was NOT an accident - he's comparatively decent.
Of course, that doesn't make him a nice guy. Nick Nolte was an inspired choice to play the father. Even his good guys are psycho a-holes. Give him a character who's a psycho a-hole to start with and he really goes to town.
In the comics, the Hulk is basically an expression of Multiple Personality Disorder, Bruce Banner's rage over what happened to him as a child - repressed his entire life - finally released into the world as a separate personality, a different body, by gamma radiation.
An idea put forth in the movie, that to my knowledge has never been used in the comics - and I find this fascinating - is that Bruce feels a JOY, a release when he becomes the Hulk. On some level, this repressed man delights when he's finally able to lash out at a world that's dealt with him so cruelly.
Yes, this is a dark movie. Bruce Banner is Marvel Comics' Job. Really, given everything he's been through, he should have committed suicide years ago. The only thing he has going for him - and this is a biggie - he has the love of a good woman. This is his lifeline, what keeps him sane, gives him a reason to go on living. And this was communicated well in the movie.
I've been an Eric Bana fan since his amazing performance in Black Hawk Down. Bana was a good choice to play Bruce Banner; he was able to project the sense of Banner's pain. The only gripe I have with Eric as Bruce is that in the scenes where we see him stripped down, this guy does not have the body of a shy, bookish scientist nerd. He has the body of a Delta Force troopie.
Jennifer Connelly brought her customary sensitivity and intelligence to her portrayal of Betty Ross. I'm shocked, though, at how thin she looks throughout the film. It's like she's actually been listening to the idiots who've opined, over the years, her bounteous curves made her look overweight (as if!). Watching this movie, I was struck with the urge to take her out to dinner, not out of a desire to get lucky, just to feed her a decent meal.
I agree with the statement that Sam Elliot was born to play Thunderbolt Ross.
The notion of the Hulk fleeing through the New Mexico desert, being hounded by Thunderbolt Ross, tossing around tanks, etc. had become a cliche' in Marvel Comics before the Sixties were out. I was surprised to see how much power those images, those ideas, had when translated onto the movie screen. During those scenes, I was just sitting there going, "Oh my God."
The CGI Hulk looked great. I was impressed at how believable he seemed.
Really, the only major complaint I have about this movie, that cost it its 5th star, was the frequent use of split-screen technique during many key scenes, especially early on. It's difficult to suspend your disbelief when the director is constantly calling your attention to the fact this is Just a Movie with such flashy techniques. Really, I expected better from Ang Lee.
on November 16, 2003
The "Hulk" is a good movie, often times great. The first half of the movie is a long, methodical character study of people under immense emotional torture, especially Bruce Banner (a pitch-perfect Eric Bana) and Betty Ross (Jennifer Connely). It is hinted that they share a dark past filled with absentee fathers and a secret military project that they might now be working on again, 30 years later. This first half or so is the reason why the "Hulk" was not well recieved among viewers and critics. People were expecting either another "Spiderman" or another "X-Men" or its sequel, filled with those films' brimming everyman qualities and light-pacing throughout, or the Hulk of the 70s t.v. show, who aided people when he had and anger spell. But director Ang Lee opted for a more tragic approach, with plenty of Freudinized angst, along the lines of repressed memories manifesting themselves in dreams. And while Lee sometimes overdoes it, his decision ultimately makes "Hulk" far more interesting than the t.v. show whose premise wore thin after a few episodes and a little more intriguing than Marvels past comic-book adaptations . However, action junkies need not fear. Things kick into high gear in the film's fast-paced and action-packed final act as Banner escapes from a military compound where they were hoping to harvest him for their own purposes. He then proceeds to tear up the california desert in a wondrously shot sequence that shows off the ILM's incredibly life-like and belivable Hulk creation and the films' unique style of editing that makes the film feel like a comic-book with skillfully juxtaposed images from various camera shots that describe various scenes that occur simaltaneously in the film.
It should be said, though, that "Hulk" is not as artistically accomplished as Director Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" or perhaps other acclaimed films in his catalog. "Hulk" at times suffers from uneven pacing, some mind-numbing psycological probing and timid acting. But overall, "Hulk" stands on its own as a dark, brooding and spectacular comic-book adaption that had the balls to take the "Hulk" to places no one ever expected something like the "Hulk" to go. And while having the guts to do something daring is instantly laudable, "Hulk," even with its flaws, still succeeds surprisingsly well.
on May 15, 2012
It's hard to imagine that there has been or ever will be a super-hero movie that divides as many viewers as Ang Lee's ambitious 2003 filming of THE HULK.
From the pre-release buzz about how Lee had taken a revisionist tact with the origin of the Stan Lee-Jack Kirby Marvel comic book hero, to the first, fleeting -- and unfinished -- glimpses of the all-CGI green one during the Super Bowl, the comics-to- movie community had been eagerly awaiting, and debating, the big-budget film. Early reactions ranged from utter disgust to complete and total admiration, which brings me to my thoughts on the film -- one which ended up being sent to the Marvel scrap heap in lieu of a 2008 movie that pretended (basically) this film never happened.
Before I dive into specifics, I can say that I was first appalled when I heard about the concept of Lee and James Schamus' version. Having grown up on the old Bill Bixby-Lou Ferrigno show, plus the various cartoon incarnations, the idea that Bruce Banner became the Hulk courtesy of his father's attempts to play God, to the mystery surrounding his mother's death, to the Hulk being able to leap tall buildings with a single bound -- all of them were pretty hard to swallow considering my youthful memories of the Incredible Hulk.
While what Lee and Schamus (along with credited co-writers Michael France and John Turman) have come up with is at times too dark for its own good, and is overly bogged down in psychological aspects that don't quite come off, THE HULK is still an ambitious, flawed, but always watchable combination of silly, colorful Marvel Comics action and a study of parents and children and what makes us all tick.
Sound like a jumbled mess? Well, it works better than you might have heard. Eric Bana essays Bruce Banner, a California research scientist who works alongside former lover Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly) in a lab for their betterment of mankind. Their work, though, spurs interest from Josh Lucas, who represents an "evil corporation" that's also associated with Betty's military dad (Sam Elliott). Enter Bruce's long-lost father (Nick Nolte, appropriately disheveled in one of his best performances in years), who has tracked down his son and wants to make good on the experiments he believes are trapped in his son's DNA. Obviously, it's just a matter of time before Bruce is ticked off and his transformation into the Hulk occurs.
When it does, it's a triumph of CGI animation on the part of Industrial Light & Magic, who have fully captured the look and movement of a comic book character on-screen. Unlike the tempering of the X-Men's physical characteristics (i.e. their subdued uniforms), ILM's Hulk isn't a compromise -- it's the animated character captured in its full, colorful glory, and while some may carp that the Hulk doesn't look "real" (as if a 20- foot green creature ever could), I found ILM's work to be tremendous here. The Hulk's facial animation is nothing short of outstanding (he's certainly more emotive than Bana's bland Banner), like a combination of Frankenstein's monster and Ferrigno's old muscular creation, and the level of detail in the creature is astounding.
That aspect of the movie brings with it some completely absurd sequences -- like the Hulk's battle with gamma-radiated dogs -- but they're completely in tune with the kind of action that anyone who grew up reading Marvel Comics will appreciate seeing on-screen. This Hulk does have the ability to leap into the sky, bound off cliffs and ledges, and dismantle anything that comes in his way, but the FX are great and Lee builds the dramatic conflict between father and son up enough that the movie works if you're willing to meet it halfway -- especially in its almost-indescribable, completely "comic book" final confrontation between the two.
Getting to that point does require some patience, as Lee spends a great deal of time establishing the relationships between nutty old man Banner and his bottled up son, not to mention Betty Ross and her military father. It's a little heavy-handed and slow-going at times, but you have to applaud the filmmakers for trying to establish characters and drama in a movie that ultimately turns more outlandish than any comic book film in recent memory.
Nolte's ultimately over-the-top performance goes for broke and fits the movie perfectly, as does Elliott's excellent work as Ross' father. Bana and Connelly are OK but don't have much chemistry with one another, and the former is completely overshadowed by the Hulk once the muscular one takes over. One failing of the film is its notable lack of humor -- there should have been an additional supporting player on-hand for the audience to identify with, since every character is overly brooding and wrapped up in the story.
Visually, THE HULK benefits from Frederick Elmes' fine cinematography and the use of comic book-styled "panels" that keep reminding the viewer that you're watching a comic book movie -- even if the Shakespearian aspects of the script sometimes clash with its pulpy pedigree.
Danny Elfman's music, meanwhile, is always serviceable but comes off as uninspired for the composer, sounding like a compromise between what Lee reportedly wanted (is there some point to the female vocalist who wails away on the soundtrack?) and a by-the- numbers Elfman score that has "auto-pilot" written all over it (the furious "lab montage" motifs reminiscent of "Darkman," the dark and brooding "Batman"-like aspects, the "Planet of the Apes" percussion, etc). While I wasn't a huge fan of Elfman's solid but unremarkable work on "Spider-Man", THE HULK unquestionably sounds like the result of one too many trips to the same well for the composer.
THE HULK is decidedly uneven but constantly surprising and, in the end, highly satisfying from a number of angles. It's a movie that takes a lot of risks and encompasses a wide range of emotions, and while some are more successful than others, it's certainly one of the most audacious attempts at creating a live-action comic-book that can sustain the interest of both adults and kids. Even with its shortcomings, it's a strongly recommended view.
on October 10, 2005
I'll just ask you this: isn't it better to have a trippy, funky, eccentric flick like Ang Lee's "Hulk" than no Hulk movie at all?
Look, let's boil Ang Lee's rippingly fun new movie 'Hulk' down to its core components: it's about brilliant nanotechnological research scientist Bruce Banner who one day, while working in his lab, gets 'belted' by Gamma rays. What should have been a fatal exposure combines with certain---erm, genetic irregularities---to create some major anger management problems for Dr. Banner.
You see, every time he gets angry---really angry---he turns into a big green man. A big green man with expandable purple stretch pants that assist with his modesty during his transformations from Eric Bana into a completely CGI-generated bright green monster.
A big green man that hurls tanks and helicopters about like they were toys. A big green man whose erstwhile captor, General Ross (played competently but shallowly by Sam Elliot), decides to let escape from an underground Area 51-esque base, the better to 'fight him outside.'
Umm, OK. The truth is that Ang Lee brings his stellar cinematic sensibilities (from movies like "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Sense and Sensibility") to Marvel's storied Incredible Hulk: like the little nanites that flow through Bruce's body and the gamma rays, the marriage of Lee to the comic book material results in a whole that is greater---and greener---than the sum of its parts.
'Hulk' is solidly entertaining, visually gorgeous, and---especially for a summer blockbuster---an unusually experimental film that manages to entertain and startle simultaneously.
Those who go to "Hulk" looking for stellar special effects will leave highly satisfied. SEE:
*green gamma-ray mushroom clouds!
*nasty insane killer giant poodles!
*Banner's mad scientist father David, who undergoes some startling transformations of his own (seriously: Nolte doesn't just *chew* scenery in this movie, he absorbs it!)!
*the incredible battle sequences between the Hulk and his tormentors---be they the hideous hulk-Dogs or our brave boys in the US Army---the latter pitted against the real "Army of One"!
The special effects centerpiece award of "Hulk" goes, of course, to the eponymous hero: the Hulk himself is completely computer generated. Does it work?
Actually, the Hulk is one of the superhero pandemic's most sympathetic characters, and displays far more humanity than his alter ego, played with considerable reticence by Eric Bana. The last superhero we saw who was this withdrawn was Michael Keaton's Bruce Wayne.
The acting here is all top-notch, and there aren't any uneven performances: Bana doesn't exactly reprise his "Chopper" performance---he's way too restrained---but then again, he's a nice counterpoint to his lab-destroying Green Inner Child. Jennifer Connelly re-affirms her position as Hollywood's most gorgeous underrated actress. Nick Nolte plays his leering, rasping role to the hilt, and ultimately steals the show.
There are times where the movie gets a little too awkward and goofy for its own good: I'd still love to know where the Hulk gets his one-size-fits-all purple stretch pants. There's Josh Lucas's death scene, in which they freeze frame the horrified Lucas in front of an explosion---highly goofy, but very comic booky, and it works; I laughed, anyway.
The Hulk's surrender scene in downtown San Francisco also makes little sense; after all, if the Big Green Guy is so fond of leaping, why doesn't he just leap out of the way of all those army men and hop over to Oakland?
And speaking of that, what was General Ross thinking when he figures that it's a good idea to let the leap-loving Hulk escape the underground base, reasoning that it will be easier to fight the Big Guy on the surface? Time for a court-martial, Soldier.
But even though the buildup and exposition of "Hulk" makes the movie run a tad long, the film ultimately comes together, a testament to the solidity of its actors, the seamlessness of its CGI, and the talents of both Ang Lee and Director of Photography Fred Elmes, who worked with Lee on "Ice Storm" and has been a long-time DP for David Lynch (his credits include "Eraserhead", "Wild at Heart", and "Blue Velvet")---so it's no wonder that such lurid, dark emotions can be shot on such a visually brilliant palette.
Yes, "Hulk" is a Evil Dad vs. Good Son movie---and like so many other films that used the same device to telling effect (think Star Wars, or even, in a lopsided way, Spider-Man), "Hulk" succeeds at a very primal level.
"Hulk", after all, is about secrets repressed under a banal, nondescript surface, about the rage that lurks within all of us. Ang Lee's "Hulk" says that if it isn't easy being Green, at least it looks good. Just don't make him angry---you wouldn't like him when he's angry.
For any of us brought up with regular overdoses of big, big Lou Ferrigno as the Incredible Hulk on TV, the leap into the computer-created Hulk on the silver screen is a mind-boggling jump indeed. This is a very entertaining movie, and while it may not always make a lot of sense, it brings out the wide-eyed kid in all of us as the far-fetched idea of a secretly genetically-enhanced body of young scientist Bruce Banner get a mighty dollop of gamma-ray contamination, and this sends his biochemistry into serious overdrive. By the time the plot finally winds around to a situation when Bruce gets cornered and suddenly becomes enraged, I found the audience around me cheering for the appearance of the unbelievably big and powerful green monstrosity at last.
The movie is very well made technically, although the same cannot be said for the drama of the piece. So as the Hulk begins his involuntary rampages, we are awed by the pyrotechnics and sheer overkill innate in a creature of such stunning size and power. Indeed, he is a radical bodybuilder's dream, with an upper body to die for, a veritable nightmare of deltoids, pecs, lats, and incredible traps, a guy with biceps so big he could squash a Studebaker with them. Bu this is guy isn't a circus clown intent on entertaining the public for pocket change. This is a tortured soul with plenty of attitude. And the authorities accommodate that attitude by compounding his pain with angst and anger. So the rampage goes on.
Of course, this is all punctuated with the subplots anyone familiar with the comic book series is aware of, and a few new to the twisting and turning plotline. The love interest and humanizing factor in the Hulk's rage is his dimwitted recollection of Banner's erstwhile intellectual foil and main squeeze wanna-be, the lovely Jennifer Connelly, who must be dumbfounded indeed to go from playing the wife of someone with a brilliant mind in her last Oscar winning performance to now being the plaything of a big, brawny green monstrosity here. But she plays it straight, and gives a good performance in a movie that really is a set piece for the big green guy.
Another cast members perform equally as well, and one is impressed by the quality of the cast, which includes people like Sam Elliott, Nick Nolte, and of course, Eric Bana as Bruce Banner, the Hulk's calmer alter-ego. Ther is also a nice cameo by Lou Ferrigno as a Security Chief that provides a nice tribute to his former incarnation as the big green guy himself. I recommend this movie, which I view as a great continuation of the old classic monster movies of the 1940s and 195os. I think we can all rest assured that the Hulk will return for any number of sequels, and long may he rage against the machine! Enjoy!
on December 22, 2004
There are only a few moments when the Hulk actually looks real, but it matters little. Unlike so many comic-book adaptations, Ang Lee's "Hulk" aims for - and brilliantly achieves - another kind of realism: the emotional kind. James Schamus (surely the most under-appreciated champion of quality American films) has penned a superb story which ensures this isn't just another disposable summer film doing the groundwork for a franchise. It's actually ABOUT something: fatherhood, and the legacy we leave our children. Embracing both the Oedipal subtext and the need for thrilling action, Ang Lee, with typical confidence and subtlety, has delivered a film which is both stunningly entertaining and more than a little moving. The trailers hyped the digital effects, but there's so much more here to be enjoyed. Indeed, the trailers gave away absolutely nothing of Act 3 which includes a climactic performance from Nick Nolte which is nothing short of Oscar-worthy. Innovative cinematography and editing are intelligently applied and, as always, Danny Elfman's thrilling score is a perfect match. "Hulk" is a film that can and should be enjoyed again and again - it's subtle, intelligent and above all interesting. What a refreshing change for Hollywood. Teen boys disappointed their expectations weren't met should take a second look at this in twenty years' time - when they're fathers.
on November 7, 2003
The Hulk is a movie with dynamic special effects and far too much drama. This story steered too far away from the Hulk's original origin in order for me to enjoy it. No Rick Jones, no gamma bomb explosion. Sorry the original would have worked much better. Not all of this hub bub with his dad.
This film was marketed as an action film, and what it really is, is over an hour of drama, and about 30 minutes of action. Sorry this didn't work for me.
1) The special effects and actions is top notch.
2) The scenes with the Hulk were fantastic. (there just not enough of them).
3) Sam Elliott and Jennifer Connelly did the best they could with the poor script.
1) struggling through all the drama to see the hulk for the first time.
2) Bad story
3) where is the hulk? is this movie called Hulk or life with the Banner's?
4) some scenes were filmed so dark, it was hard to tell what was going on. (aka Hulk/ gamma dog fight scenes)
Overall, the best reason to buy this DVD is you can go to the track selection and watch the great Hulk scenes, without having to struggle through all the other nonsense. This movie does not compare to Spiderman, Xmen 1 or 2, Batman, or Superman. As a whole, Daredevil was more enjoyable than this.
Buy at your own risk!
on July 23, 2009
I'm not the biggest fan of Ang Lee(I like two other movies by him) but this gem has been denied for far too long. I think people expected this movie to be a brainless blockbuster and were upset when it didnt turn out the way they expected it to be. Hulk is pretty good with a few flaws(which I will mention later). Its definitely better than its given credit for.
The movie details Bruce Banner(Eric Bana)'s coming to be the Hulk. It deals with the Hulk's origin from Bruce's childhood to his teenage years. It also deals with his estranged father(Nick Nolte) coming back into his life. It deals with his relationship with Betty Ross(Jennifer Connelly)and her father Thaddeus(Sam Elliott)hatred for Bruce.
The acting is good all around. Eric Bana gives a heartfelt performance as Bruce Banner. Jennifer Connelly is a sweetheart as Betty Ross and Sam Elliott is perfect as Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross. Nick Nolte is also great as Bruce's eccentric father. Josh Lucas is the quintessential jerk as Talbot.
As much as I like this movie I cant give it five stars because...
Flaws: 1. The numerous attempts to get us to feel sympathy for Bruce being the Hulk. I applaud the effort but it just doesnt work for me. Bruce never hurts a loved one as the Hulk. We can only feel sympathy for him if he hurts everybody he loves as Hulk. But most of the people he hurts had it coming so to get us to sympathize with him is kind of difficult.
2. The split screens. Split screens are useful when there is action. This movie tends to overdue them alot. When there is action split screens are useful but when nothing is happening on screen you waste the effect o split screens.
3. Length. I have no problem with this movie being long but there are some scenes in the movie that are superfluous to the storyline and should have been cut.
Other than that this movie is pretty good. I'll admit that at first viewing I thought it was decent but second viewing I liked it a lot more.
Its definitely better than the instantly forgettable 2008 sequel. And before I leave I must settle this argument. While the 2008 sequel is not bad its not memorable. How can you forget Hulk battling the gamma mutated puppies in this movie? How can you forget the helicopter chase scene? How can you forget Hulk handing Talbot his rear end on a platter? How can you forget the insight about Science and the harmful experiments ran on humans and animals? Hulk 2008 the only thing you remember is a solid performance by Edward Norton and thats it. Instantly forgettable and was brought to you by the same director that gave you the easily forgotten Transporter 2. In conclusion Hulk is an underrated and unappreciated gem from a director that deserved more credit than he got for this movie. 2 thumbs up and thanks a million to everybody that defends this movie.
on November 6, 2005
I think the reviews of Ang Lee's film say more about the reviewer than they do the film. If what you're looking for is slim on story and long on whiz-bang visual effects, then perhaps this "Hulk" is not for you. If you're satisfied by more explosion than exposition, I'd suggest any number of other comic book movies.
Ang Lee has been vilified for creating here a smart, tight, thoughtful movie that just so happens to be about a comic book (anti)hero. Which means that much of its built-in audience is going to be surprised by what they get in this film: a multilayered story that is rich with subtext; excellent performances by award-winning actors; clever dialogue and assured pacing.
In other words, for those who love movies, this is a good one.
Far from perfect, this movie does succumb to summer blockbuster visual effects-itis by the end and for my money it degenerates into noisy racket for the lowest common denominator in the multiplex. However, what fun it is to get there.
This is a much smarter movie than it needs to be, probably better suited to those who are more interested in a good story than to those who want some brainless "pow!" with their butter-flavored popcorn. There is no doubt that Hulk smash- Hulk smash expectations, Hulk smash conventions, Hulk smash the low-set bar for comic book adaptations. Hulk smash.
on September 5, 2008
Ang Lee is a superior director, and this is an introspective film on the nature of anger.
On the commentary Ang Lee mentions that he saw this movie as a "Dream of Anger"; an exploration on the nature of rage and what can cause a feeling that deep to become uncontrollable.
The Hulk is not your standard marvel superhero. In guest appearances he plays the 'Unstoppable Force'. In his own comic he runs from what he can't control. He doesn't put on a suit or fight crime. He is a creature driven by his base impulses. Impulses that take over his mind and body and drive him to do horrible horrible things, things that only later he discovers the consequences for.
Gee, sort of sounds like a metaphor for anger -- which is kind of the point of this film.
People complain about this movie because it's slow, introspective, and the hulk doesn't appear for over an hour of runtime. What they want is to put in a film, see a little bit of romance and some eye candy where things blow up. That is not what is in this film. What *is* in this film (and in my opinion is worth your time) is a study of what one man must do to come to terms with the monster that resides inside of him. This, like all films about hominid-morphs, uses an external monster to represent an internal struggle. This film, like much of Ang Lee's work, represents that struggle very well.
It's not a summer blockbuster. It doesn't have an explosive shiny battle at the end. What it does have is thought-provoking imagery and a complex statement about a complex issue. It is no wonder why your average American didn't like the film. It comes highly recommended for any fans of Ang Lee, and anyone who likes their movies filled with intelligence and metaphor.
All those proud of their ignorance make me angry, and in the words of the Hulk. . .