Published on June 18th, 2003 | by Erich Becker0
Ang Lee’s The Hulk has to be the most stylish film based off of a comic book. Where Blade went balls out to create the perfect transition, X-Men touched on some origin and gave fans what they wanted, and where Spider-Man delivered the first of many chapters based on the amazing character, The Hulk has the style and story to make it the most memorable of all the comic transitions.
The Hulk tells the story of Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) and his alter-ego The Incredible Hulk. After Bruce’s father, David, experiments on himself with his genetic research focusing on regeneration and such, he impregnates his wife with Bruce and fears that he may have passed certain elements of that research on to his son. Bruce only shows certain signs of this genetic manipulation until a lab accident exposes him to a high level of gamma radiation which unleashes the Hulk inside.
What I believe to be the best part of the film is it is much darker than both X-Men and Spider-Man, but not in such a way as Daredevil where the story is completely destroyed by darkness for the sake of making it dark. The Hulk features a very intriguing story that actually creates characters much deeper than previously created in any of the aforementioned movies. Bruce faces the internal conflict of the Hulk being loose when he loses control of his emotions but also has to deal with the realization that his father isn’t dead and a government contracted organization is looking to take over his research. The screen writers need to be given full credit for bringing yet another intellectual movie to the table this summer without shying away from the popcorn movie many comic book fans and critics where expecting.
Yet another strong point of the movie is the supporting cast. Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly) as Bruce’s love interest and, seemingly, the only thing that can calm Bruce down enough to return to normal. The beautiful Connelly delivers a very commendable performance for a film many thought to bring 2D “filler” characters to the table. General Ross (Sam Elliott) as the overbearing father looking to contain this “creature” as a weapon also delivers a great performance and we can see as the film goes on that he feels more and more guilty about what he may ultimately have to do. David Banner played by Nick Nolte (doing his best Whistler impression, no doubt) rounds things out with an outstanding performance as Bruce’s unstable, yet brilliant father looking to obtain the secrets of his son’s transformations to use on himself.
The biggest debate of the film was going to be the CGI no matter now good the actual movie was, but for those looking for a near seamless realism to the character, look elsewhere. The Hulk doesn’t look perfect, but that is how it should be. He is a comic book hero represented on film in the most lifelike manner you could give to a 15 foot, green mass. Overall the computer generated work is excellent, and much better than last year’s Spider-Man. The way the green-meanie interacts with he real world environment (pelted with bullets, running over sand dunes, interacting with other characters) is very well done and you can see a lot of time was placed in making it perfect.
While the story is the best part it also is the biggest drawback in some parts. The movie clocks in at well over two hours which is bordering on the long side of things and there are several points which just seemed to bother me. The film makes a point to show a near zero body count. After The Hulk chucks a tank nearly half a mile into a sand bank the operator stumbles out shaking his head as though he is just dazed. Somehow I think he would be looking for his brain matter scattered all over the interior as the force in which that tank was thrown would have surely done more damage than a simple headache. In fact, as far as I can remember, there is only one causality in the entire film. Somehow this seems like a way to show that Bruce isn’t such a bad guy as The Hulk, he is just angry, but so is Wolverine and he skewered a great many of Stryker’s forces in X2. Also, as you may have heard other places, the ending is atrociously laughable. Going from a heart to heart conversation into a huge battle proved to be the films, “What the?” moment as no one had a clue what was going on. Its just the little things that peck away at your during the movie and bring it down a notch.
What makes this movie so stylish is the cinematography. Utilizing a direct reference to the comic in which the film was ripped, Lee plays with nifty little transitions and the feeling as though you are progressing through “panels” of a comic book. At certain points the camera zooms out to show, seemingly, and entire page of panels and then zooms in on the next appropriate one. Many movies use these types of transitions, and even the multiple camera angles a la “24,” but combined with the panel feel of the film you are left with a giddy sense inside.
You may be surprised that you enjoy The Hulk much more than you want yourself to believe. As the first Marvel comic fully interjected with somewhat believable story and supporting characters to add life you appreciate the work that went into creating such a good film. The action sequences keep you happy, especially the mutant dog attack, and the storytelling draws you in to one of the summer’s best movies thus far. Hold your breath through the completely dumb ending battle and let the rollercoaster slide you in perfectly to the inevitable sequel.