Based on one of the most popular and beloved characters in Marvel Comics, we meet Bruce Banner, a timid and shy scientist who performs experiments on animals using Gamma radiation. An accident in his lab causes the gamma radiation to explode and exposes Bruce to a lethal dose. To the surprise of his girlfriend Betty Ross, he is fine but soon discovers that his suppressed rage, when released, unleashes an incredible large green beast known to him as “The Hulk”. An evil military scientist named Talbot wants the hulk to extract his DNA and create a race of super soldiers. All the while general Ross wants him dead at all costs. Now, Banner must confront his horrible past and come to grips with his curse all the while clashing with his psychotic father David who wants to use the hulk for his own benefit.
I’m a hardcore comic book fan, and when it comes to comic book movies, it’s all like heaven to me. It seems that Marvel comics can’t go wrong with a string of hits like “Spider-Man”, “X-2”, “Daredevil”, and now “Hulk”. I was never much of a fan of the hulk so I went into this calmly, not excited like all the other movies and began to fear this might become another campy cheesy comic book film. Eric Bana is excellent as Bruce Banner conveying both his shy nerdy personality as the bookworm scientist and the tortured emotionally distant man with a past. He is able to give Bruce his timid swagger all the while making the audience root for him nonetheless. He is able to also perform his scenes where he suppresses his rage well, not going over the top and looking just right and very believable. Bruce is a character who often suppresses his emotions and feels no need to express them, but when old people come back into his life, it’s very difficult and his suppressed memories come back to haunt him.
Josh Lucas is a great villain providing both a slimy but likeable character who wants Banner’s formula for the super-soldier and will basically stop at nothing. He also seeks out the love or Betty Ross, Bruce’s girlfriend, seeking to take her from behind his back. Jennifer Connelly is great in this, simply posing as the damsel in distress and the motive for Bruce to become human again. She’s so gorgeous it made me want to cry and watching her interact with the hulk was unbelievable. She and Bana have great chemistry together and their romance was believable and very interesting. Often times romance tends to slow a movie down, but the screen writers kept it at a tolerable pace and made it very involving. I often wished I was Bana kissing and hugging Connelly; She’s so hot it hurts, yum yum. Sam Elliot is a great villain seeking to kill the hulk at all costs even if it means ruining the relationship with his daughter. He’s a driving force in the movie and I liked him a
lot. Nick Nolte looks like he never left acting with his electric and incredible performance as the villain David Banner. He’s a very psychotic and imposing character who often gets what he wants with murdering and brutal experiments. He’s a great antagonizing character in the movie often driving Bruce to the Hulk. We learn about his character early on in the movie as we see his brutal experiments with animals and soon his son. He’s a character you can love to hate and Nick Nolte does it well without exaggerating or going over the top once. He’s the best thing in this movie. I was often intimidated and disgusted by his character and he handles his role well. Now, last but certainly not least, Ang Lee gives the audience probably the best filmmaking and directing I’ve ever seen in a comic book movie.
The innovative and legendary director brought such classics as “Sense and sensibility” and the powerhouse “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is phenomenal with his camera work. His directing style and visual sequences had me in awe. The movie looks more like a comic book very often going into split screens between two characters and turning them across the screen as another scene opens up before our eyes. The movie is like a moveable comic book, often showing these incredible action scenes that revolve in the screen and introduce another. The scene where Bruce is hit with the gamma radiation is great providing a very surreal and freaky scene. He also manages to accentuate the insanity within David Banner’s character, often showing these elaborate scenes showing his weird piercing eyes. It cuts to another scene but the eyes remain atop, staring back at the audience.
This is probably the most sophisticated of the comic book movies because the hulk isn’t some masked superhero deciding to save the world; he’s an average man who is afflicted with this curse that explores his bodily rage without choice. He’s the tragic Shakespearian underdog hero and Ang Lee treats this not as a movie for kids yet as another piece of his art. When the movie wants to be dramatic, it can be, often giving great character emphases and elaborate storytelling and when the movie wants to be exciting, it sure as hell can be. The Hulk looks incredible often seeming like a monster who roars aloud when is enraged. Ang Lee masterfully gives the hulk the angry mannerisms as the beast pounds his fists and chest and stomps on the ground.
Ang Lee became the model for the hulk, acting out the mannerisms and motions he wanted showing the put particular texture to the movie’s integrity. Ang Lee puts so much effort and thought into this movie and it shows that he respects his audience and never makes this movie into a campy condescending story. The Hulk, though impressive looking tends to look goofy, particularly in the long distance scenes. Up close he’s very realistic and incredible, but during the long distance scenes he looks very bulky and awkward. The artists weren’t able to give the hulk true human motions very well and it can often look very goofy.
The movie tends to run a little too long often dragging in the dramatic scenes with Bruce’s past and dragging out the battle scene in the desert. I would have liked to see a lot less of those scenes and more texture; also Josh Lucas is grossly underused. I would have loved to see him become a driving force against the hulk as the general was but he’s barely in this. The ending is very cool but also tends to take a sidestep from the actual plot at hand, becoming more weird than interesting in the climax where Bruce and his father clash one last time. Despite some reservations with the story, this is the best comic book adaptation I’ve seen so far with an excellent cast and top notch special effects. Ang Lee gives great compliment to this film and I will eagerly await the sequel.