Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Nick Nolte
I'll be honest - I was none too impressed when I saw the
commercials for what I though was another comic-to-film adaptation.
But, once I got into the theater, things managed to do an
about-face. Director Ang Lee (Crouching
Tiger, Hidden Dragon) manages to create a film that is
both comicbook-like in presentation, yet shows a real-life
awareness that so few hero flicks try to retain.
Much like the comicbook, the story revolves around a scientist,
Bruce Banner, who becomes irradiated with gamma radiation,
which triggers a change in him whenever he loses his temper,
turning the mild-mannered Banner into a huge green beast.
As the movie details early on, Bruce's father, David, was
an experimental geneticist who tests his own project on himself
just before Bruce is conceived. A few years later, his father,
after being fired from the military base he was working at,
snaps, leaving Bruce traumatized and with repressed memories.
Many years later, Bruce unwittingly follows in his father's
footsteps. When a glitch in the project puts a fellow scientist
in danger, Bruce takes the brunt of a blast of gamma radiation,
which triggers an innate mutation in his body.
From that point, once Bruce is put under moments of severe
anger, he transforms into the green monster, who proceeds
to destroy his lab and eventually gets Bruce captured for
study. All the while, Bruce's father turns up, trying to take
advantage of his son's new mutation.
Probably the biggest aspect of the movie is the CG-rendered
Hulk, which actually ends up looking pretty good. While there
are a few moments where he looks plastic, most of the time,
the Hulk looks well animated and believable. There are even
moments when the Hulk shows emotions other than violent rage,
creating a sense of sympathy for the beast.
Eric Bana is pretty dead-on as Bruce Banner. In fact, he
gives the conflicted character a lot more depth than most
would expect. Jennifer Connelly is equally as good as Betty
Ross, Bruce's love interest who tries to help him deal with
his problem. Both Sam Elliott and Nick Nolte are adequate
in their parts, although neither feel like they're out of
their standard characters in either role.
Probably the other "star" of the film is the way Ang Lee
chose to present the story. Rather than take a standard approach,
he breaks up many scenes into multiple frames, not unlike
a live action comicbook, where multiple perspectives are shown
at one time. Fortunately, this concept isn't overdone to the
point of ruining it.
I would have to say that some parts of the film did feel
a little slow in development. Also, if you're a stickler for
films staying true to the original material, then you may
not be too happy with the alternative telling of the Hulk's
story. While it does work well within the film, it does take
a lot of liberties.
If you were even remotely interested, go check out The
Hulk. It's a lot better than the commercials make it look
and there is some depth hidden behind the flash of the CG
animation. Not everything is perfect, but it's still an enjoyable