The Hulk
Starring:
Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Nick Nolte
Directed By:
Ang Lee
Grade
A-

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 experience.

- - Vane

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