Superhero
Hulk
.
Dir: Ang Lee
Star: Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Nick Nolte, Joshua Lucas
Cert / Year: 12 - R / 2003
Format: DVD R2
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Basically a Gamma radiated spin on the "Jekyll & Hyde" tale, The Hulk tells the story of scientist Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) who after a freak accident in his lab, absorbs an unprecedented amount of Gamma radiation. Ordinarily this would kill any lesser man, but Bruce is the unwitting by-product of his father's experimentation in genetics 30 years earlier. A rather startling side effect of this is that previously dormant genes are activated and they make Banner invulnerable, which is obvious by his completely unscathed body. Banner, believing his father to be dead, is shocked when he appears at the hospital to check on him, which is when Bruce starts to learn some of the truth of his mysterious past. There is another side effect as Banner now has some serious anger management issues. Whenever Bruce Banner becomes angry or scared, his body triggers his new genes and they rapidly take over his body, dramatically transforming him from the mild mannered scientist into the towering and rippling green skinned behemoth.... The Hulk. It is only when a secret military contractor attempts to steal his research that Bruce discovers his new and uncontrollable side. Now at war with himself and the world as he tries to control the beast within, Banner's only ally is his ex-girlfriend and brilliant fellow researcher, Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly). Unfortunately her father General Ross (Sam Elliott) is hunting and trying to kill the Hulk. You just know, someone is going to make him ANGRY!......

Absolutely brilliant! Ang Lee successfully demonstrates how to direct a comic book movie properly, showing Hollywood how it should be done and putting the competition to shame. It is obvious watching this film that Ang Lee understands the original medium perfectly and he frames and edits the film accordingly, very much in the "Marvel comics" style. There are in places, multiple frames and split boxes, frames fading and blending into new visuals which just leap out at you and are wonderfully organised, bringing the artistic quality back into the fray. Just like reading a comic book, in fact and it even recreates some memorable visuals from the comics in places. This is, of course, one of the film's greatest assets, bearing in mind the heritage and source of the story. The direction is very stylish and appears both fresh and original with that certain flair you have come to expect from "Academy Award" winning director Ang Lee. There is also a good balance of action and not as much protracted character oration and deep philosophical ramblings as you would have expected from Lee. I admit, that after Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon I was more than a little apprehensive at the prospect of Taiwanese director Ang Lee directing the big screen version of The Incredible Hulk. That, and the prospect of a cheesy looking fully CGI Hulk, I felt was a bit of an insult really. I was convinced before I started watching this movie that I wouldn't like it. The advertising had not done much to really "sell" the film in a good light and after other comic/movie offerings I was sure that this would be the worst of the lot. But I am pleased to say that my fears were allayed and kudos to the filmmakers, this is a stunning movie. The CGI Hulk is remarkable and it is easy to forget that he is CG a lot of the time as he literally leaps off the comic book page and onto your screen. Dennis Muren and the team at Industrial Light and Magic have done an astounding job with the effects work, and the thousands of layers created to build the digital Hulk work excellently, showcasing just what they can now achieve with CGI and not the horrible CGI mess that you would think or were expecting.

Thankfully, the film doesn't stray from its roots and this is very much a case of a comic book coming to sensational life, which is certain to prove a big hit with the generations of Hulk readers old and new. The Hulk characterisation is also taken from the comic and not the TV series, so this might not be what some viewers are expecting. Gone are the cheesy grimaces of the late Bill Bixby and the painful looking contact lenses and no bodybuilders running around in green paint with unfeasibly large eyebrows either. Drawing on the original material, this incarnation enables the inclusion of numerous intrinsic details and elements to the character and of the comic, whilst also bringing the original story up to date, without abondoning the original concept. I mean, lets face it, "Gamma radiation" just isn't as menacing or mysterious as it was 40 odd years ago, so now with the inclusion of a little genetic tampering, it has a better premise and works better. Added to this is the inclusion of Banner's father which is a new angle but not unwelcome. To see such an old and popular character, bounding across the screen and not to mention the awesome metamorphosis sequences. The "Hulkification" in the film is exponential, meaning that the angrier he gets, the bigger and stronger he gets so that leads to some excellent battles and is a superb approach which of course, couldn't have really been satisfactorily explored in the comics and definitely not in the TV series. The transformations are also superb, the viewer has a certain wide eyed enjoyment as you watch the awesome "Hulkification" sequences. The facial mannerisms, the detail of the CGI everything about the character is superbly finished, right down to the pores of the skin and the capillaries of the eyes. You can see the striations of the muscles when he moves, flexes and runs, the detail is simply amazing.

Too many comic books and characters have been creatively raped and pillaged in order to make "bankable products" for the studios, now hopefully the tide is turning. The Hulk is a distinct break from the norm and a breath of fresh air, perhaps there is hope yet for further comic to film transitions, especially if they are treated to such a sincere and avant-garde approach. Visually stunning and captivating, this is a definite comic book movie for the fans and about time too! Contrary to the beleifs of some, comic books are not just a series of pictures in a book, they are an art form in their own right and have been a source of entertainment and pleasure for generations. Some people forget that a lot of these "heroes" that they have on television and on film were originally comic characters. Compared to its predecessors like the latter Batman movies, DareDevil and The X-Men, this film shines and "Hulk Smash"! (Sorry, couldn't help it) them into submission. This is undeniably a far better film in every way.

Eric Bana is surprisingly good as Bruce Banner, having only seen him in Chopper before this it was hard to shake that image of him. Bana was great as the psychotic Chopper but here he provides an intense and accomplished performance, surprising and remarkably well suited for this role. The talented and svelte Jennifer Connelly is always a pleasure to watch and this is certainly no exception. Her portrayal of Betty Ross is very cool and she works well with the excellent Sam Elliott who plays her on screen father General Ross. Elliott is great at playing gruff old hard men, a brilliant choice for General Ross but you can't help seeing Wade Garrett from RoadHouse in his performance, like you tend to see in all his roles. Josh Lucas earns a deserved hatred for his character, as he is so good at playing such an unpleasant oik of a character that you would cue up to give him a "good hiding". Nick Nolte , wow. What can you say. An inspired choice to play Dr Banner senior, Nolte has some memorable scenes and enjoys plenty of the limelight, always a good choice for a mysterious down and out looking nutcase, even if it is allegedly a "mad scientist" type. There is a cameo by the television Hulk as former "Mr. Olympia" Lou Ferrigno crops up as a security guard, alongside the creator of the The Incredible Hulk and Marvel comics' god Stan "The Man" Lee.

A surprising, breathtaking and thoroughly entertaining film, portraying an intelligent comic story in a reassuringly "Marvel" fashion without appearing cartoony or horrendously CGI'd. This is the most faithful comic book adaptation / representation to date and as such is bound, no, guaranteed to please the fans. I know I for one, am very happy with it, and there aren't many films I can say that about! There is no unfulfilled potential here as this movie ticks all the right boxes with a big decisive tick. It is well-paced with some vivid action scenes, stunning visuals, beautiful and striking direction by Ang Lee and some superb performances. Not forgetting of course, the big green fella too.

This terrific and incredible incarnation of the popular Marvel comics character affords you a shameless giddy excitement, this really is.... The Incredible Hulk .
"Nuff Said"

Quotes

Don't make me angry .... You wouldn't like me when I'm angry

Rating: 5 out of 5

Glitz's say:

Super hero films seem to be ten to a penny nowadays, and Marvel comic's characters seem to be leading the way. So added to Spiderman, Daredevil, and the X-men movies we how have the biggest and greenest of them all the Hulk.

Well this film certainly has the right formula for a super hero movie right from the Danny Elfman themed, CGI DNA type title sequence. We are launched straight into what is quickly becoming familiar territory with the usual scene setting story and fair amount of epic super hero fighting.

The biggest thing going for the movie (no not the Hulk more on him later) is the slick style that Ang Lee brings to the piece. A series of inventive CG split screen effects and scene transitions give the film its unique and highly polished style, one with is rather reminiscent of early Sam Raimi. However where Ang Lee is responsible for one of the films strengths he is also responsible for the films biggest weakness, and that is it's chronic lack of pace.

Ok so being the first film in a possible franchise we have to have the obligatory plot exposition scenes, but here they really do go on for some time. The action is a long time coming with the Hulk himself having to wait for almost half the movie to make and appearance. This dialogue heavy pacing and concentration on beautifully composed shots is another feature of Ang Lee's direction as we saw in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. At the end of the day you can't help but think he was the wrong man for the job as an action movie director he isn't.

The second half of the film is dominated by the big green man himself, and here we have one of the films most contentious issues, and that is the decision to make the Hulk a totally computer generated creation. These CG characters are a relatively new concept and the technology is still evolving, the current state of the art is demonstrated by the latest Lord of the Rings movie with the Smeagol character being as good as it gets. The choice to take the Hulk along these lines is I think the correct one, after all it is about the only way to give him the required mass. However the end result has mixed results. The Hulk character looks very much like a computer graphic and this kind of works in a comic book sort of way, however there are still times when the overall effect is not that convincing. In some scenes it works well, in others it is like watching a computer game. One thing is for sure and that is these effects will date quickly, I think you'll find if you watch this in a years time you wil be less impressed. It is a valiant attempt that almost paid off.

Where does that leave the Hulk? Well don't get me wrong this a good modern comic book super hero movie, and it ranks right up there with last years Spiderman. It should have been a least three quarters of an hour shorter for sure, and the Hulk effects really could have been that little bit better, but overall the film is very entertaining. With a bit of tweaking a sequel could really be a winner (but lets give the Hulk more super hero opposition next time), as it stands X-Men 2 wins hands down in a fight for this years comic book crown.

Rating: 3 out of 5

DVD
DISC 1
Picture 1.85:1 anamorphic Brilliant crisp image
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 & DTS Fantastic
Features Superb animated - comic page menu selection
Audio commentary with director Ang Lee
"Hulk Cam - Inside The Rage" branching option to behind the scenes footage throughout the film
Short but excellent "Thunderbirds" movie teaser trailer
DISC 2
Features Superb animated - comic page menu selection
Cool "Evolution Of The Hulk" featurette
"The Incredible Ang Lee" interesting featurette
"The Dog Fight Scene' featurette
"Hulkification: You’re Making Me Angry" scene drawn by various artists from around the world (in Japanese Anime, Euro Style and Marvel Comics style)
DVD-Rom content
"Making Of" featurette
"Superhero Revealed - The Anatomy Of The Hulk": manipulate and dissect a 3D Hulk model for cool information
"The Unique Style Of Editing The Hulk" featurette
DISC 3
Excellent 45 min behind the scenes documentary hosted by star Sam Elliott
EXTRAS
10 exclusive prints of unique storyboard artwork commissioned from a variety of artists
Memento booklet of the "You're Making Me Angry" scene: exclusive print edition of the work of Adam Kubori, Tommy Ohtsuka, Salvador Larroca and Katsuya Terada, complete with biographies
Reprint of the first ever Hulk comic: Limited edition pocket sized Marvel reprint of The Incredible Hulk issue 1 comic (original cover date May 1962)
Verdict Wow. A fantastic 3 disc set, contained within a very cool "Hulk Fist" presentation box. Loads of worthy and interesting extras, a must for any fan. Very impressive.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Link Back Top Home