HULK (2003) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

I will never understand why Universal Pictures or Marvel Studios chose Ang Lee to direct this big screen adaption of Television’s long running series. Eric Bana is miscast and lost in a sea of meaningless dialogue along with everybody around him. Usually dependable actors such as Jennifer Connelly and Josh Lucas are asked to emote but for reasons that aren’t clear to the audience. It comes off as moping and the entire film takes on a heavy tone in the opening passages that it never is able to shake.

Bruce Banner is a Berkley Scientist studying molecular development that produces a frightening side effect. Turns out the Military has taken an interest in developing this as a possible weapon. When the government seizes control of the lab Banner loses his temper and morphs into the giant green monster known as the ‘Hulk’. A ridiculous looking CGI creation, that at times resembles King Kong and other times Arnold Schwarzenegger. Therein lies the problem; the central figure is constantly shifting in size and dimension so it’s impossible to ever get a sense of this animated figure occupying real space.

A overt running theme is the struggle between fathers and their children. A fine theme but not appropriate for a summertime ‘popcorn’ movie about a raging green superhero. Nick Nolte plays the elder Banner a crazed scientist who may or may not have killed Bruce’s mom when he was a child. That repressed memory is often a trigger that propels the ‘hulk’ into existence. Nolte is allowed to walk through the film mumbling his dialogue and looking like a homeless man. Although his ‘big’ monologue is amusing and full of the sense of fun that is so desperately missing from this overlong (138min.) tale. An extended action sequence in the third act is the highlight of the film. Watching the ‘Hulk’ I was reminded that maybe this particular comic book character just doesn’t translate well to the the film medium. A ‘reboot’ followed in 2008 with better results.

Director: Ang Lee
Stars: Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly and Sam Elliott

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