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Starring: Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly
Director: Ang Lee
Genre: Action
Year: 2003
Rating: 2 / 5

Before making its way into theatres during the summer of 2003, Hulk was already facing stiff critical and public backlash. With huge box office successes like Spider-Man and X2: X-Men United upping the ante for comic book films, the pressure was mounting on director Ang Lee to deliver a blockbuster. Adding to the noted director’s worries was the fact that fans could not stop discussing – with mostly negative reactions – the Hulk’s new “look” in the film’s trailers. For all the furor about the film, however, the special effects that produce the Hulk should have been the least of Lee’s worries. The Hulk is a truly remarkable CGI creation, both as an action hero and a dramatic lead, but the rest of the film eventually lets him down.

Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) is an up-and-coming scientist hard at work on cutting edge genetic research, laboring day after day next to his colleague and ex-girlfriend Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly). Together, these two continue to resist the pressures of government entities and shady operators, all trying to use their research for nefarious purposes. During a freak accident at the lab one day, a torrent of gamma rays is released, threatening the life of a co-worker. Bruce risks his own life by throwing his body in the path of these rays, absorbing their deadly emissions. Surprisingly, the rays do not kill him, although he soon finds that he is no longer a mild-mannered scientist.

Through flashbacks, we learn that David Banner (Nick Nolte), Bruce’s brilliant but troubled father, once genetically experimented on himself. Only looking for self-betterment, David unwittingly passed along his enhanced genes to his son Bruce. Thirty years later, these enhancements are all that has kept Bruce alive, although the gamma rays have triggered some peculiar mutation. Soon Bruce, as a scientist or as the green embodiment of his own anger, finds himself on the run from government officials, who see in him the ultimate military weapon. Constantly evading capture, Bruce / Hulk finds that the only person who really understands him, the only person who can actually help him, is Betty Ross.

Director Ang Lee’s ambition may have gotten the better of him, as his stated goal of telling a dramatic story, complete with a most unusual romance, causes the film to veer off course. The bigger problems, though, are the film’s general plot and some wooden acting by star Eric Bana. Hulk plods along for the first forty minutes, offering us little beyond the stiff Bana and some unexciting science lessons. From there, the movie deteriorates into a retread tale about an evil military out to harness a weapon of unknown potential. The only shining lights are the Hulk himself, looking quite sharp for a CGI actor, and Nick Nolte, whose over-the-top madman would fit right in with how this film should have been made. Even while we celebrate the success of some of the films in the Marvel universe, we must remind ourselves that, as demonstrated by Hulk, comic book adaptations involve more misses than hits.


Eric Bana..........Bruce Banner
Jennifer Connelly..........Betty Ross
Nick Nolte..........David Banner

Certification: Rated PG-13 for violence.
Running Time: 138 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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