Hulk (2003)

Hulk (2003)
  • Time: 138 min
  • Genre: Action | Sci-Fi
  • Director: Ang Lee
  • Cast: Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliott


Bruce Banner, a brilliant scientist with a cloudy past about his family, is involved in an accident in his laboratory causing him to become exposed to gamma radiation and Nanomeds (A tiny life-form that is supposed to heal wounds but has killed everything with which they have made contact). Confused and curious about his survival, Banner discovers that since the accident, whenever he becomes angry he transforms into a giant green monster destroying everything in sight in an act of fury. Bruce’s mysterious past and the answer to why the radiation had this effect becomes revealed to him as his Birth Father David Banner intervenes with hopes to continue experimenting on him.

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  • Back in 2003, before Marvel created their ‘Cinematic Universe’ and started to explore their more obscure, lesser-known characters, superhero movies were starting to hit their stride. Origin stories such as Bryan Singer’s X-Men (2000) and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (2002), while certainly far from perfect, demonstrated just how fun these movies could be without sacrificing plot or character development for the sake of a set-piece. Ang Lee’s Hulk took this idea a tad too far, delving into the psyche of its not-particularly-interesting protagonist and forgetting that this is a movie about a giant green rage-monster who smashes things to pieces.

    Dr. Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) works with his former girlfriend Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly) at the Berkeley Biology Institute, experimenting on cell repair using gamma radiation. Due to a mysterious, traumatic event when he was a child, Banner is haunted by the vague memories he has of his parents, now believed to be dead. Naturally, one of his experiments goes awry and he is exposed to a dangerous level of radiation, which allows him to turn into a big green monster whenever he gets angry. His father David (Nick Nolte) turns up alive to complete the experimentation he was prevented from completing by Betty’s father Thaddeus (Sam Elliott), who imprisoned him for 30 years. Learning of David’s return and Bruce’s new power, Thaddeus will not stop at nothing to take them both down.

    I remember quite liking Hulk when I first saw it back in the cinema, but watching it again 13 years later, I found it a convoluted, and quite frankly boring, mess. There are a couple of things to admire, such as Lee’s attempt to translate the comic to screen with the use of multiple split-screen, but this device is employed too often, and in situations that don’t really call for it. Nolte is also enjoyable to watch, as he is let loose to the point where it seems like he has wandered onto the set after a particularly heavy binge. However, the film spends far too much time with a mopey Bruce as he struggles with the memories of the past. When the action finally comes, the special effects just aren’t up to scratch, even by 2003’s standards, and the climax is a confusing muddle of giant clouds obscured even further by the fact that the picture is too dark to make out what is happening. Hopefully, if Marvel ever make a standalone movie with Mark Ruffalo, they will finally get the character right (fingers crossed for Planet Hulk!).

    Rating: 2/5

    Read more reviews at The Wrath of Blog

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