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Hulk (Widescreen 2-Disc Special Edition) (2003)

A film directed by Ang Lee

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A Big Green, bloated and dull mess!

  • Jun 17, 2003
Pros: Not Much

Cons: Bad acting, boring script, dull action.

The Bottom Line: A bloated excess of a film that is not only a waste of the fine talent, but a dull waste of time.

Raging inside Dr Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) is a monster waiting to be unleashed. Anyone familiar with the comic book or the TV series that starred the late Bill Bixby will be familiar with the setup of “Hulk” the new film version of the classic tale by acclaimed director Ang Lee of “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” fame.

For those of you unfamiliar with the tale, when Dr. Banner is exposed to an overdose of Gamma radiation, his body chemistry is altered in such a way that he transforms into a large, green, and destructive creature when he is angered. Naturally, this puts him at odds with the authrorities and the military and Banner is forced to live a vagabond existence while he searches for a way to contain his inner rage.

In the new version, much of the established background of the characters are removed in favor of a new background that basis the origins of the creature on work begun by Banners father before he was born. It seems that the senior Banner was working for a government lab when he decided to experiment on himself with his new regeneration serums which in turn, caused him to pass on his altered genes to his son Bruce.

Flash forward to the present where Bruce is now going by the name Krensler as he is under the impression that his family is dead. He works closely with old-flame Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly), who still cares for him despite Bruce being very distant emotionally.

While prepping for an important presentation, Bruce is exposed to an overdose of Gamma radiation that sets the stage for the emergence of the creature as it activates the alterations that were present in his system based on his father’s tamperings.

It is at this point that the film takes several bad turns that drag the film down. When the creature finally emerges 45 minutes into the 2 hr and 20 minute film, it is underwhelming. While the creature looks interesting, I had the impression that I was watching a computer game, as at no time, did the creature seem to fit into the background and was very clearly superimposed. While the facial and skin textures and reactions of the creature were good, the action sequences were far too few and in between and very underwhelming.

Once the creature emerges, it does not take long for Betty’s father General Ross (Sam Elliott), to actively begin plans to destroy or contain the creature as his genes contain the key to vast fortunes for a government contractor and his presence reminds Ross of the threat Banner’s father represented thirty years earlier which Bruce has repressed all of these years.

I am going to avoid going into too many details of what happens to whom and when but suffice it to say soon the creature is on the loose with the military in hot pursuit fearing the rage of the creature unleashed in a populated area. What I will say however, is that while I was a fan of the series and comic, I was very unhappy with the film version, especially with the huge array of talent that was brought into the film. Connelly and Bana look like they are sleepwalking through the film as the dialogue is so bad and bland that it makes the Star Wars Prequel banter look Shakespearian in comparison. The actors rarely show any emotion at all, and seem to be uninspired by the material. Only Nick Nolte playing the senior Banner puts any emotion into his role, but he is reduced to chewing scenery and spouting lines that elicited groans from many of my colleagues in the press section.

The action of the film was very unspectacular as the trailers have shown the majority of the major FX and the few battle scenes unfold in a very ho-hum manner with no pacing, tension, or excitement. I found myself caring little for the characters as they were so emotionless and uninspiring that their fates were of no major consequence other then returning for possible sequels.

I really wanted to like this film, but I found myself unable to find anything about it to recommend or like. The long gaps when the creature were not on the screen dragged by, and when the creature did appear, it was little payoff. Worse yet, I found myself wanting to leave the film before it was over and I stayed mainly out of professionalism and that is saying a lot as I have willingly sat through many a stinker in my film career.

With so much talent in the film, and the fantastic FX people at ILM, it is sad to see that something so promising went so wrong. I had hoped that with Lee helming the film, there would be many emotional segments of the struggle to contain the inner beast we all have, or an emotional tug of war blended with gripping action. Sadly there was neither, and as a result, “Hulk” is little more than a bloated production that is soulless and empty.

2 stars out of 5

Gareth Von Kallenbach

International Association of Film Critics.



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More Hulk (2003) reviews
review by . August 16, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      HULK      People hate this film and honestly I don't know why, seriously I have no clue what the problem is. I will agree that this movie is not a classic but I really feel like every time I see it I have watched a truly entertaining film. I think this film is a lot like the comics or at least a lot like some versions of the comics, and it is really a great story. I think that this film has a lot of heart which is unusual for this type of film, most …
review by . August 04, 2010
You know, screwing up the Hulk is like messing up instant pudding.  With pudding, pour mix into a bowl, add milk, stir, let cool and then eat.  Hulk is a guy who when he gets mad, grows into a 10 foot green monster of a man who's super strong, can leap into low orbit and has boundless rage once he gets going.  It's a big green monster who smashes up anything in his path.  How do you mess that up?  Well heres one way to do it.      I would love …
Quick Tip by . August 05, 2010
Sleep inducing and arty piece of a comic hero that should be anything but. When the action starts, it's good but otherwise, pull up the blankie and pillow
review by . April 29, 2009
What could have been a great movie, slogs through the first hour at an excruciatingly slow pace.  Very weird directing where the screen splits into four different scenes, does more harm than good.  Bruce Banner, a child of parents that lived in a military base that tested nuclear devices like Los Alamos, grows up to be a scientist too.  When he is exposed to a dose of gamma radiation, the genetically mutated cells in his body go crazy and he is transformed into the Hulk using Shrek-like …
review by . June 13, 2008
4.5/5 stars     "Hulk" 2003 is very different from what you would expect from a typical summer popcorn creature-feature. From the advertising campaign it appeared to be a mindless special effects extravaganza with little to no plot whatsoever; AKA Summer Fun. For those who went to see it with that mindset it was undoubtedly a not so pleasant surprise. Most of whom who saw this on its initial theatrical release obviously had not foreseen Ang Lee's philosophical drama, and they …
review by . June 20, 2006
True the movie starts slow, with admirable character development. By the time the Hulk appears, every one's motivations are known with each personality sharply distinguished. I have to admit that I was taking aback on how he look on screen. Alot of people describe him as "Shrek on Steroids" or "Angry Shrek," which I don't blame them because that's not the way we know the Hulk.     Ang Lee loves showing humanity and human frailty in his stories as he has done exceptionally in …
review by . May 12, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Special effects…     Cons: Special effects, acting     The Bottom Line: The Hulk suffered from an over use of computer aided graphics, and it destroyed the movie for me. I like my hero’s powerful, but somewhat human thank you.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot. As a young boy growing up in middle, well okay lower middle America, I dined on a regular menu of Marvel Comics. My favorites were …
review by . February 05, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
What could have been a great movie, slogs through the first hour at an excruciatingly slow pace. Very weird directing where the screen splits into four different scenes, does more harm than good. Bruce Banner, a child of parents that lived in a military base that tested nuclear devices like Los Alamos, grows up to be a scientist too. When he is exposed to a dose of gamma radiation, the genetically mutated cells in his body go crazy and he is transformed into the Hulk using Shrek-like animation techniques.The …
review by . December 17, 2003
Ang Lee is a great director...let there be no doubt. CROUCHING TIGER, ICE STORM, SENSE & SENSIBILITY. All TRULY outstanding films. So it comes as no surprise that he would try to bring greatness to a genre little familiar with greatness...the movie comic / superhero genre.On many levels, Ang Lee did a great thing. He attempted to REALLY delve into the emotional angst of his characters...to show use in a "believable" manner how Hulk could have come into being. The opening credits for the movie are …
review by . November 11, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
"Hulk" was a disappointment. I hate to say it, but it's true. This movie had so much potential, but it fell flat from the word go. The story dragged on for what seemed like a lifetime, and Ang Lee's comic-style editing became annoying after the first few minutes. The highpoint of the movie is, of course, the Hulk. If you are blessed with a DVD player, simply skip over the parts that don't include a CGI graphic, and you'll have a good time. Eric Bana didn't win me over as Bruce Banner, and as much …
About the reviewer
Gareth Von Kallenbach ()
Ranked #111
I am a syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. My work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site "Skewed … more
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About this movie


When the Hulk gets angry, his movie gets good, so you wish he'd get angry more often. Accepting this challenge after the triumphantCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, director Ang Lee has created an ambitious film, based on the Marvel comic created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, that succeeds as a cautionary tale about mad science and traumatized children coping with legacies of pain. That's the Hulk's problem: After accidental exposure to gamma radiation, scientist Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) turns into the huge, green, and indestructible Hulk when provoked, and repressed childhood memories fuel his fury. Hobbled by the obligatory "origin story" (to acquaint neophytes with the character's Jekyll-and-Hyde-ish fate), there's room for little else in a sluggish film that struggles to reconcile Lee's stylistic flair (evident in his visual interpretation of comic-book technique) with the razzle-dazzle of a megabudget franchise. What's good is good (Jennifer Connelly essentially echoes her role fromA Beautiful Mind, and Nick Nolte is righteously tormented as Banner's father), but the movie's schizoid intentions remain largely unclear.--Jeff Shannon
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Director: Ang Lee
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: 2003
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: January 11, 2007
Runtime: 138 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios
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