The Hulk Movie Review
In the words of the immortal Public Enemy, don't believe the hype. Nothing you've seen does Lee's finished product justice. For the most part, the Hulk looks fantastic. He has texture, and he certainly has mass. There's the occasional slippage to video game-quality graphics, but the aftermath of Hulk's actions, the devastation left in his wake, convince us of his existence. Until you've seen the Hulk smash a tank and wrestle a helicopter in mid-air, you ain't seen nothing.
Lee catches newcomers up at a fevered clip. In 1966, pioneer scientist David Banner enjoys breakthroughs in the field of immune system modification. He needs a human guinea pig, but his supervisors forbid it, forcing Banner to run tests on himself. When Banner and his wife conceive a child, the father suspects he's passed his mutated genes onto his offspring, Bruce.
Years later, scientist Bruce (Eric Bana) unknowingly follows in his father's footsteps. Working alongside former flame Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly), the mild-mannered brain analyzes cell regeneration data until the day he's exposed to extreme doses of gamma radiation. As a result, Bruce's emotional damage and suppressed childhood memories manifest themselves physically in the form of a massive green monster when he's angered.
At a time when expectations for comic book movies were low, X-Men director Bryan Singer earned respect for not ruining Marvel Comics' unique vision. Now, Lee's obligated to go one giant leap further, and he successfully elevates the comic book adaptation to an art form without forgetting his source. Amazing frame wipes effectively set the film's mood, as new scenes enter and exit in circles and squares lifted from the pages of comic books.
Not content with the basic "Hulk smash" approach, Lee and his team of screenwriters introduce moral quandaries we're meant to chew on between rampages. Digs at the military's inclination towards dominance through advanced weaponry will sting the most patriotic of viewers. Nerds will revel in the passionate debates involving a scientist's instinctive desire to control nature.
Ever the perfectionist, Lee leaves no stone (or enormous boulder) left unturned. He receives quality acting across the board, particularly from an overachieving Nick Nolte as Bruce's deranged dad. The grizzled thespian plays Banner as more a "mad scientist" than a concerned paternal figure. He's a living, breathing homage to B-movie evil geniuses, the ones who cackle at the sky when they hatch devious plans to take over the world. Still, the loudest response comes from a Lou Ferrigno walk-on cameo. He'll always be our Hulk.
Sad to say, Lee's Hulk can't sustain its emotional momentum. The film succumbs to its bloated 2-plus-hour run time even as it introduces one of the comic's most recognizable foes while laying the groundwork for a sequel. The fact that another installment is appreciated - even anticipated - speaks to how far Lee has come, though, in bringing this emerald green legend to life.
Hey, that's my car!
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