Written by David Hayter, James Schamus, Michael France, John Turman, Michael Tolkin
Directed by Ang Lee

Running Time: 2:18
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence,
some disturbing images
and brief partial nudity.


Eric Bana
as Bruce Banner

Jennifer Connelly
as Betty Ross

Sam Elliott
as Ross

Josh Lucas
as Talbot

Nick Nolte
as David Banner

Paul Kersey
as Young David Banner

Cara Buono
as Edith Banner

Todd Tesen
as Young Ross


The Hulk was much darker and more serious than other comic book related films but still very entertaining.


At the age of 4, Bruce Banner sees something happen to his family that he represses for years. His father had been conducting experiments with jellyfish and other marine life in order to try and create something that would give soldiers the ability to regenerate when injured. The military doesn't want him to test on humans, but he tests on himself and passes the genetic restructuring onto his newborn son. His son grows up in a foster home and ends up going into the same field as his father. When he's hit with a serious dose of gamma rays, the genetic changes in his body grow out of control and when he goes into a rage, Bruce Banner turns into a Hulk. The military and a private scientific company wants to study him and see if they can control him; his father, back from the dead, wants to study him to take control of him; and the woman he loves just wants to protect him.


The Hulk is less a superhero and more a misunderstood creature. Unlike other superheroes, The Hulk can't truly control his transformation and while he says he enjoys the freedom that comes with the rage, he isn't sure he wants his amazing abilities. Keeping in step with that notion, the movie is kept dark and serious with not a lot of comedy or laughs thrown in. It's basically a dramatic movie that happens to feature a large green creature that is almost impervious to pain and has the strength of a million men.

The biggest question coming into this film was whether the all-CGI Hulk would look more like Gumby than a real character. I came to the conclusion that his body and mannerisms were remarkably realistic and the only thing that made him look cartoonish at all was his face. And even then they did a pretty good job in showing emotions, it's just that computer animation still hasn't gotten to the point where they can make a face look completely human. Or realistic in this case since the Hulk isn't completely human himself. Which, if you think about it, makes his awkward looking face OK because he isn't a real person but a monster so he can look pretty much like anything he wants. But people worried that the character in general would look funny, rest assured, the final product is pretty impressive.

At times the movie feels very slow, and I think the long running time could have been cut down by 15-20 minutes to make the pace feel smoother. And in keeping with the dark story, there weren't many laughs to cut through the tension so everything felt very heavy. They tease you with the Hulk character so even he doesn't show up for a while, but when he does, the screen explodes. The actors surrounding the Hulk did a great job of acting with essentially nothing in front of them and the special effects team did a good job of making things pop and explode and then adding the Hulk to the mix in post-production. I'm not sure I'm sold on Eric Bana playing Bruce Banner though. He is supposed to be a big science geek without any emotions and yet he didn't look like a big geek. Although at times for some reason he reminded me of Corey Feldman, don't ask me why. Jennifer Connelly was lovely as ever as Betty, the only person who can control the Hulk. Nick Nolte as David Banner was at his manic best and got better and better as the movie progressed. Sam Elliott as General Ross, Betty's father and the prime hunter of the Hulk also got better as the movie moved along, although I never understood why he hated David Banner so much.

There were story elements that I couldn't figure out, so if you haven't seen the movie, skip ahead to the bottom line. First off, I'll ask the same questions people have been asking about the Hulk for ages, and that's how is it all his clothes rip off, but his pants stay on, and then when he goes back to Bruce, how is it they still fit? Beyond that, the biggest question is what in the world was going on with David towards the end of the film? I understand he hit himself with gamma rays to give himself more power, and he was able to meld with anything, but the whole big energy ball ending left me scratching my head. I didn't understand that at all and with the movie as good as it was, that ending sort of left me deflated. I think they could have come up with an ending that made a little more sense. Also, that whole Ross hating Banner thing I don't remember being fully explained. I can understand the military telling Banner to stop doing his testing and being upset when he didn't, but Ross seemed to have something more personal against Banner and that I couldn't figure out.


So overall, The Hulk was an enjoyable movie, but not along the lines of films like Spider-Man or the X-Men films. Its dark and serious story line was more reminiscent of a movie like Blade where you had more of an anti-hero, or even the original Batman film (and not the last two sequels). The ending of the movie left me wondering, but the effects were top-notch and the story, while dark, was actually pretty good for a 'comic book' film. In fact, I think calling The Hulk a comic book film would be doing it a disservice since it's much more than just a cartoon character but an intricate story of a man put into a position he never asked for and trying to deal with the freedom and danger that come with his power.

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reviewed 06/21/03

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