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Posted on 7/04/11 02:01 PM
Even before the first teaser hit, anticipation for Hulk was huge. Not only was it based on one of Marvel's most well known properties but it was released at a time when superheroes seemed like a sure thing at the box office. Then, early footage for the film was released, before the effects on the Hulk were finished, causing negativety to errupt from fans of the comics. Despite that, the film still managed a strong opening weekend, but after that the film completely collapsed at the box office, and despite being a success it was nonetheless declared as a big dissapoinmtent, and the film ended up getting rebooted five years later.
Eric Bana stars as Bruce Banner, a brillaint scientist who graduated recently from college with a childhood that he can remember very little about. He and his girlfriend Betty Ross are working on using Gamma Rays to attempt to give animals the regeneratting abilities, something Talbot, a rival of Bruce, thinks could be very useful for the army, and aims to take control of the project. So far though, all the things Gamma Rays have been doing is making animals explode. One day, however, Bruce attempts to save his friend from getting exposed to the Gamma Rays and in the process gets hit full blast by them. Although he should have been killed, he begins experiancing some strange side effects. As if to make matters ever stranger, his father shows up in the middle of the night, dressed as a janitor, despite Bruce believing him to be dead all these years, and soon afterwards Betty's father, General Ross shows up, looking for him. Soon, Bruce begins to uncover the mysteries of his past, while also having to deal with the fact that every time he gets mad he becomes a monstrous creature known as the Hulk.
As I said before, The Hulk is infamours for its disasterous holds, even by comic book adaptation standards, despite earning okay reviews by critics. So why did it show such awful holds? The reason is simple - audiances came in expecting a lot of Hulk Smash, and what they got instead was a psychological drama. So expectations about what a Hulk movie should be about how does this film work?
Well, in my opinion, there are some parts that work really well, others not so much. First off, despite the fact that there isn't much in the way of action, this film wasn't as dull as I had expected it to be. In fact, at times it was pretty compelling. As someone who hadn't read the comics previously, I found the mystery of Bruce Banner's past quite interesting and was eager to find out all the clues about what happened to him when he was a child. Also, the drama between the characters, particularly between Betty and her father, as well as Betty and Bruce was handled nicely. You also have to hand it to Director Ang Lee - scenes like the army carrying Hulk in the desert or David Banner finally explaining what happened between him and his wife in a flashback are not something you typically see in a comic book film and they do help the film stand out.
On the other hand, there are other scenes where it seems like the director was trying too hard to be artistic. Take the scene were Hulk is falling through the air. All of a sudden, we switch to a scene with Bruce shaving himself in a mirror and seeing Hulk as his reflection, I mean what was the point of that scene? Also, sometimes you feel the source material seems to clash with the director's vision of the film. After all, how serious can a film be when it involves a fight between Hulk and three really fake mutated CGI poodles?
Speaking of CGI, I must say that while the poodles seemed pretty poorly made, I found the Hulk to be passable. Yes, like most CGI characters, he's showing his age, and some of his moves are a little awkward (though apparently that was the directors intention) but it's nothing too bad.
As for the action, well I have to say that when it comes it comes. The desert chase scene is impressive, and will probably be the highlight of the entire film for Hulk fans. On the other hand, the fight with The Absorbing Man that happens after that sort of ruins it, but that mainly has to to with how weird the film gets in the last ten minutes or so.
Moving on to the preformances, Eric Bana does fine as Bruce Banner, able to show his usual nerdy side and his angry side that happens just before he turns into Hulk. Meanwhile Sam Elliot does a good job at General Ross, who is conflicted between his hatred for Bruce and his dad and his love for Betty who doesn't want Bruce to be harmed. Speaking of Betty, for once my favourite preformance in a superhero movie comes from the love interest, but that may be because I have a soft spot for Jennifer Connelly. Finally, Nick Nolte is okay as David Banner, at least when he's not overacting (like the scene at the end)
While fans may have been clamoring for a big action film, director Ang Lee instead attempted to make a Beauty and the Beast/King Kong style film, and while the effort isn't without quite a few flaws, from the weak ending to the poodle fight, the film isn't as bad as its preformance will lead you to believe. It's not the kind of film I'd want to see again and again, but I still enjoyed it well enough. Besides, I doubt we'll be seeing another superhero film quite like this one.