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3.9 out of 5 stars180
3.9 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 6 February 2009
Here's a funny thing. A film about a man who turns green and smashes stuff when he gets angry turns out not to really be about that after all.

When I first saw this film at the cinema I was left in a neither-here-nor-there frame of mind. I saw it was good but didn't fully appreciate what I'd just seen. It wasn't really a film about the Hulk but a film about relationships which happened to have the Hulk in it.
Now after the umpteenth reshowing on ITV2 I am finally seeing some of what I think Ang Lee was trying to show us in the first place.

It's a beautiful film about complex emotional issues transposed into a comic book world. Isolation, abandonment, love, familial duty, jealousy, emotional trauma and of course finally anger mixed with frustration at emotional impotence. In many ways it even serves as a metaphor for repressed sexuality. Have no doubt this is a tragedy of immense proportions.
Hulk is a distinctly brave and visionary film which has largely been dismissed as just another comic book film by some yet it doesn't pander to a casual audience either. This is possibly why it was perceived as a failure by so many.

Particularly noteworthy is Jennifer Connelly's performance. Unhurried close-ups of her face, subtly reflecting her changing emotional involvement become almost overwhelming the longer the camera intrusively lingers. I'm tempted to say that this is possibly her best performance in a movie so far even though she's been great in so many others. It's easy to portray such (comic book) supporting characters as caricatures or stereotypes (just look at the dismal 2008 Hulk movie for evidence of that) but Lee and Connelly bring such depth to Betty Ross that she somewhat steals the whole film.
Eric Bana is well cast as the emotionally distant and vaguely unsympathetic Bruce Banner not forgetting the excellent supporting cast including Nick Nolte and Sam Elliott.
Action scenes are handled deftly but similar in tone to the work of legendary director Michelangelo Antonioni, the action is the merely the device by which the larger picture is revealed, and not the other way around.

The difficulty obviously arises when you try to sell a film like this to an audience. Short sighted reliance on populist demographics is always going to fail with a work of this complexity.
So there you have it. A film that is neither fish nor fowl but adroitly occupies the no-man's land in between.

I feel certain that this film will eventually garner the level of praise and appreciation it truly deserves but probably only by future generations. Ang Lee constantly reaffirms just why he has earnt his place among the all-time directorial greats by constantly challenging audience preconceptions and never failing to create thoughtful and intelligent films whatever genre he works in.

"Hulk" a future classic?.......... I have absolutely no doubt.
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on 3 March 2012
As I said - A Beautiful Poetic Treatise On The Suppression Of Rage & The Desire For Peace

The editing is fantastic mimicing the implied movement of comic book frames. It a very layred film & only the most lazy of minds who wanted "HULK SMASH" & nothing else complain because it makes points far to subtle for them to take on board. For me it's what I crave - an intelligent comic book movie. A couple of things are a little abstract & I didnt get them the first time out & were mainly to do with Nick Nolte's transformation but Nick Nolte as Banners Dad is fantastic & the scene where he becomes pure energy after a taste of electricity it amazing & beautiful - especially for a Hollywood movie. Seeing the hulk racing through thunderous black clouds in almost still frames frozen by strobing lightening is mindblowing & layered as he is dragged by the power of his fathers uncontrolable rage & lust for imortality like a child barely able to keep up with an ingenious parent ending with him drowning under the weight of his fathers ambition & "LITERALLY" being smothered as a failed experiment that was put in motion before birth. The opening sequence is the most inovative set of images in any marvel film or any other film. It condenses all the experimental steps that lead to the birth of the hulk & what his father finally becomes in a frenetic & thrilling sequence of moveing microbial images. The sequence is manic & vivid & intoxicated by discovery & the search for perfection at the cost of a home life, it's just so dramatic & efficient. The Hulk "FLIES" almost & I personally think that is beautiful, it is his escape from pressure. During these desert sequences we see his affinity with nature & a desire to just be at peace & to enjoy the world away from bombs & weapons & rage only for that peace to continually be shattered by Bettys military Dad & his desire to own the hulk as a weapon, banner is just raw material to him. The "dogs" fight is NASTY & brutal & quirky & VIOLENT. I just cannot fault this film & never will at least not in any significant way. Its criminally underrated & the follow up by Letterier is simply empty in comparison but enjoyable none the less. I agree with the other reviewer here - this film will be rediscovered & get it's due some day, This is "The Dark Knight" of the Marvel cannon....
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on 27 November 2003
I always had great hope in my heart at the prospect of a Film version of Marvels classic The Hulk. The story was so relevant to society, so moving and so exciting, perfect for the cinema. Yet i also worried that whoever made the film would ruin the look of the hulk or by making it all action, so when i heard Ang Lee had got the rights to make the film, my excitment increased. My expectations were not fully met. As a person who has no clue what makes "great" CGI and "poor" CGI, i personally thought the Hulk looks great. How else other than CGI could you make this monster come to life? A man in a suit and make up, i think not. Yet its not the Hulk itself that makes this film somewhat a dissapointment, but the over complicated story of the Hulks creation.
The original version has Bruce Banner saving a young man during a gamma bomb test, in which Banner himself gets poisened, making him turn into the hulk whenever he gets emotional. The film, rightly so, has a good story behind it of how Bruce has "issues", what these issues are and how they effect his transformations. But we also get, in great deatail, a story of biological research of his Banners father, how he was used in experiments and many other complex biological issues, and then all of a sudden........there is a mistake with a Gamma test and Banner has to save his assistent thus getting infected himself. What was the point of all the biological talk when in the end they just stuck with the original events?
Apart from this the film is great, if not too long, and mixes comic capers, good acting and serious issues well. The film itself only deserves 3 stars, but this excellent version gains an extra star as it has a great bonus DVD, comic replicas, extensive liner notes and of course comes in the great "hulk fist" packeging! Essential for marvel, film and Hulk fans alike
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on 15 October 2003
A lot of people have slammed this movie. Never having been a great fan of the Hulk in any respect,I was not very excited about the idea when my seven year old son 'made' me take him to see this. To be honest,I quite enjoyed it. The special effects were (in this day and age) adequate,and the storyline,although not as upbeat as X-Men or Spiderman,was fairly straightforward, albeit a bit drawn out. The first hour of the movie is far too long,where it doesn't have to be. The persona of David Banner,(the Hulks dad) is unnecessary and shouldn't have been there. Along with mutant poodles and hanging around on jet fighters and (almost) flying into space,these bolted-on kiddy exciters have no place here. Marvel movies,really have one of two places,they cater to the adult audience (Blade,Daredevil - No don't laugh!) or Spiderman (which was fantastic!) for the kids. It seems that trying to cater to both tends to leave something missing from both. When The Hulk! finally gets in an appearance and starts leaping around the desert on well-muscled legs,the action is rivetting,and obviously you want more of this wonderful CGI US Army - bashing fun. This is great stuff. There just isn't enough of it,though. It soon degrades into unrealistic flights into the ionosphere and underground antics below the 'Streets of San Francisco'. The main thing that lifts this film out of the mire,though is the acting. Relatively unknown actor Eric Bana (not Banner!) is superb in his portrayal of the tragic Bruce Banner and Jennifer Connelly as Betty Ross also delivers the goods,showing that a poor script CAN be overcome by good actors. The ending of the movie is a total disaster and completely spoilt it for me. When The Hulk fights his nemesis (no clues!), it is done at night for some strange reason,and I for one,(even on the big screen!) could hardly make out anything that was going on. I am used to working nightshift and have very good vision,but I am going to buy the novel when it comes out,just to find out what happened!. See the movie,the entertaining bits are very entertaining.If you have the DVD or video,just fast-forward the rest.Needless to say,my son enjoyed the movie,too,although I found myself at a loss when he asked,"What happened at the end,Dad?"
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on 9 August 2012
the HD clarity is outstanding and sound quality is brilliant

The people that slate this movie must not have much patience to me this is in the same vein as Nolans batman movies its more about man behind the mask rather than the hero, yes they could of cut a hour out and had little character development and hulk just mindlessly smashing stuff, but instead they went with showing you who banner is.

Also i just adore how ang lee had edited it all together :) highly enjoyable
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on 24 January 2015
Well cast and acted, some really inspired scenes at the start evoking the dawn of the atomic age with molecular biology. What a romp: of course it's all military and top secret! The bad dad/troubled son premise works well and Nolte turns in a stylish performance. In addition despite some disjointedness in the story line - I think Ang was quite ambitious here in presenting all the strands of the plot early on - it does clear the way for the typical angry Hulk scenes of mayhem and destruction later on.

Lou Ferrigno's cameo was a welcome touch for fans of the iconic TV series.

I enjoyed it immensely and the power house finale is beyond fantasy totally thrilling.

With a stand out performance from Bana and a very good soundtrack and special effects, this is first class entertainment and a fitting tribute to one of the more sympathetic Marvel comic book hero creations.
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on 28 March 2005
Being an apparent critical and box office disapointment on cineamtic release, despite the (mis-aimed) publicity efforts of Universal, Hulk is and will remain as one of the great 'Comic Book' adaptations.
This film is all about pedigree in my book. Ang Lee, James Schamus, Bana, Nolte..... et al!
If you take a while to sit through the extra features on the discs, Lee lovingly describes his own approach to an unusual subject matter. His personal fascinations with the subtlety of life, his miniature 'Zen' gardens and his willingness to actually play the motion capture model for the Hulk all evoke passion and caring about his filmaking.
The actually metaphor behind the Hulk story (like all great marvel comics) is another ingredient that adds to the personal nature of this project, not only for the film makers but for the audiences' journey.
The Hulk lies in all of us (obviously story telling dictates extremities of emotion to create an interesting premise). We care for him both as Banner and Hulk, we follow his struggle and sympathise with the person who has this incredible weight on his shoulders. We despise his father for he is the one who has masterminded the whole episode for his own greed (which ultimately is his own demise). One scene featuring Bana and Nolte between two great electro magnets, each of their fates lay in the others hand. A wonderful dynamic and brillaint setup, so we focus soley on their words and actions.
There are so many scenes in this film un-characteristic of this genre, or atleast how we percieve the genre, that you often feel as though it is a melodrama. This is where the greatness lies, the unexpected approach, the Father-Son dynamic, the mis understanding of ones self and the greed that ultimatley destroys us. To put a cherry on top of all this psycological and subtle stuff you have some seriously good CGI effects coupled with inventive editing, a soundtrack thats is as subtle and bold as the film and a finish which despite its cliche ends with the last frame. A overhead shot of the rain forest, on closer inspection is it moss or lichens? (which feature throughout), is it the symbolic clue to the complexity and nature of the Hulk?
What ever the interpretation, it is yours and thats where the beauty lies. Also an added satisfaction is that not everyone likes this film, not all critics blessed it as a work of art and those reasons are enough to make this one of the most importantly underrated films in modern cinema.
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on 3 April 2014
This is still my favourite of all the Hulk movies. Maybe because I'm a big fan of Eric Bana, but the movie itself is great and very beautiful. A lot of people strongly dislike this movie, but I can't see why. To me, it's a love-story gone wrong, that happens to have a Hulk in it. Great movie.
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on 12 July 2007
I put off watching this film for ages. Every review I'd seen or read said that it didn't cut the mustard, so it was with some trepidation that I coughed up £2 for it in HMV and sat back to watch it.

I was very surprised. This film is unique, stylish, well acted and superbly directed, but what it's not, is a kid's super-hero film.

The split screen usage was very well done (anyone who says this is confusing better stay away from The Andromeda Strain or The Boston Strangler!) and the CGI is quite remarkable. If you like films - not just super-hero films - then give this a go.

I'll be interested to see what the next one's like...
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VINE VOICEon 8 June 2009
Here's a funny thing. A film about a man who turns green and smashes stuff when he gets angry turns out not to really be about that after all.

When I first saw this film at the cinema I was left in a neither-here-nor-there frame of mind. I saw it was good on some level but didn't fully appreciate what I'd just seen. It wasn't really a film about the Hulk but a film about relationships which happened to have the Hulk in it. I could have left it right there and foolishly dismissed this film as so many others seem to have done.

After the umpteenth rewatching I finally see some of what I think Ang Lee was trying to show us in the first place. Now "Hulk" is on Blu-ray and the transfer is exceptional. TV broadcasts and even the original DVD always appeared slightly too murky and you sometimes strained to see what exactly what was going on. The pin-sharp picture and glorious palette are at last revealed by the wonders of HD. I liked the film before but now I've fallen in love it as an example of exemplary visual style finally doing justice to the film's "human" content.

It's a beautiful film about complex emotional issues transposed into a comic book world. Isolation, abandonment, love, familial duty, jealousy, emotional trauma and of course finally anger and frustration at emotional impotence and even repressed sexuality. Have no doubt this is a tragedy of immense proportions.

Hulk is a distinctly brave and visionary film which has largely been dismissed as just another comic book film by some yet it doesn't pander to a casual audience either. This is possibly why it was perceived as a failure by so many.

Particularly noteworthy is Jennifer Connelly's performance. Unhurried close-ups of her face, subtly reflecting her changing emotional involvement become almost overwhelming the longer the camera intrusively lingers. I'm tempted to say that this is possibly her best performance in a movie so far even though she's been great in so many others. It's easy to portray such (comic book) supporting characters as caricatures or stereotypes (just look at the dismal 2008 Hulk movie for evidence of that) but Lee and Connelly bring such depth to Betty Ross that she somewhat steals the whole film.
Eric Bana is well cast as the emotionally distant and vaguely unsympathetic Bruce Banner not forgetting the excellent supporting cast including Nick Nolte and Sam Elliott.
Action scenes are handled deftly but similar in tone to the work of legendary director Michelangelo Antonioni, the action is the merely the device by which the larger picture is revealed, and not the other way around.

The difficulty obviously arises when you try to sell a film like this to an everyday audience. Short sighted reliance on populist demographics is always going to fail with a work of this complexity. It has no easily identifiable niche.
So there you have it. A film that is neither fish nor fowl but adroitly occupies the no-man's land in between.

I feel certain that this film must eventually garner the level of praise and appreciation it truly deserves but probably only by future generations. Great films often have a disheartening habit of being unappreciated in their own time.
Make no mistake "Hulk" is a great film which improves with every viewing even if not everybody can see that.

Ang Lee constantly reaffirms just why he has earnt his place among the all-time directorial greats by constantly challenging audience preconceptions and never failing to create thoughtful and intelligent films whatever genre he works in.

"Hulk" a future classic?.......... I have absolutely no doubt.
22 comments|10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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