- Rated PG-13
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All photos © Universal
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
he Incredible Hulk may be the latest superhero to make the jump to the big screen, but he's probably going to disappoint more than a few fans this summer – namely because he isn’t so much a superhero as he is a psychiatrist’s worst nightmare. The supposed action blockbuster doesn’t even belong in the same class as the likes of “Spider-Man" and “X-Men,” because even though Ang Lee’s psycho-dramatic portrayal of the big green machine is certainly a unique direction to take, it’s ultimately not what the fanboys were expecting. “Hulk” isn’t a complete failure, but when it takes nearly an hour for the big guy to appear on screen, well, it’s no surprise that it isn’t a total success either.
Poor Bruce Banner (Eric Bana). After being dumped by his girlfriend, Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly), for failing to open up, he’s exposed to gamma radiation in a science experiment-gone-wrong, resulting in his transformation into a mutated green monster that can’t suppress his feelings. Unlike the original story, though, Banner doesn’t transform into the Hulk only because of his exposure to the radiation. He’s also affected by a hereditary gene passed on from his father (Nick Nolte), a mad scientist who formerly worked for the military on a revolutionary but dangerous genetic project that he tested on himself. Now, Betty’s father, General Ross (Sam Elliot), has teamed up with a shady military officer (Josh Lucas) to help capture Banner and the monster trapped inside.
Though the trailers seemed to hint otherwise, there isn’t nearly as much action as you’d expect in “Hulk.” It takes far too long before he even appears, and when he finally does make his grand entrance, it’s a bit anticlimactic. Instead, Lee chooses to focus on the more tragic elements of Banner’s condition – viewing him as a modern day Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde who is still every bit human, even when he’s a monster. This isn’t necessarily a poor decision on his part (in fact, Lee should be applauded for even thinking about going this route with the Hulk), but it also isn’t what many envisioned from a big-budget action film starring a nearly indestructible superbeing that could level an entire city with one hand tied behind his back.
When it comes to a film about the Hulk, fans want to see their favorite superhero wreaking havoc, not crying about his problems, and the fact that Lee so effortlessly ignores the character’s official canon (by allowing the Hulk to grow in size the angrier he gets), certainly doesn’t help his cause. Still, despite its problems, “Hulk” works relatively well as the dark psychodrama it aims to be. The 11-foot CGI Hulk may look a little cartoonish, the addition of rabid Hulk dogs is downright lame, and the use of comic book panel editing is an acquired taste, but it still looks and feels like a superhero movie, even if it didn’t turn out exactly the way we wanted it to.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
The single-disc release of “Hulk” is, as expected, a complete clone of the original DVD, but that’s hardly a bad thing since most of the extras have aged really well. The audio commentary with director Ang Lee is insightful, but those looking for a more in-depth look at production will want to check out “The Making of Hulk,” which covers everything from story and casting to SFX and music. “The Evolution of Hulk” is a really cool look at the character’s history in comics, TV and film, while “The Unique Style of Editing Hulk” shows what went into creating the comic book panel look. Rounding out the set are deleted scenes, a profile on the film’s director (“The Incredible Ang Lee”), and an interesting making-of on the dog fight sequence. The Blu-ray also includes a picture-in-picture video track, but a majority of the material (if not all of it) can already be found in one of the many production featurettes.