Hulk Movie Review: University of Maryland Student Reviewer

Now here is a critic that we can believe without reservation. A real college student newspaper review of the Hulk Movie.... "The film succeeds so wonderfully due in no small part to Lee's effort and interpretation."
After the tremendous showings Spider-Man and X2: X-Men United had at the box office, comic book movies seem to be a pretty safe bet (as much as any bet is safe in Hollywood world). It's not too hard to figure out why these outlandish stories of larger-than-life superheroes, as well as fantasy and magic-happy pictures such as Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are dominating contemporary cineplexes.

It seems that today's audiences enjoy retreating to a fictional world where the forces of good fight a clear and definable evil, where the hero always takes out the villain and takes home the girl and where honor and justice inevitably triumph over darkness.

However, the latest comic book flick, The Hulk, is hardly your typical superhero tale of good versus evil.

Director Ang Lee's versatility and originality shine brightly in The Hulk as he tackles the modern myth of scientist Dr. Bruce Banner, who releases his inner rage by transforming into the title character - an enormous green monster who leaves nothing but destruction in his wake.

The film rendition of this famous comic character begins, as do most myths, with a tale of the father. We see how David Banner, a U.S. military scientist researching immune systems and instinctive survival mechanisms, uses himself as a test specimen, and inadvertently passes his altered genes to his son Bruce. However, David is soon fired for breaking research protocols and returns to the Banner residence to do something so atrocious that the 4-year-old Bruce, who grows up as a foster child, completely represses the entire memory.

Bruce Banner (Eric Bana, fresh from his role as an Army Delta shooter in Black Hawk Down) is now a research scientist himself, coincidentally, specializing in his father's area, although he has no memory of his birth parents. Bruce has several problems beyond the lab, as his co-worker, Betty Ross (portrayed by Jennifer Connelly, who not only is INCREDIBLY HOT but also happens to be a sensational Academy Award-winning actress) has recently broken up with him because he has trouble expressing his feelings.

The plot thickens as Bruce's enigmatic father (Nick Nolte) turns up looking like the Unabomber and begins making inquiries into Bruce's research. Also interested in Bruce's breakthroughs with gamma radiation's effect on regenerative abilities is Betty's father, the cold-as-ice General Ross (Sam Elliot), who has a connection with the Banners himself.

The s--t really hits the fan after Bruce is bombarded by gamma rays during an experiment gone awry and transforms into the big, mean, green machine the Hulk, who destroys city blocks on a whim and can leap several miles in a single bound, whenever Bruce gets angry. The movie, although slow at the onset, goes off at a rocket pace from this point, and we see several ethical dilemmas unfold as the military hunts down the rogue Hulk, Betty tries to save Bruce and rekindle their love and David Banner plots his own ascension to genetic supremacy.

The film succeeds so wonderfully due in no small part to Lee's effort and interpretation. Lee tackles this classic comic book creation in a truly unique and innovative manner, choosing to view the universe not in the typical comic book black-and-white manner but instead giving us morality-colored gray. There are also many other subtexts interwoven into the central plot, with a myriad of themes dotting the movie's surface.

The movie extends past the boundaries set by the comic book genre to be a sensational monster film in its own right, as it plays almost as a modern Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and recalls all the exemplary mad scientist tribulations that arise when man decides to play God. The Hulk is almost the archetypal noble savage, as his heart of gold melts near his sweetheart, presenting him more as a misunderstood monster than a hideous creature.

Finally, not only does Lee's expert directing make use of an exciting plot (albeit with a bit of a hokey ending), a stellar cast and some truly great food-for-thought thematic ploys, but the style of the film also sets it above the rest. The overall feel of the movie makes the amazingly smooth CGI Hulk (seriously folks, I had my doubts as well at first, but the special effects in this one push the envelope even further for computer graphics) feel almost visceral, and Lee's truly creative cinematography - having multiple shots in one frame - make the film look like a (Guess what?) comic book.

Although it could have just been another comic book special effects extravaganza, Ang Lee's Hulk delivers because it is a truly versatile film with both subtle and gargantuan achievements, and therefore, even in a summer chock full of big blockbuster films, is bigger, better and meaner than the competition.
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