Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc One: Feature commentary with director
Ang Lee; Hulk Cam: Inside the Rage access to behind the
scenes footage throughout the film; Thunderbirds teaser trailer.
Disc Two: Making of; Superhero Revealed: The Anatomy of the Hulk
- manipulate and dissect a 3D hulk model; Deleted scenes; Hulkification
"Youre Making Me Angry" scene drawn by
illustrators from around the world (in Japanese Anime, Euro Style
and Marvel Comics style); Evolution of the Hulk; The Incredible
Ang Lee; The Dog Fight Scene; The Unique Style of Editing the
Hulk; DVD-ROM content.
ONE of cinemas greatest visual artists turns his attentions
to the blockbuster market with surprisingly stylish results in
The Hulk, the latest Marvel comic to be given a big screen makeover.
Ang Lee has been responsible for some of the great movies of
recent years, including the period drama, Sense and Sensibility,
the Civil War epic, Ride With The Devil, and, most notably, Crouching
Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Yet his decision to take on the summer market raised a few eyebrows,
particularly when early trailers revealed The Hulk to be a digital
creation that looked decidedly dodgy. There was a very real fear
that Lee had created the wrong type of monster, and that audiences
would be the ones to become angry.
Yet now that the green giant has finally arrived, it has revealed
itself to be quite a creation - a blockbuster which delivers the
wow factor, while also working on an emotional level; a big budget
movie that could well appeal to the art-house crowd as well.
The Hulk functions as much as a tragedy as it does a full-on
crowd-pleaser, taking one mans struggle to find a place
for himself in the world, while understanding what has happened,
and turning it into a genuinely affecting emotional tussle.
Eric Bana stars as the quiet, sensitive research scientist, Bruce
Banner, who absorbs a normally deadly dose of gamma radiation
during an explosive lab accident, in which he selflessly saves
the life of a colleague.
As a result of his courage, Banner begins to experience side
effects, developing a super-human anger, that sees him transformed
into a giant green man-beast, known as The Hulk, who courts the
attention of the military, led by the father (Sam Elliott) of
Banners ex-girlfriend (Jennifer Connelly).
Yet while the Army seeks to harness this temper for its own ends,
Banner struggles to understand and contain it, drawing on the
support of his former lover, and his estranged father (Nick Nolte),
in a bid to end his personal torment.
The ensuing battle of wits makes for engrossing viewing, and
it is credit to Lee that the special effects - when they arrive
- merely serve to enhance, and not detract, from the human emotion
Though more serious than the likes of Spider-Man,
and rivalling Tim Burtons Batman in the darkness stakes,
The Hulk still retains a sense of fun, and provides a visual feast,
courtesy of a number of different filming techniques (from slow-mo,
to split screen, etc).
It looks beautiful throughout, and contains a nice line in humour
(more ironic, than outright funny, although TV Hulk, Lou Ferrignos
cameo, is very well-observed).
And while several of the support players may feel under-used
(most notably, Josh Lucas love-rival), the four-way tussle
between its central protagonists plays up to the strengths of
its cast, with Nolte, especially, revelling in his role as The
Hulks mad father/creator.
The romance between Bana and Connelly is another strong-point,
carrying with it an impending sense of tragedy throughout - and
just as Spider-Mans kiss with his sweetheart provided that
movie with one of its highpoints, so too does Banas reunion
with Connelly, following The Hulks San Francisco rampage.
The Hulk, himself, also turns out to be a far more impressive
creation than the early trailers suggested - not as expressive
as CGIs finest, Gollum, but suitably fun to be around.
Audiences should delight in his anger, particularly later on,
as he is chased across the desert by the military and sets about
the tanks and helicopters with relative glee.
There are failings, of course, most notably in the films
overblown running time, and its weird finale, while early
sightings of The Hulk seem deliberately designed to mask the CGI
shortcomings - being set at night, or at great pace, so as not
to allow the eyes to focus.
Yet the lasting impression is one of quality, for in terms of
ambition alone, this should leave the majority of this years
blockbusters green with envy, while whetting the appetite for
the inevitable sequel.