Hulk (2003): ***
Directed by Ang Lee
Ang Lee's film is a dichotomy. One the one hand it's got four-star
direction. On the other it has a two-star story. So I split the
difference: I give this movie three stars.
The direction is simply freakin' brilliant. More than any other
movie I have EVER seen, this film actually felt like I was
watching a comic book. Not since MTV's The Maxx miniseries
has something captured the absolute essence of comic book storytelling.
Hell, some shots even have frames and panels and the like. And not
only that, but it is gorgeous.
This film has one of Danny Elfman's best scores to date. Similarly
to the score for Crouching Tiger, this one is often dreamy
and meditative and hauntingly beautiful, even during times of intense
action. There are some really good Indian (from India, not America)
influences in bits of the music here and there, and it gives the
film a grandiose scale like the score for Lawrence of Arabia
helped give that film.
The thing I loved best about this film, though? The codename that
the military give so Bruce: ANGRY MAN!!! For the rest of this review
I shall only ever refer to Hulk as Angry Man.
I also really liked the Nick Nolte character, David Banner (Bruce's
dad), and how he makes a surprising turn in the course of the movie
from ordinary-person villainy to full-blown supervillainy. I also
really like that they named him David seeminly in honor of the Banner
from the TV show... The exploratoins of his powers are some of the
best visuals in the film, and lead to a startling finale in which
Bruce as Angry Man exploits his father's superpower to an extreme
degree. Unfortunately, though, the actual ending of the climax is
almost a deus ex machina that has nothing to do with Bruce's
skill or strength of character or anything.
The CGI Hulk was oftentimes too cartoony, but surpsingly worked
more often than I thought he would. But my expectations were so
low that that's not saying very much. The CGI dogs on the other
Many reviewers have praised this film as being the only comic book
movie that actually talks about the issues it presents in an intelligent
way. And it's true. The characters in this film are all highly intellegent
and very articulate. Just not alwasy terribly interesting. I think
this Hulk had simply too much to overcome from the get-go
because the main character is by design distant and uninvolving.
Therefore we are kept at an arm's lenght from his plight in the
film. We don't ever get to experience what he's experiencing. It's
almost like the wall that Bruce puts up between him and those around
him also extends to the audience, and we are reduced to simply watching
without being able to empathise. It sometimes made scenes that should
have been riveting rather boring.
Isn't Angry Man supposed to turn back into Bruce once he's not
angry anymore? Yet a few times throughout this film, Angry Man is
just wandering or leaping around, enjoying the scenery, clearly
not pissed-off anymore, but doesn't revert back to Bruce until he
sees Betty. That kind of made me want to Hulk-out.
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