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  • 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 hand... ugh...

    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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