Hulk 2003

It’s finally time for me to begin assembling for the Avengers, and while many people try to forget this installment of the franchise and it was made before Marvel decided to make all the movies lead up to a big crossover movie event, it is generally considered that The Incredible Hulk is a sequel and not a reboot. So by this theory I decided to watch this version of the Hulk first to refresh my memory before heading into its sequel. On top of that, it’s a great chance for me to once again become involved with the LAMB and their Lamb’s in the Director’s Chair. This time around the director is Ang Lee who at the time seemed like a very interesting choice to take on The Hulk. He had just come off of his acclaimed and popular Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and it was thought that he would bring a unique take on the Hulk, and he definitely did do that even if it might not have been a good thing.

I vaguely remember going to see this movie when it first came out, it was just a couple years after X-Men and it was a part of the superhero movie boom at the time. I believe it had moderate appeal and success and then as time went on it got a huge internet backlash. I remember liking it at the time, and watching it again it absolutely held my interest the entire way through, but a combination of all the hate I’ve read about the movie along with the undeniable fact that a lot of choices made in this movie were completely wrong, and I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I first did. I generally agreed with most of the complaints I remember hearing about this movie except for one: I thought the CGI for the Hulk in this movie wasn’t that bad, in fact it was quite good. I remember that at the time it was held up as the height of CGI detail and I thought it looked fantastic. The only time I had a problem with the CGI Hulk was during the leaping scenes, they just didn’t give him enough inertia or momentum and he just bounced unbelievably off the ground like he was a flea rather than a two ton Hulk.

Seeing four different angles of military vehicles barely moving does not make them more interesting.

One of the biggest problems I had with this movie was the pacing. It dragged on way too long without making any progress. There was no reason that it should have taken 40 minutes before the Hulk made an appearance and fully halfway into the movie before the Hulk fought anything. Not only that, but throughout all that setup, hardly anything was really explained, it was just set up to be explained later. I don’t understand how there can be an hour of setup and there is almost no explanation of what happened to Bruce or his parents. The second half of the movie fares a bit better, but it never really moved past a casual trot. The movie clocks in at over two hours, but I think it could have been a much better movie if it was cut down to about an hour and forty five minutes if not shorter.

Ang Lee had a unique concept that he wanted to use split screens in this movie to give it a feel like a comic book. In theory it was a great idea and it had been used to great effect in the show 24. Unfortunately in this movie it was only used effectively in a couple scenes. In the rest of the scenes where it was used, it felt just like a gimmick rather than an effective storytelling tool. The last place that is needed to give a paneled effect is what felt like a five minute scene of Bruce Banner being transported across the desert. I doubt any comic book would have wasted the equivalent of two pages on that scene. There were a few scenes where I really appreciated the visual flair that didn’t even use the paneled effect, like the scene where Bruce is looking at an old picture which comes to life as it becomes the memory of when the picture was taken. There is also a great scene where the Hulk is falling from the sky and he has a dream of looking in the mirror and Bruce sees the Hulk. Moments like that were absolutely brilliant, they were just too few and too far between.

This was actually a cool scene, and it made my wife jump too.

The cast for this movie was kind of hit and miss. I’m a fan of Jennifer Connelly and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her any time she was on camera. I thought she played a great Betty Ross. And her father General Ross was played by the great Sam Elliott who was one of the few things I loved in Ghost Rider and he is just as good in this movie. From what little I know of the Hulk from the comic books, I know that General Ross is one of the Hulks biggest adversaries, but in this movie he is very sympathetic. Every one of his decisions in this movie is perfectly justifiable based on his character, his duties, and the love for his daughter along with his near inability to show it. Unfortunately I don’t think Eric Bana was the best choice for Bruce Banner. Every time he got angry, he just looked like he was going to have a seizure or a stroke. And when he wasn’t angry, he wasn’t much of anything else at all. And finally there’s Nick Nolte as the completely mental David Banner who goes from the verge of craziness to completely over the top crazy, all the while looking just like his famous mug shot photo.

This is seriously the final fight in the movie. It looks like a giant fart bubble.

There is just a lot of bad decisions associated with this movie, and I came into it wanting to like it again, but I just couldn’t get past all of the problems I kept seeing. I haven’t even mentioned the fact that the Hulk fights a trio of mutated dogs including a poodle. Not only that, but he kills them by smashing them to a green pulp right in front of Betty Ross. And that’s the scene where she’s supposed to feel sympathetic to him. Even if it’s a mutant dog, I find it hard to find sympathy for a green monster that just smashed three dogs to death in front of me. And the climactic battle with his father is resolved when he gets really really angry, feeding his anger energy to a giant jellyfish looking bubble that gets hit with a missile or bomb and evaporates into a green mist. I wish I were kidding. Thursday I’ll be taking a look at the much better sequel to this movie before I assemble the rest of the Avengers. Be sure to come back tomorrow as well when I try out a new weekly feature. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.


About Bubbawheat

I'm a comic book movie enthusiast who has watched and reviewed over 500 superhero and comic book movies in the past seven years, my goal is to continue to find and watch and review every superhero movie ever made.

Posted on April 22, 2012, in 00's movies, Marvel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I’m one of those who disliked the movie on the first viewing; never given it a second chance. I agree with a lot of the points you make here — including the positive ones. I actually liked all the casting decisions; Bana’s expressions of anger weren’t the greatest, but he did well enough otherwise, that I wonder if a better director could have gotten him more on target there. And Nolte’s acting was decent, it’s just that the character arc for his role was so terrible. The comic-book paneling was a great idea, but poorly executed. And that ending… stupid. Just stupid. Even if I’d been with the film all the way through, that might well have soured me on it all by itself.

    Great review. Sorry you didn’t like it as well this time around; even if I’m not a fan, I still prefer people enjoy the movies they watch.

    • I did still enjoyed watching the movie, for all the bad parts of the movie it still managed to draw me in most of the time. There are very few movies that are bad enough to ruin my enjoyment of watching the movie, if I didn’t enjoy watching them, I wouldn’t watch them.

      As a sidenote, I try my hardest not to be one of those reviewers of bad movies that just thrash a movie, call it horrible names and talk about how they would rather cause harm to themselves rather than watch the movie again. If something doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, in the end, it’s still a movie.

      • I can agree with that. I mean, I do enjoy tearing into a particularly bad film, but even at my snarkiest I still try to make sure I’m still calling out specific flaws in the film rather than just saying “this is terrible, shoot me now.” And I try to point out where the film does have redeeming values (such as the acting in this film). There aren’t a whole lot of movies that are just pure failures across the board.

    • I just mentioned those kind of reviews because I see them a lot when looking around at other comic book movie reviews that are considered the worst of the worst.

      • I hear you on that. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that a lot of comic book fans are very vocal about their opinions, but they’re comic book fans, not movie fans. So while they’ve seen all the comic book movies, including the admittedly large selection of truly terrible comic book movies, they haven’t seen all that many awful or great films overall. So a bad comic book movie becomes “the worst film ever” and a good one is “robbed” if it didn’t get an Oscar nomination, even though both statements are, generally, pure hyperbole.

  2. It’s not a terrible film by any means, just a very different type of superhero flick than we’re so used to seeing. Which means that it’s very boring even though plenty of moments here are pretty good. Nice review.

    • I can get that some people are happy with seeing a different sort of superhero movie, but taken as a drama, I still thought the plot was rather convoluted. I do get the feeling that a lot more movie lovers like this movie than comic book lovers.

  3. I’m a massive fan of this film. Hugely prefer it to the Ed Norton Hulk. Loved the casting. Eric Bana was the perfect Bruce Banner. Definitely a bit of a slow mover, which I preferred. The story grabbed me more than the second Hulk film’s did.

    • I personally thought Bana was a little too reserved during the quiet scenes. The ones I liked the best was anytime he was interacting with Betty Ross. Slow moving is good for some movies, but I think very few people would equate the Hulk with slow moving.

    • I may not agree, but you’re in good (if not plentiful) company on that; Roger Ebert stated in his commentary on Thor that he preferred Ang Lee’s Hulk to the second one.

  4. I’ve never seen this Hulk. Mutant poodles and giant fart bubbles that get hit by missiles! I don’t think that I want to see it. I agree that appointing Ang Lee as director seemed like an interesting choice, but it sounds like it was just wrong.

  5. I actually saw this for the first time on telly last night (review up soon). Having read and heard so much negativity about this film, I really expected to hate it, but in all honesty I didn’t think it was that bad; even the mutant dog bit wasn’t as stupid as I had imagined it. I completely agree that the bouncing Hulk looked stupid, but what was worse was that the Hulk seemed to have the face of a 14 year old boy! The CG wasn’t too bad, but his face was so wrong (as were the tight purple trousers!).

    I completely agree with all of your other points though.

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