Saturday, July 25, 2015

SUPERHERO SATURDAY: Review: HULK


Hulk (2003)
Directed by Ang Lee, starring Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Josh Lucas, and Nick Nolte

From Universal Pictures and the Oscar-winning director of Life of CGI- I mean Pi- comes the one modern superhero movie that, to this day, makes me want to smash every time I watch it.

Eric Bana plays Bruce, a brilliant but emotionally distant scientist who, along with fellow scientist and ex-girlfriend, Betty (Jennifer Connelly), blow up frogs with gamma radiation in an effort to cure... something. I don't know, I forgot. Anyways, Bruce gets caught in a blast of radiation and survives, but now whenever he gets angry, he transforms into a rampaging, badly computer-generated, not-so-jolly green giant. A grizzly old fart named David Banner (Nick Nolte) begins stalking Bruce, claiming to be his father. Speaking to his son in riddles, we can guess- really, we can only guess- Banner passed some kind of side effect of self-experimentation on to his boy that was then triggered by Bruce's accident. There's also Betty's general dad (Sam Elliot) who wants the Hulk for something (still not sure), and some douchebag (Josh Lucas) that also has an interest in Bruce, but also has an interest in getting into Betty's pants.


I was really let down by Hulk when I saw it in theaters the summer of 2003. I thought it was overly serious and lame. Looking at the film now, however, I can honestly say- and I hate to quote an overused meme from the internet- but what the fuck is this shit?! This is a joke, right? In hindsight, it might as well be. It was 2003, after all. I wouldn't be shocked if Ashton Kutcher jumped out at us coming out of the theater going, "You got Punk'd!"

This is not an adaptation of The Incredible Hulk. Universal and Ang Lee had no faith in the source material whatsoever. Don't let the comic book panel-style split-screens and editing fool you; Hulk is a film ashamed that it's based on a comic book. There's no sense of entertainment value. It's all so, so serious. You might as well call this movie The Incredible Sulk (Thank you, Don Jamieson). Performance-wise, you've got mopey (Bana and Connelly) and crazy (Nolte, Elliot, and Lucas) and nothing else. Nobody seems to be having any fun in this movie. And Lee completely misses the point of the character. The Incredible Hulk is the Jeckyll and Hyde of the post-Atomic Age. He represents something base in us as human beings we all keep buried inside us, be it rage or anything else we don't want anyone to see. Instead, Ang Lee and co-writer James Schamus decided to blame The Hulk on Daddy.

Papa, can you hear me?
Lee's goal of elevating the material completely backfires, as Industrial Light and Magic give us the worst visual effects ever for a big summer movie. The CGI is so cartoony that it's unintentionally hilarious to watch. The Hulk looks like a 'roid-raging Shreck. Also, why is he almost as big as fucking King Kong halfway through the movie? But the biggest laugh-out-loud effects sequence is when Hulk comes face-to-face with three ugly Hulk Dogs. The awfulness of the VFX next to the woe-as-me tone of the film is really jarring. I'm sure ILM were embarrassed by their work on Hulk. They were able to make Yoda face Christopher Lee in a lightsaber duel just the year before! They should be embarrassed.

Visit your local adoption center today.
Not surprising the word "Incredible" was left out of the title of this movie, giving how bad it is, but Ang Lee should have left Hulk out of it, too. There's barely any resemblance to the character or his magazines in this movie. This picture is Ang Lee's criticism of us as American moviegoers. Congratulations, bub. You made us feel bad for watching a movie based on a comic book. I hope you're happy, you prick. I'm glad Crash won.

Does this version of Ol' Jade Jaws still make you want to Hulk out? Sound off in the comments below. You can also follow me on Twitter: @DoctorSplatter

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