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Everything turned out to be too bad ...
BiiivAL4 June 2018
Few people actually realized that this is not exactly a superhero action movie. More precisely, he is not superhero. After all, the Hulk has never really been a hero. Always in exile and persecution of enemies.

And it was very skillfully shown by Eng Lee. He created what Christopher Nolan later did. As it turned out, the audience was not ready for the drama "about comics." Maybe it was simply not worth shooting this film by Eng Lee, although he portrayed the perfect drama. He showed the Hulk quite the other side.

Personally, I am a sincere fan of this film, like comics in general. All as always waited for a passing summer "militancy", which they are feeding us up to now and will do it again. Everything turned out to be too bad ...

Eric Bana did everything right, that would not say critics. He showed all the experiences of the hero as it was not in the comics, but as it would be in real life.

Jennifer Connelly in my opinion did not show anything, except for some tears. Bad.

Nick Nolty stood out most of all. He truly played the villain and father of Bruce Banner. The brightest figure in the film.

I appreciate only the game of actors, since this is not an action.

I'll put the film as a first-rate drama created by a first-rate director who later created the best drama in general (Brokeback Mountain):
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Wonderful Piece of art - incredibly underrated
borkoboardo23 February 2011
In a time where superhero movies seem to come from the assembly line and standards are (sadly) set already it is hard to find gems that really transcend these paradigms.

Ang Lee made a different approach to the superhero genre - and the people didn't like it! Why? After Daredevil, Blade, Elektra, Aeon Flux, League of extraordinary gentlemen, Spiderman (yes, i mean it), Spawn, etc etc there are many parallels you can draw between superhero films. And Hulk is the only thing that the others aren't: un-American! In a very rare exception we have a film here that doesn't have the arrogance and straight-forward story that we seem to have gotten used to too easily.

Spiderman (in particular) follows the EXACT steps you can read in a tutorial for film making - that may be neat to watch but leaves no space for surprises or artistic inputs. Ang Lee seems to have taken especially this thought very seriously and created a piece of art that the average pop-corn-formula-film-liking movie-goer may find hard to digest. No doubt, this movie is not made for assembly-line-film-lovers - it is constructed very thoughtfully and goes beyond the interpretation of a superhero. It plays with the chaos that erupts out of the events rather than glorifying another world saviour.

There is no real good and evil, there only is an overcharge from both sides that don't know how to master the situation. The American movie-goer averagely wants black and white sides, a proud US-flag waving and a hero that saves the day (+nation and eventually the world, maybe even the universe). Nope, not in this one. While most of the other films establish superheroes as something that fits perfectly into our society, Hulk plays with the idea of what would happen if unknown uncontrolled untameable power surfaces - and that both sides act incredibly humane. At this point 80% of movie-consumers are out and 90% of movie-lovers come in (that number is small as we know).

I appreciated the rather unconventional storytelling, I admire the cast, I treasure the artistic hybrid of comic and reality and I enjoyed the portrayal of energy. Now, anyone who has seen Asian action films will find many parallels - the question is, are YOU ready to adapt to some of those standards when they are being poured over a western story? I was... And I was overwhelmed!

Anyone calling this movie the worst film they've ever seen (and there are quite few stating this) should stay with Spiderman, Transformers and Blade and get the same product over and over again (because they keep buying it). For my part I was grateful to see that there are people out there who get the chance to put a very distinctive stamp on their work making it unique and deep.

Five years later the audience won and an assembly line version was released, not as bad as some others but definitely not as creative and visionary as this one. Great job Ang!!!!!
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surprising art film
smvouriot23 July 2012
Hulk is a very surprising film. When I first saw it when I was like nine or ten I was confused, shocked and somewhat disappointed. My expectations at the time had not been met. What I had been expecting and hoping was just endless scenes of the hulk smashing sh#t up. What I got was an art film. At the time I didn't understand or care about any of the split screens, dream sequences, etc, I was just waiting for the hulk to show up and destroy stuff.(The hulk dosen't show up till about 40 minutes into the movie, by the way.) I eventually began to get restless because it is a very slow movie and when it was over I felt very disappointed.

A few years later I bought the DVD to give it another try, and I was very surprised with how good it actually was, now that I had gotten older and could appreciate the style, acting and pretty much everything else. The acting is quite good in the film, especially Nick Nolte, who almost steals the show as Bruce Banner's father, David Banner. Eric Bana is decent as the hulk, but I prefer Mark Ruffalo as the hulk in the avengers. Unlike other movies based on comic books, Hulk actually looks like a comic book, due to the split screens. This works most of the time,as it gives the film a unique look thats different from other comic book movies.

Now to the much criticised CGI, which for me is a mixed bag. The close ups of the hulk work, because his facial expressions are well done and you can actually feel sympathy for him. However the long shots of him, especially in the desert scenes, look a bit cheesy but definitely not as bad as some critics have been saying. Apart from that the visual effects are top notch.

Overall, Hulk is a refreshing change from standard and bland superhero movies. It takes its time setting up the plot and characters, which works because you have almost fully fleshed out characters and not cardboard cut outs. The repressed memories and psychology of the hulk is much more interesting than the standard heroics of superman or captain America. So to sum it up, I wouldn't recommend this movie to young kids because there are a number of intense scenes and it is a fairly long and slow movie, so those with short attention spans won't be well rewarded. But for those who are prepared to accept that it is more an art film than an action film then you will be well rewarded.

The film isn't perfect, but every time I watch it on DVD it grows on me and I find myself wishing sometimes that more action blockbusters were like this, but then if they were I doubt they would be blockbusters.
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Ahead of its time - Good back story
daveogilvie21 May 2016
If you saw this when it first came out, you would probably have hated the split screen cut away's etc The story seemed complicated at the time and it was the first re-enactment since the TV series so a lot of the audience had a sentimental attachment to Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. I've watched this on TV over the years and for some reason I am strongly drawn to it. I just think its underrated. Watching it now 21st May 2016 I think it does fit in with the Marvel Universe and offers a good backstory especially of his love for Betty Ross. The affects are not totally bad as when you watch you become more enthralled with the story. I am still not a fan of the split screen/24 dual story imaging but otherwise I think it is an underrated film. I'm neither DC or Marvel i'm more the action hero and for me it was always Superman and Spiderman /Incredible Hulk as the also rans. Superman was just the hero. As a kid growing up nothing more i'd love to do sometimes would be wear a shirt id grown out of and try and do muscular stretches at 10 and burst that old school shirt. This film has grown on me now i'm 43 and while I did n't like it at the time its grown on me the more I've seen it over the years on TV. Superman Returns V Hulk then this wins as Superman Returns was such a missed opportunity. Casting is great Bana,Elliot,Connelly and even Nolte buying into comic book Folk Lore for the time. When I first watched Hulk id have given it a 5.5 i'd now have to say its worth a 7. The special effects are not bad still - ie they draw you in and you don';t question the rendering like some tech head. The story seems easier to understand and HULK as a character fits in with the current Avengers Marvel Universe. Overall it's a film thats aged well and should be up-rated rather than under rated.
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Terrible Marketing, Great Film
s-kubrick3 June 2005
"Hulk" is a film which is widely considered a failure, both financially and artistically. Yet in the latter category this movie has a lot on offer: masterful editing, good acting and the direction of a true master.

What Ang Lee has tried to achieve, namely merging the pulp-story of the Hulk with the scale and drama of a Greek tragedy has been well achieved. The scope of the story and its effects on the characters are only to be taken seriously on a truly grand scale, and by supplying the protagonists with interwoven back-stories Lee and his screenwriters are making it clear that this is not to be seen as a realistic story, but an epic metaphor.

Special kudos goes to Timothy Squyres, who does one marvelous job of creating an editing similar to a comic's design. This pays tribute to the source material's pulp origins as well making an impressive visual statement. "Hulk" looks and feels like no other film, which makes it one of the most interesting, if not one of the best comic- adaptations of all time.

The crux is that this movie does not know who it's aimed at. The intellectual Ang Lee- connoisseur picks his nose when it comes to the Hulk, simply due to its humble roots, while the average popcorn-cinema-goer is slightly irritated when confronted with the films "odd" approach to comic-movies. This means that only viewers which are a bit of both can truly appreciate this masterpiece.

All the other elements for a good piece of entertainment are there and present: Eric Bana is, as usual, fine as the tormented soul which manifests itself in green rage, Jennifer Connelly is as solid as ever and Nick Nolte steals the show with what is a truly weird turn as Bruce Banner's/the Hulk's dad. The visual effects are beautifully executed as well. There is not much left to be desired.

It's a pity such an interesting and brave film gets a rating of slightly above 6 at IMDb.
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The most introspective of the Marvel superhero movies that have come out so far
flipcritic24 June 2003
Of all the big name superheroes Marvel has to offer, HULK is one of the easiest to gravitate to. It's not hard to find what makes him appealing. Superficially, he is an unstoppable raging behemoth whose strength is rarely matched. This alone would be an obvious foundation for a film franchise. What is surprising (and ultimately refreshing) about this one is its willingness to explore the depth of the Hulk's dilemma. If the film's jade giant were absent from this movie, its story could still be the frame for another.

The movie starts with an army scientist named David Banner who performs genetic experiments for the government. He carries one out on himself before fathering his son Bruce. After a few years into Bruce's childhood, a tragic event occurs, which results in David's incarceration for 30 years and separation from his son.

Upon maturing, Bruce also becomes a scientist. Instead of his father's obsession with genetics, he develops a fascination for gamma rays and nano-med (almost subatomic medicinal) technology. He becomes victim of a lab accident that unleashes the Hulk; partly due to genetic mutation he inherited from his father, who just happens to work on the base as janitor, recently released from his sentence. To make things more interesting, Banner's co-scientist, Betty Ross is his former flame. And she just happens to be the daughter of General Ross, the man who jailed David Banner during his family's tragedy. It is this terrible event that holds the key to why Bruce transforms to his monstrous side, and to how their reunion will end.

The movie starts slow, with admirable character development. By the time the Hulk appears, everyone's motivations are known with each personality sharply distinguished. Ang Lee loves showing humanity and human frailty in his stories as he has done exceptionally in EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN, THE WEDDING BANQUET, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, and THE ICE STORM. We discover the hidden storylines, the human aspects that can be just as interesting as the action. We discover that Bruce and Betty have both had fathers that they could never count on (that's probably what brought them together). We see David Banner and General Ross not primarily as power hungry males, but as caring fathers as well. We experience Bruce Banner's awkwardness and inability to express himself adequately, which makes us understand all the more why he begins to `enjoy' transforming into his raging alter-id.

Though it's true that the Hulk doesn't appear until 45 minute into the movie, once he does, the action hardly stops. Sure there are scenes of destruction, but they are calculated, punctuating turning points in the movie, instead of bombarding the audience as mayhem in others. The backdrops upon which these action sequences are set upon are breathtaking. The battles rage from an underground base, to the vast majestic Monument Valley landscape, all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge and even to the very stratosphere. I can still vividly recall Images of the Hulk clashing with `hulk-dogs' in the California Redwood forests and him being chased by helicopter gunships in a concave rock formation in the Arizona desert.

People remember Ang Lee for CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON, which many consider (present company included) to be the greatest martial arts picture ever made. It left such big shoes to fill, even for Lee (At one point TIME Magazine labeled him, `America's Best Director'). Those who recall CROUCHING TIGER remember its sublime images of combat, but what set it apart in its genre was its poetic character involvement. We cared deeply for Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien, for their values, and for their quest for the green destiny. Lee does the same for HULK. In exposing its characters to danger, he wishes to reveal the gravity of their situations. Hardly ever does anyone utter a mutter a snappy line, emote a mushy sentiment, or deliver a cliché expression.

Compare Bruce Banner's discovery of his newfound abilities with Peter Parker's (of SPIDER-MAN). He reacts with deep fear and confusion, whereas Parker reacts with excitement and exhilaration. The latter may be more amiable for audiences, but if I found out that I was growing microscopic claws on my fingertips and spewing webbing from my wrists, I'd be freaking out. Spider-Man has the comfort of shooting off a few quips along with his webs as he confronts his foes. Banner, along with other characters in HULK have no such luxury. The movie is not without joy though. It has several humorous moments, none of them in a light-hearted sense though.

It should be said that this picture was blessed with a great cast. Eric Bana (BLACK HAWK DOWN & CHOPPER), who has star written all over him, conveys inner turmoil-slash-solidity very effectively as Bruce Banner. The ever-beautiful Jennifer Connelly reprises her wife-of-a-brilliant-but-mentally-unstable-scientist role from A BEAUTIFUL MIND as Betty Ross. I thought her main purpose was to appear as a captivating yet unreachable beauty for both Banner and the Hulk, and she serves her role perfectly. Nick Nolte has to my mind never given a bad performance, and he appears valuably scruffy and deceivingly two-faced as David Banner (he could be confused for one of the hulk-dogs). But of all of the main players, Sam Elliot (THE CONTENDER, WE WERE SOLDIERS, & THE BIG LEBOWSKI) impressed me the most with his controlled and palpable intensity as General Ross. At one point, with his glistening complexion and bulging neck veins, he looked more intimidating than the Hulk.

The movie has a lot of other assets. It has a memorable score by Danny Elfman (who also did BATMAN and SPIDER-MAN). It has beautiful cinematography by Frederick Elmes (THE ICE STORM). It has wondrous visualization by using split-screens like window panes in comic books, such as several angles in one shot, or one window opening up into another (this is the most inventive use of the technique since Brian De Palma's FEMME FATALE). It also has buried moments of lyrical dueling between different characters. When Betty Ross says, `You weren't that hard to find.' and Banner retorts `Yes I was.' that instant carried a greater emotional weight. You'll understand it once you see it.

Fans of the Hulk (like me) will be familiar with the several storylines that have been amalgamated into the screenplay, one of them being David Banner, who is Bruce's character in THE INCREDIBLE HULK TV series (speaking of which, Lou Ferrigno, who portrayed the TV Hulk, appears in a cameo with Stan Lee). The rest I leave up to the `Hulksters'. But for all the pluses that HULK has, the ones that I will take home with me are its ideas. That the Hulk is not just rage, he is pure innocence. He only smashes when provoked. He is a near mindless brute, but when calm, he is a child. He smites tanks that fire at him as a toddler would kick a toy after tripping over it.

As a character, the Hulk is the ultimate childlike id, the source of all instinctual impulses and demands for immediate satisfaction of primitive needs. As a film, THE HULK is the most introspective of the Marvel superhero movies that have come out so far. The X-MEN films have had the disadvantage of having too many characters, resulting in too many protagonists to follow. SPIDER-MAN and the BLADE movies were all about entertainment. Many comic book films barely touch on their themes, but HULK actually wants to deal with the issues it raises. No wonder I gravitate to it.
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Ang Lee's "Hulk" is a singular masterpiece of the super-hero genre
ajsarte29 June 2012
I know the current "Avengers" movies are popular right now, and everybody digs Mark Ruffalo's version of the Hulk (myself included), I still consider Ang Lee's 2003 "Hulk" to be one of the finest comic book based movies ever, and contrary to popular belief, one of the most faithful. Being a true fan of the Hulk comic stories from the 60's to the 80's, I think I can say this with credibility. I'm also coming from the angle that the 70's TV show is not the real Hulk.

First, Ang Lee's film is extremely faithful to the comics. Watching the movie, it was as if some scenes were lifted right out of the Stan Lee stories. Hulk fighting army tanks in the desert, Hulk leaping over canyon cliffs, Hulk touching the reaches of space, and yes, even Hulk dogs are from the comics. Hulk's father in the movie is directly based on Bruce's father in the comics, Brian Banner, who was abusive and allegedly had a hand in Hulk's origin. The many villain incarnations that David Banner takes on at the end of the film are not just the Absorbing Man, but are an amalgam of many of Hulk villains including Zzax.

Second, Ang Lee's film was less about simply "Hulk Smash" and more about the idea of the Hulk. The idea of evolution, the idea of repression and subsequent freedom from that repression. It's interesting that every Ang Lee film is similarly about this idea of repression. Repressed gay cowboys, repressed women in China, a repressed slave finding freedom after the Civil War, etc. The evolution idea is expressed in the food chain of "Hulk" creatures we see in the movie. First a frog, then dogs, Hulk himself, and then a near "Hulk god" in David Banner. Evolution is also cinematically expressed in the morph edits seen throughout the film. Contrary to popular belief, the multi-frame editing was not just about mimicking a a comic book, it was about expressing the idea of freedom from repression, of seeing something from different angles, different points of view, different sides, much like Bruce has a "different side" to him. If you notice, the multi-angles many times show us the same subject but from a different camera angle. The idea of the Hulk is also metaphorically visually expressed through the imagery of atomic mushroom clouds and jellyfish, two visually similar objects. It expresses the idea that this Hulk was born of two of the greatest known forces in the universe, genetic and atomic force.

It's Ang Lee's masterful filmmaking, strong use of visual metaphor, and faithfulness to the original comics that really sets his Hulk film apart for me. Perhaps the one scene that really spells out what Ang Lee is doing and also brought me back to the old comics was that first close-up we see of Hulk free and jumping through the desert to the haunting Danny Elfman music. Classic.
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The most underrated film of all time
jamesnicholls-5860017 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I first watched this film in 2003 when I was a little kid, despite it being a film more fitting for mature audiences I still understood it to a certain extent and enjoyed it. When the other Hulk film came out in 2008, I initially enjoyed that one more because it had more action in it and I was still too young to appreciate the story of the Ang Lee Hulk film fully. Then a few years later I rewatched Ang Lee Hulk and realised just how great it was and how underrated it was. My point is, only intelligent people realise how great this film is, and from my life experience I can prove that personally as I didn't like this film nowhere near as much during my childhood when I was of course less intelligent than I am now. If people were smarter on average the ratings for this film would be far higher.

I thought the CGI in this film was brilliant, especially for it's day. It's quite pathetic that with the new Ruffalo Hulk in the Avengers, they have millions more dollars to spend extensive CGI work done to that and newer technology but despite that Ang Lee's Hulk still looks better in my opinion. The Hulk in this film not only looks the most ferocious out of all the Hulk incarnations from films but it's also truer to the comics as well, in this film Hulk actually grows in size the angrier he gets unlike in the other films and his colour is also more accurate to the comics, more green and in general more of a better colour. Another reason why I think the 2003 Hulk character is better is because Hulk in this film seems to far more powerful than the 2008 version and more powerful than the new one, for example I can't imagine the Hulk from this movie losing to Thanos like the Hulk from the MCU did because this Hulk actually had unlimited power and clearly got much stronger the angrier he got.

A lot of people criticise this film because it doesn't have as much action of the Hulk smashing things. But that's part of the problem, if the typical Marvel fan got what they wanted then 90% of this film would've just been non-stop action involving the Hulk, but that's simply not what intellectuals crave, certainly not in that enormous quantity, of course though if it was like that then it would be hardly any different from a typical MCU movie of today but probably even worse. I think it had a good mix of action, drama and emotion in this film. If Marvel fans want mindless action then they should go see a random Bruce Willis flick instead, this film is for smart people who appreciate the sheer emotion this film dishes out.

I think Thunderbolt Ross was far better in this than the other Hulk films. The Thunderbolt Ross in the 2008 version was pretty much straight up villain whereas the one from this film was more like an anti-hero, a grey character, which made him all the more interesting. He actually had legitimate reasons to go after the Hulk which made the film more tragic. meaningful and memorable. The acting was superb, to the extent I think all the actors/actresses did a well above average job in this film with the possible exception of Jennifer Connelly, but her great looks make up for it. I was very impressed with the anger the actors portrayed, it seemed very real and realistic nothing like the so called anger MCU characters have in the MCU films nowadays.

The action scenes were superb such as the Hulk vs mutant dogs scene, Hulk vs the army and of course Hulk vs his Dad at the end. I liked the fact some of the camera shots were like a comic book and it also made fans connect closer to Bruce at the time, as his angry mind and eyes during those comic book scenes would've been all over the place so the comic book movie scenes really do help the viewer connect with Bruce in that regard. Eric Bana's Bruce Banner wasn't so geeky compared to Norton's and Ruffalo's Banner, and I liked that aspect. The 2003 Banner also had much more of a backstory than any of the others, and it certainly turned out to be an interesting background. The 2003 Banner is a far more complex character than the others, mainly due to his background, the 2008 one and Ruffalo version on the other hand, well we hardly hear anything of their backstories at all, at least the 2003 version has plenty of backstory information available to viewers.

Last but certainly not least I would just like to say that David Banner from this movie is my favourite Marvel villain ever Very complex villain and a lot more grey than people might initially think. It's very interesting working out some of his hidden motives in the film, I recommend fans of this film to watch the film again but watch it from David Banner's perspective, it's extremely interesting. David Banner was a very power hungry villain, that's the thing he cared about the most but his love for his wife and his Son when he was a small boy (before he tried to kill him and before he wanted to harness his Son's powers for himself) has made me sympathise for him which makes all the more interesting and tragic villain. I recommend this film to anyone who has a mind and has patience.
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Very impressive!
CGA_Soupdragon22 November 2004
I finally caught up with the film on DVD, after missing its cinema release and just not having the urge to see it until now. It has had some rather bad press, so I wasn't actually expecting very much.

One of the reasons I have waited so long was to let my son, (who is now eight) grow up a bit before seeing it. He was interested in the tie-in products filling the shelves in all the stores on release. A blanket-marketing ploy that is becoming more and more hysterical, I fear.

Another was that I was wary of renting it as the Hulk character has been rather mal-treated in live-action form.

Until Ang Lee's film.

Firstly, this isn't by any stretch of the imagination, a kids' film. Though my younger children watched it, it gave them serious food for thought about what scientists do to animals and people in the name of science. My oldest was enthralled. She appreciated Lee's magnificent use of the film medium.

This is a very dark movie. The origin-story has been manipulated and updated linking the two lead characters (Bana and Connelly) in a sorrowful, fearful event that happened to them both in their childhood. Nice touch.

"Banner's" (Eric Bana's) father (played by Nick Nolte) shuffles back into his life after 30 years incarceration for causing the events that had traumatized the young Banner. Banner later finds that his father had "experimented" on him when they were still a whole family. This creepy device effectively modernizes the story and it's ultimate revelation is a clever way of releasing the pent-up rage that Banner jr has locked within his mind. This rage feeds the Hulk. Banner finally becomes the Hulk after some incredible bravery in the lab.

The film's effects are superb. I am a very happy viewer. This is great cinema. A wonderful adaptation of a tortured, misunderstood human being.

Highly recommended, by me, for true Hulk fans.
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Interesting and different superhero adaptation
Pi7225 June 2005
Hulk is an excellent action/drama and science-fiction film based on the classic superhero (or antihero) The Incredible Hulk. Following the trend on the last years about recycling comic superheroes, Hulk's turn became a very interesting alternative to other formulas used in several of these adaptations.

Knowing that many people consider this movie as dull and boring, please let me state that it's far from being dull. After the critics towards Spiderman just scratching the surface of character development, and where other movies simply failed miserably (e.g. Daredevil), we should be grateful that we can finally see some depth in the main character as we're used in the good comics.

Ang Lee's direction shows his usual way of telling stories, in a sensitive and personal way. Instead of letting the movie drown in its limitless action possibilities, he conducted the story through a sensible path. The editing work, which remarkably resembles comic frames in many scenes, and contains some awesome transitions, is simply wonderful.

And all this not forgetting Hulk's main point: a green, angry mass of power and destruction. The movie has some of the best action scenes I've seen lately, which makes me wonder what is expecting some people who blame this movie for its lack of massive fights against entire armies. My opinion is that the action scenes of Hulk are perfectly balanced; more than showing Hulk's sheer strength but never going completely overboard. And also showing some of Hulk's main weaknesses, keeping the character real and not entering the area of fantasy.

One side of this movie that people also seems to throw tantrums about, is the refurbishing of Hulk's origins. The story of Bruce Banner's transformation has been updated with including today's technology, and making it in my humble opinion much more interesting and 'believable' than the original. Not being a huge fan of Hulk's comics, I didn't feel personally attached to the original story, so I actually liked it more. But I can understand that the purists or the die-hard fans will be disappointed by these changes.

Along with Hulk's origins, the plot includes good science-fiction elements. Don't misunderstand me; the stuff is in general barely believable. A scientist conducting advanced genetic experiments in 1965 (all by himself!) is not a good start... But in the end, it doesn't matter. This superhero adaptation is as good science-fiction as other excellent adaptations like X-Men (including its sequel X2), where others will just remain as good or bad action films with just some sci-fi scattered around. Where others lost their opportunity, Hulk didn't.

What other things are good in this movie? Well, the main actors all do a good work, specially Jennifer Conelly and Nick Nolte. The special effects are great, and while there are entire scenes made just of CGI, they're still not the strong point of the movie. The plot and dialogues aren't just bridges between computer generated action scenes, which I'm thankful for. Furthermore, the plot is also rich in references to the comic, Hulk's enemies and other subtle things. The movie is full of small details (has anyone noticed the frog over the hat in the final scene?) which reward you when watching it a second or third time.

The main down of the movie might be that followers aren't used to see Hulk in this way, a deep and sensitive character, and probably expected more action and enemy-smashing and less deep dialogues running after child traumas... Which could explain its relatively low rating and some bad critics. Maybe I just connected very well with this movie and that's why I put it so well, but I can also see that the elements of this film, taken independently, also have their merits and all together form a solid production. In my opinion, of all the comic superhero adaptations, Hulk is the most interesting and best quality one which I've watched to date. I just wish people would concentrate more on enjoying this different view of a superhero's life. But oh well, each one has different tastes.

And one final note. The soundtrack is absolutely wonderful!
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"Hulk" & the state of criticism of it
jriddle7329 June 2005
Ang Lee's "Hulk", at two years after.

Perusing the negative reviews of the film collected at the Rotten Tomatoes site, I'm stricken by the degree to which the negativity directed at it by allegedly professional film critics is based upon the fact that it dashed (rather than living up to) their rather low expectations for it. The assumptions underlying so many of the criticisms are that the film is supposed to be a brainless "summer blockbuster," but isn't. Another variation: that it's a film based upon a comic book, and that all such projects are supposed to be mindless rubbish for dazzling bumpkins (To those of us with some genuine knowledge of the field, this variant is particularly entertaining in that it's inevitably accompanied by a string of authoritative assertions regarding comics which demonstrate only the offended critics' abysmal ignorance of the medium). "Hulk," it seems, doesn't know its place; it commits the sin of aiming for something more than mediocrity. In a sense, this is a testament to the film's quality. It clearly doesn't cater to such low expectations.

Criticism of the film's CGI--a more common one at places like IMDb where there's far less pretense that a poster actually has anything of value to say--can be set aside as the superficial whining it is. In spite of what so many "summer blockbuster" fans seem to think, special effects aren't a story; they're just a means of telling one. The CGI in "Hulk" is competent. Beyond that, it doesn't matter.

Likewise the vacuous "it's boring" complaint. Modern viewers with no attention span be advised up front that you will find "Hulk" challenging, and would be better served by spending your "entertainment" budget on trash like "The Phantom Menace" and "The Day After Tomorrow," and leaving the real movies to the adults.

I don't insist that a fan of typical Hollywood summer fare actually offer some rational critique of the picture--I'm not a cruel man. I do, however, insist that, for anyone who expects to be taken seriously, "Hulk" must be accepted or rejected for what it really is. For my part, I think it's a misunderstood minor masterpiece, a film in the vein of "Blade Runner", "Excalibur," and "Once Upon A Time In The West"--all generally snubbed in their day, all now just as generally hailed as classics. I'd like to think I live in a society where this is the fate that one day awaits "Hulk"; it certainly deserves it. Time will tell, I suppose.
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Surprisingly good
bbc-22 November 2003
I had rather low expectations before seeing Hulk, since the early criticism was pretty harsh and basically the whole mojo around this movie didn't sound very good. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. As many previous reviewers pointed out, Ang Lee has created a marvelous movie/comic book amalgam, which may be too cerebral to most of the viewers, but Hulk has always been pretty complicated character anyway. If the movie had been made as a "Hulk Smash!" bruhaha it would most certainly...well, suck! This way we got excellent Sam Elliot and Jennifer Connely, and very good Nick Nolte and Eric Bana, all capped with absolutely brilliant directing by Ang Lee. If only all the other comic book movies were directed in this way...
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An Incredibly Underrated Film Got Bad Response From Critis & Fans
FilmMan471 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
its sad that such an underrated film hulk 2003 is treated as trash by critics & fan boys yes like the ones who love Daniel Craig as James bond well he sucks.

i saw the new hulk 2008 and it was not bad but not good either it was only full of action & bad story.

this one directed by Ang-lee hulk 2003 got a stronger script & storyline which many people failed to understand. one of the reasons is that i was too slow & depressing & sad . but this for me will always be the best marvel hulk film ever.

Eric Bana & Jennifer Connelly did great acting.i wish Ang-Lee should have made a sequel to this rather then 2008 dull version

don't listen to bad reviews i love this i got DVD of this & new 2008 hulk .but i enjoy this one more.

my rating is 10/10 must watch film.
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DUSTYGRIMP24 June 2003
This is a great film. I understand that there are people who will be bored by this movie in the same way that they are bored by movies like Ordinary People, Life as a House and The Cider House Rules. The Hulk is not an action movie. If you want an action movie you will be disappointed. This is a finely crafted character study in the form of a sort of Zen fable. The movie is about, on its most profound level, the danger of repressing emotion (instead of accepting them) and the danger of what happens when those bottled up emotions come out. As an example I site the scene between Bruce and Betty after the dog fight sequence. When Banner tries to describe what happened unemotionally, there is a momentary lapse during which he grabs Betty's throat; I got chills.

Ang Lee gave this movie an almost Asian feel while still keeping it accessible to American audiences who know what they are getting. He deserves the Oscar for best direction. His subtle, minimalist use of music is striking, his use of several panels in depicting certain scenes adds a stylized touch that does not detract from the film like Spike Lee's machinations do. In my opinion, there has never been a better directed film. I am sure many will disagree with me, and I understand.

Many people have mentioned that Eric Bana seemed wooden. I submit that this is true, but that it was intentional. Criticizing Bana for being unemotional and stiff as Banner is like criticizing Russell Crowe for showing no range as Maximus in Gladiator. Crowe and Bana played their characters as they were written; in Bana's case that meant stiff, stodgy and wooden.

As far as the CGI is concerned, if the CGI in The Hulk was not good enough, the tool should be retired until it is improved. It may not be perfect, but it is the best we've seen.

The performances of the other actors in this film are also quite good. Jennifer Connelly is more than adequate for her role. Nick Nolte plays David Banner as a crazed, obsessed scientist who will stop at nothing to gain power, even at his son's expense. Sam Elliot was born to play roles like Thunderbolt Ross, although the trim job on his moustache was abysmal. Josh Lucas played a spectacular Talbot with a performance that blended seamlessly into the woodwork of the picture.

It will not happen as the filmmakers marketed this picture badly and it has polarized its audience, but I would like to see The Hulk garner some Oscar recognition. In my opinion, Spider-Man was more fun, but the Hulk is the best overall comic adaptation yet.
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Pretty good actually
matt_bro1412 October 2003
I went into this fearing the worst and I was rather quite surprised. I thought all the so called 'boring' parts were needed both for characterisation and plot development. The way all this is shot keeps it from slowing down to much and before you know it the Hulk is out. Very impressive visually, only spoiled by a lousy ending.

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almost got me teary, and frustrated me at the same time
MorganStable22 June 2003
It's late, so I'll just bullet point my thoughts.

1. Hulk as CGI - works most of the time, some of the time it doesn't. Nobody can argue with that. But, like Gollum, the expressions of the face and the fantastic body language made you WANT to believe. Unlike Gollum, some of the shots just don't work at all. The big CG breakthrough for this movie - the manipulation of real settings was just SPECTACULAR. I fully belived that San Fran was getting torn apart.

2. Too long. Cut a half hour.

3. The comic book style - hit and miss.

4. Most of my friends hated the movie, yet.....

5. ..... I found many of the scenes to be incredibly moving, which took me by surprise. Though I secretly hoped that the Hulk would just be ICE Storm with Hulk in the Joan Allen role, I have to admit that Lee pulled off one helluva feat. I sympathized more for the hulk than the entire MATRIX cast (of both movies) combined. And I'll take a faulted movie with emotion over almost any big budget vehicle any day.

The L Man
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Some pretty good stuff.
filmtycoon21 June 2003
I saw Hulk on Friday and I loved the opening sequence, it was great; graphic, and the comic fonts, fantastic. But then it started to go downhill from there. For about half an hour I was seriously thinking "My goodness, Lee's really lost it." Then as soon as the Eric Bana and Nick Nolte's relationship started to pick up, I thought; "Exactly what I was looking for."

The action of course was unbelievably fantastic. I found myself sitting there for a few moments drewling at the special effects. Even though at some points the Hulk did look slighlty cartoonish; what can you do, when you have to apply an emotive face and expressions along with a giant green muscle man?

The final interaction between Bana and Nolte was brilliant. It was so much like a tragedy; it looked so much like a tragedy infested play, and that was perhaps one of the great factors which drew me into the movie.

Overall, I believe that what grabbed me was how different this film was to others. The comic like split screens, the freeze frames; all of this was brilliant. What makes this film good, is just how different it is to others, as well as other comic book films. I give this film 9 thumbs up. No just joking.

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A Film Bound By Its Own Genre...
odor00725 June 2003
Ang Lee's "The Hulk" is a film that's so good, so well acted, so well written, and so engaging that I found myself constantly wishing that it wasn't centered on a silly green superhero. "The Hulk" is a film that puts all the recent comic adaptations to shame ("Spider-Man" and "Daredevil"), and is definitely the best superhero movie since Tim Burton's "Batman."

So why has this film been receiving such poor press? Why are so many people on this site bashing everything from the script to the CGI? It's simple really: American anti-intellectualism. Those that liked "Spider-Man" enjoyed it for the exact reasons intelligent people hated it--it was hollow, predictable, had no real suspense or character development, was flat and tawdry, and the action seemed crammed in just to keep the ignorant from being bored. Some claim that it was this fluff, this lack-of-seriousness, that made the movie "great": it treated the material as a comic book movie should be treated. In a way, I agree with this way of thinking, but only with a comic character like "Spider-Man" would this work: he's a superhero that, unlike the Hulk, has no dimension. He's a silly and flat character, and in a way, that should translate into a silly and flat movie (which it did). This is not to say that "Spider-Man" couldn't be better, because I feel it could have in a million ways. Hulk, on the other hand, isn't a good guy that fights crime day and night--he's far more complex and interesting. He's probably more bad than good, because his uncontrollable rages result in unprecedented destruction. Instead of simply catering to morons by having the movie be non-stop smashing, Ang Lee and his screenwriter James Schamus decided to research the character and create a film more about his struggle than his tumultuous panics. This care for the character Bruce Banner, his background, and his life shine through every frame, and this creates a sensation that's very rare in comic flicks.

Yet even Ang Lee, art-house master, knows that a summer comic blockbuster wouldn't be complete without some serious action, and the final action sequences are the most stunning and visually imaginative since Ang Lee's own "Crouching Tiger." In one scene, the Hulk, who can jump miles, jumps from a rocky canyon region to a silent desert while loads of planes and helicopters pursue him, trying to blow him to green sludge. For a moment, as he lands in this serene desert, he has lost his enemies, and he softly tumbles down a sandy hill. In the background we can hear the oncoming bombing assault. It's scenes like this that made "The Hulk" so enjoyable, fresh, and ingenious. Ang Lee only gives us action after he has invested our care into his characters, and it means so much more then the boring action scenes performed in "Spider-Man."

As far as the acting goes, it's top-notch for sure. Some claim that while Eric Bana under-acts, both Nick Nolte and Sam Elliott overact. Personally, I think this goes against the theory that comic films should be fun--overacting is what it's all about. Nick Nolte was so effectively creepy and bizarre that for me he carried the movie. Jennifer Connelly was beautiful and touching, and when the film was over she had made more of a mark than other actresses in recent action films that sit and weep on the sidelines. Sam Elliott was purely captivating, and for the first time in years captured the difficult decisions and emotions that are inherent in the military field within a very miniscule timeframe. And finally, Eric Bana, as Bruce Banner: I felt his performance was just what it should have been. He didn't try to steal the show from his green counterpart, and he stayed true to the original Marvel Bruce Banner: calm, reserved and shy (which obviously creates a parallel to Hulk). Schamus's script investigated more emotion and motivation behind the Hulk than any superhero film I think I've ever seen: and it's this serious tone that makes the movie so above and beyond the rest. This doesn't ruin the film at all (as some say), but just makes the movie that much more fascinating.

As far as the graphics go, I felt that they were FAR better than that of "Spider-Man" (where I was distracted by how bad the effects were). You can see just how difficult it must have been to create the hulk character, and the way he doesn't just appear but also interacts with his environment is great. Yes, there were times during action scenes were he seemed to be made of silly putty, but they never got as flawed as in "Spider-Man."

And finally, Ang Lee's hold on the film is crucial: the way he films it mimes a comic the entire time: wide angles and vibrant frames, and the editing swipes/fades/dissolves/ and split screens really recreate this sensation of turning the pages of a comic (I'm sure the creators of both of the last comic films wish they had thought of this). Great stuff.

In the end the movie had a great blend of seriousness and hokeyness, and made a far greater impression than any of the competition. Although it wasn't a great movie, it was a great action movie. I do feel that it was a film that was so good it felt limited by it's own source material, but that's complimentary.
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A Stylistic, Dark Story
TheHande22 July 2006
The Hulk isn't really a super-hero movie, since the Hulk can't really be classified as either a super-hero or -villain. He's just super-human. As such I feel the reason some people didn't like this film came from the reason that Hulk didn't duke it out with another spandex-wearing hero from Marvel, like Captain America. But that's just it, Hulk is not a super-hero, his story has less to do with epic battles than it does with an idea. The Hulk is an allegory for uncontrolled rage.

This is why I love the film. It's very human, very real in spite of its fantasy origins. The Hulk is something magnificent, yet at the same time something very human and tragic. The film has a weird Zen feel to it which may be due to director Ang Lee. Also the narrative, with its comic-book like cuts does manage to capture the feel of a comic-book quite well.

Though the performances at the very beginning of the film were not as impressive as those later in the film, everything in the film is luckily so grounded that it didn't bother me that much. What it manages to do is capture the essence of what The Hulk is about. This is why I like it very much the same way I liked X-Men and why I disliked Spider-Man.

This is easily the most mature and perhaps the best comic-book movie ever made.
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This is a great Super Hero Action Flick.
vegged24 June 2003
I really enjoyed this film. I was pleasantly surprised at the CGI of the Hulk. In the teasers it looked kinda cheesy, but in the actual movie it looked good. I thought the story and the performances were quite good. Nick Nolte, as Bruce Banner's mad scientist father, was outstanding, as usual. Jennifer Connelly showed why she's an Oscar winner. And Sam Elliot did a fine job playing the Army Four Star General bent on finding and destroying the Incredible Hulk. Eric Bana, in the title role, may not have been my first choice, but he was very good also.

I don't know why some people are slamming this movie. There was plenty of action, great special efx, a good story and good performances. What more could one want? I suppose there are those that don't want to allow any screen time for character or plot development. Just wham, bam! Give me the Hulk! We want two frickin' hours of just the Hulk smashing things. Huh, huhhh, huhhhhh, that'd be cool. Well, no thanks, Beavis.

I think Ang Lee did an outstanding job with the style and look of this film and showed why he's such a great film-maker. Hey look people, it's sci-fi fantasy derived from a comic book, for christ's sake. Have fun with it and enjoy. It's second only to Spider-Man (in this genre). And I only say that because I was always a bigger Spider-Man fan as a kid.

I give it two thumbs way up. Ten stars out of ten. Whatever. Have an attention span and go enjoy the film.
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Best comic adaptation ever made
giannischicchi22 August 2005
Hulk is not only a superhero movie but also an Ang Lee's movie. That's the most important difference between this movie and other superhero movies.

The plot may appear not too brilliant, but the direction is great and original with an interesting use of split screen and digital technologies. But is the focus on the subjectivity of Banner/Hulk, and his fight with the father's figure, that made the movie so special.

Ang Lee's Hulk is a true author film as Peter David's Hulk was a true author comic. The peculiar style imposed by the author makes Hulk a great comic adaptation, possibly the best along with Spiderman 2.
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Enjoyed the movie very much
peter-akontistis1 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
That movie got suck into my head for days after watching.

Especially the scene with Hulk literally "swimming through the road" was shocking and amazing.

I enjoyed the pace of the movie, the gradual built up and the explosive turn of events during the later part

I really empathized with Hulk. He was all alone, chased, hated and feared but was still standing.

For me, when a movie makes you feel worried and really care about a character then it's succeeded.

It's sad that the rating is so low (currently 5.5) but who knows, maybe it will be appreciated more in the years to come (just like what happened to Shawshank redemption rating )
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Set me free
ghayoor_bates22 June 2015
This was a very good stand alone Hulk movie. I grew up watching The Incredible Hulk 70s series and I will always get a reminder from that when watching a Hulk movie.

Eric Bana played a good Bruce Banner along with the supporting cast. The score was very Hitchcock and scientific.

I wasn't too keen on the comic book styled cinematography but I got used to this through the film.

I enjoyed this film due to it's acting, story and developments. I didn't like the action as much, I liked the locations.

I couldn't see this movie getting a sequel as this was aimed for a new audience and was a first theatrical try-out for a Hulk movie. I would recommend this movie to those that are fans of the series and to Hulk in general.
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What went wrong?
Flagrant-Baronessa16 July 2006
Ang Lee attempted a different approach in his direction in Hulk. The recipe for superhero comic book movie was not followed and for that, it failed in entertaining the mainstream audience. It is more off-beat, more difficult. The music score by Danny Elfman is much heavier than on the average Spider-Man film. The character is not a hero--nor is he a villain. It is a dark story of a pretty dark character. I believe that this is its essentially biggest problem: it is humourless to the core and when featuring a dark character like the Hulk, you need some serious light-hearted comic relief to counter it.

I barely even recalled the plot after having watched Hulk, but I remember that it was paper-thin. It's mostly Eric Bana as Bruce Banner coming to terms with his new green identity and the conflicts that this curse this brings. While Bana acts with more conviction and skill than any of the superhero actors (Tobey Maguire, Brandon Routh, even Christian Bale), he is only ever used for acting that varies between the extremes sad or confused in the film. It is not fair that this fantastically talented man is overshadowed by the alter ego of his character.

The action scenes are also sub-par and rare. When they are attempted, Lee makes them too overblown to emphasize the sheer strength of the Hulk--and we have a green CGI monster in purple pants spiraling up in the sky--a Shrek on steroids. This may sound like the comic relief that was needed, but it isn't funny -- it's mostly bizarre. Some well-placed and traditional action scenes could and should have been included, in my opinion. It's not "selling out" so much as it's balancing the dark Hulk with light entertainment. If you make everything dark, then the character is not going to look dark or stand out.

Still, I prefer Hulk to either of the Spider-Man films any day, probably because it has an interesting approach to it. Just..sometimes a little too difficult. 6/10
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Extremely Visual
tedg3 July 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

I haven't had this much visual fun in a long time, not perhaps since "Moulin Rouge" and as with that experience I immediately felt that the world of film -- Hollywood film I mean -- would be transformed forever. That's because this is the very first comicbook film to actually create visual energy, to rely on visual storytelling. There have been some pretty intelligent attempts: Altman with "Popeye" (1980), Beatty with "Dick Tracy" (1990), Burton with "Batman" (1989, 92), Raimi with "Darkman" (1990). All interesting failures in different ways

Since then, all experiments have been prohibited by meek studio executives, and we've gotten one superhero flashbang after the other, all in the same mold: simple camera philosophy, a story that is there to give excuse for the effects-enhanced petty drama. Projects that are loud and ordinary.

The low point for me was "Spider-man," which could have been an amazing cinematic experience because of the swooping and architectural dimensionality. But it was as by- the-numbers as an MGM musical.

Meanwhile, studio accountants realized that most income from these does not come the opening weekend event, but through long term views, serialization and marketing. But how to differentiate among the many contenders? Pixar led the way, I think. Though their projects have high values in the ordinary ways, they pay particular attention to advancing the MANNER of visual storytelling. They work with and extend the visual grammar. "Shrek" will fade into the background (already has if you track these numbers) and "Monsters" will sustain.

Then we saw more and more attempts to weave the cinematic style into the story: check out how "Mothman"s camera was mothlike. See how despite Ben Afflick, "Daredevil" took some visual, experimental chances with the notion of seeing. See how the second Harry Potter spent some energy improving the architectural awareness of the camera. Big films like this don't do art for for art's sake, but when art makes money, they pay attention.

That's why I think Ang Lee was able to get this funded. Previously, he took a similarly visually moribund genre and added some visual originality and a dancing camera. He made money with his leaping tiger and crouching eye.

That's why he was able to get back to basics and rethink the medium. Watch how he conveys almost every detail visually. Watch how every episode is a collage. Watch how he works with simultaneity of image, of layered images to correspond to his layered characters and character traits. Watch how he sculpts color. Watch how he moves the camera with as much choreography as the characters. Watch as we bound as the Hunk does. And notice that we are watching instead of listening: absorbing visually rather than working things out mentally.

The coolest piece of IMDB trivia is that Ang was himself the Hulk, literally providing all the motions of the character as well as of us the viewer.

Along the way we get Jen Connelly in precisely the same position she had in "Mind" and "Labyrinth" -- an attractive character that does know the big picture we as viewers know played by an actress that doesn't know how to act globally within the big picture. She doesn't bother me much. All actors of similarly limited range rely on a single body part. With her it is her upper teeth. Now I've ruined he for you because you will notice how every motion is motivated by that region.

Not so with Nick, who is in demand because he combines an ability to broadcast his presence over every element of a scene including the visual conversation with us, a good work ethic and the willingness to risk his soul in a part. This and "Good Thief" are enough by themselves to justify a life as actor.

Finally, I need to mention Danny Elfman. Usually, his honks and squeaks either get in the way or seem to be straining at creating energy in the vision. "Planet of the Apes" was his low point, I think. Here, his notion of phrase is perfectly meshed to Ang's cadence. His notion of quirk is absolutely congruent to the close seriousness of the images in the small contrasted to the outrageous fantasy of the images in the large.

This almost made my list of required viewing for cineliteracy, and may yet depending on what else appears this year.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 4: Worth watching
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