5.0 out of 5 stars
Majestic modern drama with 30s Universal horror sensibility, Nov. 3 2003
"HULK" by filmmaker Ang Lee isn't a film for everyone. It's not for the kiddies, it certainly isn't for comic purists, and people looking for dumb blockbuster-style fun will be sorely disappointed. However, Lee has re-envisioned the comic book opera by treating it with as much seriousness as it deserves (it's a *drama*, folks!) and come out with something new and refreshing, not to mention reflective of a better time for moviegoing--specifically, he's recalled the genre of the 1930s-40s Universal horror film, i.e. "The Wolf Man" and "Frankenstein" certainly, though updated it to the 21st century--pretty much only in its vastly superior special effects and budget.
Bruce Banner, introverted scientist, has spent his life subconsciously working toward the answers to questions that have plagued him since childhood--"Who am I, why am I here?" and the answers--in the form of an egomaniacal father and a misunderstood manifestation of Banner's brutish id--frighten him, justifiably so. Monsters abound in the script (in different ways--David Banner, Bruce, Talbot, Ross), and nobody's totally innocent or entirely 'good' or 'evil' as such, they're three-dimensional iterations that really make you think.
When the Hulk displays his vast powers for the camera, he's every bit the creature from the comics, leaping vast distances through panoramic desert vistas, exploding through labyrinthine corridors of a government base, smashing and destroying a lab by virtue of his size just as well as his fists--it's all terrific eye-candy. The film dares you to understand his all-too-human conflicted nature--the Hulk, flawed much like us, cannot forget the past his father inflicted upon him, just like the nanomeds that combined with the gamma radiation and Banner's own biology to create him, will not, as their often fatal flaw, forget. As referred to in a terrifically illuminating deleted scene, they remember all too well.
"HULK" is a first-rate, instant classic from director Ang Lee and a studio I did not believe had the potential to make a film so terrific ever again. Watch it and enjoy the human drama at its core; give it a chance. Time will tell whether Lee's auteurship really impacted this film positively or negatively, but I've already got my mind made up that it sits at the forefront of not only the comicbook genre, but also 21st-century filmmaking as a whole.