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AndytheSaint - The Patron Saint of Bloggers
Movie Review: Hulk (2003) [re-posted review] 
13th-Jun-2008 07:38 pm
Kool Aide
I think we're supposed to pretend this movie no longer exists or something.

Hulk (2003)

Starring: Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Josh Lucas, Nick Nolte

Directed By: Ang Lee

I think this movie has gotten an unfair rap. I actually don't know why so many people think it's no good. I find it surprisingly good, better than I expected it to be. I've barely read any Hulk comic books, so I wasn't all that excited about the character. Since I'm not that versed in Hulk-lore, I can't really say how accurate the movie is to the spirit of the book, so if it is an insult to Hulk comic fans, then I can respect that as a reason for not liking it. I do know that they tweaked the origin, but that was a necessity-- the original origin was okay for back in the day, but still really stupid. Others complained that they messed with the Absorbing Man's origin, or Zzax's origin, but they didn't. The big bad is neither villain. Rather, his abilities are an homage to those classic Hulk villains, and he's a unique villain made for the movie.

The other oft-cited complaint for the movie is that the CGI is bad. Maybe I'm just really unobservant, but I thought it was really good. Especially in the desert scenes. I think the main reason why people don't like it is that they didn't appreciate what Ang Lee was trying to do. Hulk is a more cerebral super hero movie, one that takes its time early in the movie to earn the excitement later on. I think a lot of people wanted a mindless "Hulk smash" popcorn movie, and were turned off by the fact that the Hulk doesn't show up in full until 42 minutes in. It was promoted as a big time summer flick, and had a lot of merchandising tie-ins that didn't fit at all with the tone of the movie, so people can be excused for incorrect assumptions. If you weren't actually interested in the movie, and just wanted some fun, then I don't doubt that the movie would be pretty boring for you.

I was going to see the movie anyway, since the previous Marvel offerings all provided me with entertainment (and all did until The Punisher, which led me to skip Elektra altogether), but the tone of the film with its psychological focus actually drew me in. It managed to make the Hulk interesting to me. Plus, I thought the split screen camera effects are really interesting and added some fun to what would otherwise boring establishing shots. Also, Jennifer Connelly is way hot in it.

Not that the film is without its flaws. Some of the dialogue, especially early on when getting through the origin, is pretty ham-handed. Although, since it was the origin, and they mixed in the split screens, the cheesy dialogue felt like it was out of a golden age comic, so it was somewhat forgivable. The biggest problem I have with the movie is the climactic battle. It's too dark (literally, the lighting not the mood) to properly follow what the hell is going on. In fact, I'm still not entirely sure that I understand what happened.

But, I still think it is one of the better comics to film adaptations, which succeeded in making a character interesting to me that previously never was. This is a case of a filmmaker failing to give his audience what they wanted, but not a case of a filmmaker failing to deliver a strong movie. In fact, I think Lee's mistake was giving them a better, more interesting film than what they deserved.

14th-Jun-2008 01:53 am (UTC)
I decided to repost this review, as I didn't originally post it here on my blog (instead posting it to topfive_reviews exclusively). I'm hoping to catch the new Incredible Hulk in the coming days, so I thought it would be good to get my original thoughts out there for when I write that review.

I considered re-reviewing this, but decided that much of my opinion remained the same as it was in 2005, so I simply cleaned the review up a bit, deleting some unnecessary filler and writing a better conclusion. I think I may do this again in the future with other previously written reviews that suddenly become topical, particularly if they aren't currently housed in this blog (and thus not a part of my new-ish tagging system).
16th-Jun-2008 09:02 pm (UTC)
I agree on all marks, this film has gotten a bad rap. I think you're particularly right on the lighting issue. The hulk animal attack scene would have benefited from being done in daylight and the closing action was something I didn't understand until I watched it a second time and knowing what actually happened doesn't mean it makes sense.

Though I do see some people's points about the CGI, and I got the distinct impression the badly lit action scenes was done to obscure the worse parts of the CGI. Like a hulken poodle. Especially as "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" clearly shows that Ang Lee knows how to direct action and isn't one of those directors who film action scenes a foot from the actors' faces.
17th-Jun-2008 05:57 pm (UTC)
The CGI-heavy scenes were done at night on purpose, as night-matting is the easiest way to patch up rough spots. This is why most CGI-heavy scenes are dark, because it's easier on the animators.

Oddly, the most thrilling parts of this movie are with the Hulk in full daylight in the dessert and San Francisco, and part of what made the earlier Spider-Man movies so exciting were that big scenes were in daylight, with the full colour Spider-Man, Green Goblin, and Doc Ock interacting with the rest of the city (interestingly, every scene of Spider-Man 3 I can think of takes place in the dark... and that movie isn't as good).
18th-Jun-2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
I figured as much. In the case of Spider-man 3, it was a bad movie. I don't think watching its pointless and gutless action in full daylight would have really done much to change the equation.

Oh, the Construction Crane- save Gwen Stacey scene was in daylight.
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