Hulk (2003)

hulk 2003-movie-poster-review-ang-lee
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 6/10

One of the strangest comic book adaptations ever

Never finds the balance, gets too artsy for its own good

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Hulk 

Studio:  Marvel Enterprises

Genre(s):  Comic Book/Drama/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  June 20, 2003

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


Ooh, this is gonna hurt

Bruce Krensler (Eric Bana) is a scientist on the verge of a major breakthrough involving gamma radiation.  When a lab mishap occurs, Bruce is bombarded by gamma radiation which unlocks something deep within his genes.  Bruce learns that the past can come back to haunt you as he learns that his real name is Bruce Banner and his father David (Nick Nolte) has secretly been working at the lab as a janitor.  His girlfriend Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly) has brought in her father Thunderbolt (Sam Elliott) to stop the Hulk that has been unleashed but Glenn Talbot (Josh Lucas) wants more from Bruce.  Now, the Hulk is loose, but the Hulk could be the only chance to save the world when David Banner’s real plans for his son are revealed.


Boy, these clams aren’t sitting well with me…

Directed by Ang Lee, Hulk was a big screen adaptation of the comic book character created in 1962 and previously brought to the small screen beginning in 1978.  The movie polarized critics and fans and did not fare as well at the box-office as hoped mostly due to the massive budget.

Hulk is possibly one of the strangest big screen mainstream comic adaptations I’ve seen.  I loved the original TV series as a kid and always had a soft spot for the character.  I love Ang Lee, but for art house films like The Ice Storm…here the two loves combined in a movie that is a bit of mess but at times is compelling.


Remember the exciting comic where Hulk fought dogs? Neither do I

Hulk tries too hard and finally finds a bit of a balance too late into the long movie.  Instead of just being about a guy who is caught in an experiment, Lee turned it into a story about the sins of the father with Bruce always having the potential for this power within him.  With this decision, the movie becomes more of a psychological drama for the first hour or so…this is dull but fine but Lee’s choice to go goofy with Hulk-dogs brings the drama to a halt and just makes it laughable.  I do not want a laughable Hulk.  I want the powerful and dangerous Hulk that cannot control himself…and with a big budget I want a cool big supervillain.


“Hulk sorry he destroyed San Francisco”

The actual action sequences of this film are quite good.  With a computer animated Hulk, we finally do get to the see the Hulk in all his glory and power.  Beginning with the desert sequence, the movie shows a true comic book form Hulk…and it is quite cool.  If the movie was more like the twenty-five minute rampage that ends in San Francisco, the movie would be good…unfortunately, the ending also with his father as the Absorbing Man/Zzzax is also quite weak and makes little sense.

Edward Norton was originally approached to be the Hulk and became the Hulk in the remake of this film.  Bana does a fine job as the more psychologically driven Hulk, and Jennifer Connelly is perfect as Betty Banner who can hold her own.  Sam Elliott was a good fit for Thunderbolt Ross since he already sports the mustache.  Nick Nolte plays the crazed over-acting David Banner and his look led to his awesome famous mugshot since he was sporting his Hulk hair.


Let’s put a guy who can’t stand stress in a room with his psychopathic father…what could go wrong?

The movie attempted to be a living comic book but the style was too distracting for me.  The panels would pop up on occasion and ruin the flow of the movie…it was like a kid who just got new editing software.  The Hulk on the other hand was often rather impressive.  The animators created three different sized hulk and paid homage to different versions of the Hulk as a result…sometimes he was a bit too cartoony, but he still had a very real feel.

Hulk was a weird misfire which is worth seeking out due to its oddity.  The picture came out before the big Marvel Avengers boom and became one of the fastest turnaround remakes when The Incredible Hulk was released only five years later in 2008.  Bana did not return as the Hulk and was replaced by Edward Norton.

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Related Links:

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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