Film reviews

The Hulk, Dir: Ang Lee - Cert: 12A

The comic strip favourite brought to life in the story of when a geneticist's experimental accident curses him with the tendency to become a powerful giant green brute under emotional stress and bears the tagline 'The inner beast will be released'.

Before the main feature, why not catch the trailers;

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Some readers may recall the television series The Incredible Hulk from the late 70’s which saw scientist David Banner (Bill Bixby), on the run whilst searching for a cure to a freak accident which causes a transformation into a large green monster (Lou Ferringo) when under great emotional stress.

Well apparently in the 21st century there’s apparently nothing “Incredible” about The Hulk if you go by the title, however there’s the rub. For a big screen adaptation of a Marvel comic this is some very good entertainment, combining a great cast with a decent screenplay and superb visual imagery throughout, reminiscent of those Steve McQueen classics Bullitt and The Thomas Crown Affair.

The opening titles comprising of snippets of a scientists notes along with glimpses of his experiments, a combination of slick photography blended into a comic book style of framing, leads into the setting of the story before a leap 30 years into the future and present day San Francisco.

Bruce Banner (Eric Bana – Chopper, Blackhawk Down) is a research scientist, assisted by his very recently ex-girlfriend Betty Ross (double Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly), who in an effort to save a colleague, suffers exposure to both gamma radiation and biological agents. This little mishap which should leave him dead, in fact leave him feeling “better than fine.” albeit with a few after effects including blackouts and the surfacing of repressed childhood memories. To some actors this may have provided problems of credibility however Bana gives a very creditable performance, without slipping into over indulgence of dramatics. He has the perfect foil in Connelly who imbues her character, also with repressed childhood issues of her own, with a believable level of concern and distress at what is befalling her former partner.

The re-appearance of his father (Nick Nolte), along with the military interest in his work, generates the stress which leads to the first appearance of Mr. Green (baring a striking resemblance to Meat Loaf), a lab trashing effects fest and a demonstration of the amazing durability of American clothing materials! Following the labs destruction our hero is confined to his home by the military, in the guise of Betty’s estranged father General Ross (Sam Elliott – We Were Soldiers Once) and obnoxious former aide Glenn Talbot (Josh Lucas).

During the ensuing sub-plots and adventures, centred around Talbot’s attempts to make his name from Banners research and Banners attempts to avoid him and save Betty from various accidents, the story cracks along at an above average rate. Some periods between “Green Giant Mayhem” may prove too long for younger viewers to endure, however the story should keep the older viewer happily entertained up to the set piece finale with some nice touches of humour, along with a very “Romeo and Juliet” like sub theme.

I had feared, from viewing the trailers, that the scenes featuring Hulk would scream “Special Effects” on the large screen but I was pleasantly surprised at the degree of reality the 15ft green man had. Only a couple of his daylight exploits looked computerised, and they were insufficient to detract from the overall quality.

A couple of questions remained unanswered by the end of the film. Mainly “What does it take to make people realise shooting at an angry green man is not a good idea” – it only makes him more annoyed and therefore bigger. But perhaps more importantly – where can I get a pair of those super tough, abrasion/bullet/water proof jeans? I’m sure Old Navy didn’t have them in when I last looked!

Perhaps a little long for the younger viewers at just over two and a quarter hours, certainly explosive at times, thoughtful at others and very stylish visually throughout, I for one was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed it. 8/10

As they say there are 'two sides to every story' - so click here for an opposing view.


K Soze


Odeon Online

 

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