The Hulk



USA 2003 : Ang LEE : 138 mins

[Bruce Banner-size review]

The Hulk‘s US box-office failure is a shame, not least because Hollywood studios will now have even more excuse to play safe on future big projects. To be fair, the film is no masterpiece: it falls short of both The Fly and Spider-Man, just two of the countless movie forerunners to which it respectfully nods, including Frankenstein, Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde and King Kong. And while Lee’s best Hollywood picture The Ice Storm gains depth with each viewing, it’s hard to imagine sitting through The Hulk for even a second time.

But even if the overall package tries too hard to please all audiences from 5 to 75, there are some amazing things here – not least the Hulk himself, a 15-foot-tall CGI behemoth whose rampaging exploits give the film its energy. But this is much more than just kick-ass eye candy: the script (by James Shamus, Michael France and John Turman) is anything but afraid to tackle Serious Issues: depending on your point of view, their Hulk is either psychologically ambitious and audaciously cerebral, or wildly, incongruously pretentious.

While its serious themes of family dysfunction are constantly undermined by frequent lapses into absurdity (the laughable nadir comes when the Hulk’s love interest is chased by a “mutant French poodle”), and though Lee’s comic-book-style directorial flourishes feel like gimmicky affectations, The Hulk does eventually click into gear for a second hour that successfully blends action, drama and characterisation towards a satisfyingly spectacular finale.

14th July, 2003
(seen same day : Warner Village, Newcastle-upon-Tyne)

click here for the full HULK SIZE review

by Neil Young