Movie Review: <i>The Hulk</i>

The Hulk was always a strange comic book. It got lumped in with the other superhero comics, but it was never quite like the others. Sure, the Hulk was often found beating the crap out of some supervillian-of-the-month, but, unlike the Fantastic Four or the Avengers, he didn't do it out of a sense of moral duty. He didn't do it out of a more personal sense of guilt and responsibility, like Spiderman or Daredevil. No, said supervillian was getting the snot kicked out of him because he made the Hulk angry. And sometimes the Army or another Marvel superhero would make the Hulk angry, and he would go after them too. So, less of a superhero, and more of a metaphor for pure, unfettered rage. And then there's the complicated relationship between the main character and himself. Bruce Banner simultaneously hates, needs and loves the Hulk. He wanders around, trying to destroy the Hulk, doomed to fail, because it is, after all, himself. A strange kind of superhero comic.

And a strange kind of blockbuster movie. The Hulk, after doing blockbuster business its first weekend, saw its box office fall 70% in its second weekend of release. A lot of people didn't like the movie. I loved it.
The first thing that stands out about the movie is its unique visual style. Director Ang Lee uses a lot of different tricks to pay homage to comic book-style storytelling: split screens, partial screens, quick fades and dissolves, weird cuts, and lots of other things I don't know the names for. For the most part, it works very well (I found it distracting in one or two places.)

The film takes the twisted psychology of the comic a step further by revising the Hulk's origin to include Bruce Banner's father, who performed unauthorized genetic experiments on himself, the fruits of which were passed down to Bruce. The story starts with him and his wife and four-year old Bruce, with Something Terrible about to happen. Then it skips ahead 30 years, to a Bruce who's been raised by foster parents, with no memories of his real parents, who's nonetheless working as a scientist in the same field as his father. Working in the same lab is his ex-girlfriend Betty Ross, who has a very rocky relationship with her own father, an Army general. The first hour of the film explores the relationship between these two, and their relationships with their fathers, as events cause the hidden connections between their two families to reveal themselves.

This leads up to the first appearance of the title character, and his pure destructive fury is quite a jolt after the mannered drama earlier. The CGI in the Hulk scenes is pretty good, working better in context than in the trailer. The transformations back and forth were particularly well done. The action scenes in general are excellent, showing off the Hulk's savagery and single-mindedness. Unfortunately, the plot falls apart in the second half, as the film doesn't really know what to do with the Hulk once he's out, but good action scenes and good acting keep it going until it reaches an acceptable conclusion.

I recommend this movie to anyone interested in a genre movie that's not afraid to be artsy. It's darker in tone and slower-paced than most other superhero movies, but it's still very good.

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I enjoyed the movie as well

I enjoyed the movie as well except for the last 30 minutes which is pretty dumb. Apparently the makers of the movie got a ton of negative feedback about the special effects after the Superbowl commercial and were working feverishly to improve it. I think they succeeded, although I didn't like how the Hulk could basically fly.

Well, if you read the comic

Well, if you read the comic books, Hulk could basicly fly. He would do these huge multi-mile jumps, and he could control his movements in the air.

In the last 30 minutes, I

In the last 30 minutes, I liked the showdown between Banner and his dad while they were human. That was cool. Although I don't know why General Ross didn't stop Banner's dad once he saw what he was talking about. I mean, he was supposed to be saying goodbye to his son, right? And then they both transformed and I gave up on trying to follow it and just enjoyed the SFX...