Spoiler Filled Review of The Hulk

Thursday, June 19 2003

This review is based on both the Hulk press screening that I attended on June 1st at the Alfred Hitchcock Theatre at Universal Studios Hollywood and the world premiere screening at the Universal Amphitheater at Universal Studios Hollywood on June 17th.. This review of The Hulk Contains Major Spoilers. You have been warned. For a Hulk review with very minor spoilers, click here.



I thought that this film was excellent when I saw it at the press screening earlier this month. Having seen it once again my original evaluation (4/5 stars, 8/10 stars, and 2 thumbs up) stands. If anything, I liked it even more the second time around.

Right from the get go, the film really grabs you. The familiar Marvel logo appears, but instead of being the traditional red, it was green. A very minor, but much appreciated touch.

The opening title sequence is phenomenal. On many films, the title sequence is wasted space with nothing more going on except for maybe a few aesthetically pleasing fonts and flashy graphics. But this beginning is oh so different. It establishes who David Banner is and how he ends up damning Bruce. It sets Banner up as a determined, perhaps mad, scientist, but he does not once come across as evil. In fact, his notes reveal that Banner is horrified at what he has inadvertently done to Bruce and how he wants to cure him.

This is a very different father than the one presented in the Hulk comic book. But with the exception of the name change from Brian to David, it did not bother me at all.

In the comics, Brian Banner is an abusive alcoholic who always fears that Bruce is some sort mutant monster due to his own work with radiation. However, Bruce was just a normal kid and not some sort of mutant as his father had feared. Nevertheless, his father was responsible for creating the Hulk, although it was through years of both physical and mental abuse and not through a hereditary genetic mutation.

This change works in the film, and the base concept remains the same. In both instances, Bruce is a victim of his father’s actions, and powerless to prevent what he will eventually become.

Comic fans should rejoice at the site of the beloved Gamma Base (in the film it is called Desert Base) and G-Bomb mushroom cloud, although in the film this mushroom cloud was the result of David Banner blowing up Desert Base and not the detonation of a Gamma Bomb. Sharp eyed viewers will notice, however, that the moment of the explosion is the exact moment of Edith Banner’s (should have been Rebecca) death, and thus the true birth of the Hulk.

After this flashback sequence, we next see Bruce Krenzler ready to go off to college. What? Krenzler, not Banner? After his mother was murdered and Desert Base destroyed, General Ross sent Bruce away and he was later placed with an adopted family. In the comics, Bruce was sent off to live with his Aunt and Uncle after his father murdered his mother. Once again, it’s a slight variation on the same idea.

After a great cameo by Stan Lee and Lou Ferrigno, the viewer is next introduced to Bruce’s assistant, Harper. Essentially, this is the guy responsible for the gamma experiment going awry. It would have been nice if this guy was called Jones or even just Rick, but just like the other name changes, those are minor squabbles.

There was one thing that I did not like about the updated origin though. In the film, Bruce bear hugs the gamma sphere and essentially saves Harper’s life by absorbing all of the radiation himself. But Harper was sealed in the room with Bruce, so bear hugging the gamma sphere wouldn’t do a thing. Radiation is not like a piece of shrapnel that can be blocked; it’s part of the electromagnetic spectrum and goes right through objects like human tissue. Without the altered DNA or the help of the nanomeds, Harper should have died from the exposure of gamma radiation. Bruce should have been sealed in with the gamma sphere alone.

I was not too fond of the poodle running around Bruce’s lab either I have two dogs myself; big ones. It is impossible to get into a McDonalds, let alone a high level research lab, with a dog. Trust me, I know. There is no way David Banner would have been able to take his dogs to work, so to speak

With the exception of those two objections, the rest of the film is flawless. The cast was exceptional, and although many are saying that Nolte stole the show, I really liked Josh Lucas’ performance. Talbot was definitely the villain of the film, and Lucas did a first rate job portraying the sadistic Talbot. Connelly, Bana and Elliot all turned in performances on par with their best work.

Also turning in a great performance was the CGI Hulk. Did he look real? I thought so. Yes, there were times during the indoor scenes when he looked a little soft or way too green. But never did he look fake. And once he got outside, he was simply breathtaking. One of the major barriers to the Hulk’s believability was his skin color. There is no mammalian creature that I know of that has a bright green hue. I think that the Hulk would have been easier to accept if he had a more olive rather than fluorescent skin tone.

Fans of the comic will absolutely love the action that takes place in desert. It’s as if they took those sequences right out of a comic. It was certainly the high point of the film for me, and it really showed just how versatile the CGI Hulk was.

The Absorbing Dad was also handled well. He was a good villain for the Hulk to fight, although how they wounded up in the crater lake remains a mystery to me. I still think that the middle act was far better than the final battle, but I enjoyed the final battle a bit more the second time around.

Ang Lee and company did an exceptional job with this film. A lot of hard work and dedication was put into this film, and it really showed. There is not a single moment of this film which seems rushed or not thought out. I have been waiting for this film for a most of my life, and it really delivered. Once again, I give the film 4/5 stars, 8/10 stars, and 2 thumbs up.

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Check out the fan trailer here.


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