Sunday, June 22, 2003


The Guardian
(June 21&22, 2003)

Temper is such an uncontrollable force to be reckoned with. This is one thought that embodies the saga of the comicbook fiction, the Hulk. The story of the Incredible Hulk, which was written by Marvel comic fiction master, Stan Lee, is centered upon Bruce Banner, a scientist who was hit by Gamma radiation in a freak laboratory accident. This triggered an alteration in his biological and psychological structure that whenever he gets very angry, he transforms into the monstrous, incredible Hulk. This comic book has garnered an enormous following, that a television series was made out of it in the 1980's, which starred Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk (Sorry guys, I can't remember that other actor).

THE HULK is the film adaptation of the comicbook series, which was directed by Ang Lee, whose credits include Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but is more identified with his dramatic movies The Ice Storm and Sense & Sensibility. The fact that it is directed by one who is a notable director of serious drama gave me the confidence and trust that this is going to be a pretty darn good movie. But the two other gigantic movies this summer season, X-men 2 and Matrix Reloaded has somehow overshadowed the hype of the Hulk. I was simply unexcited at first.

I have actually imagined the thought of what if they made an Incredible Hulk movie ever since I was in High School. I was a Hulk fan ever since my elementary days and always thought (because he was menacingly scary) he was cooler than Superman (who I considered as too pa-cute to be a role model for a weirdo such as myself). Well, for comic book fans such as myself, the wait has paid off, because this movie adaptation of the Hulk is worthy of a two-thumbs up.

The movie starts with the story of Bruce's father, who used to be a scientist working for the military, and was working on an experiment in the development of super soldiers. Obsessed by his project, he used himself as guinea pig to continue the experiment without authorization. As a grim result, he later discovered that he passed on his infected genes to his child, Bruce, who was beginning to manifest abnormalities during infant childhood. With the authorities trying to end his practice and with a family falling apart, Bruce ends up living with foster parents. He forgets about his childhood and has forgotten that he is actually Bruce Banner, the child of a scientist gone mad. Bruce, now an adult, lives as a scientist himself, an unconscious choice for a profession, and has caught himself in a freak laboratory accident. He survived the accident, but this led to a further alteration in his biological nature. With the resurfacing of his father, Bruce's future is uncertain. He is only given hope by the woman he loves, Betty Ross.

I actually thought at first that Eric Bana was a poor choice to cast as Bruce Banner, since the character of Banner is supposed to be not too hunky as what the comics perceived Banner to be. But Eric Bana did fit in with the way he acts his version of a well-mannered scientist caught in a conflict of love and conflict of what his past was. The very attractive Jennifer Connelly who stars as Betty Ross, is as good as Bana, but I'm sure that some critics would notice that her acting here is not a new thing due to the resemblance of circumstances between the affections of her character on this film and the affections of her character in the film "A Beautiful Mind". Nonetheless, Connelly's performance has served its purpose. But it was Nick Nolte, who starred as Bruce's father, who shined on this picture, driving the character of the determined mad scientist brilliantly over the top. I daresay his performance in this movie looked like a sure winner for the academy awards. Meticulous audiences would surely want to memorize his thought-provoking and powerful dialogue at the near end of the movie.

At first, I was not so impressed by the shifting of the scenes which appeared to be too artsy-fartsy, the film also employed the multi-panel style of presenting the movie, which later on turned to be just proper, in order to focus the different reactions and actions at the same moment. But the beauty of The Hulk is that it has a very rich storyline. It is Bruce's search for the past, it is Betty's unconditional love for his fiancée, it is a father's will to attain glory. It is one story that foreshadows another. It is more than meets the eye. It is also a heart-pounding action that let's us witness truly incredible action sequences. The director Ang Lee has indeed made a great one here. The title may have omitted the word "incredible" from the finished title of the adaptation. But it is indeed what this movie is. INCREDIBLE.