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Hulk (2003)

by on 2012/04/08

“Angry man is unsecured.”

* * *

Ang Lee’s Hulk will always have a special place in my heart. Hacker Renders and I first saw it back in the heady days of 2003 – the year we first met. Mr. Renders, who enjoys talking early and often during movies, kept a hilarious running commentary going in the mostly-empty theatre.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, this movie version of the Marvel comic was getting more ripped to shreds than a pair of Bruce Banner’s dress slacks. I liked Hulk – but I wasn’t sure if what I liked was the film itself or Mr. Renders’ amusing play by play.

Fortunately, this month is Comic Book Adaptation Month on so I had a chance to revisit the Hulk.

What I found was a whole lot to like once again, this time without Hacker Renders’ various witty remarks.

So I now present to you the following exhibits in the case for Ang Lee’s Hulk:

  • Hulk rips a tank in two and beats another tank to pieces with a tank gun mantlet.
  • Even more entertaining, the Hulk beats a mutant bulldog with a mutant Standard poodle.
  • Hulk bites the warhead off a missile and spits it at a helicopter – which then explodes.
  • Hulk can bounce so high off of the ground, he can fly.
  • Nick Nolte appears in full-on crazy, homeless dude mode.

Watching the Hulk fly through the air, I thought to myself, “You know, there are certainly worse things I could be watching right now.” Sure, the Industrial Light and Magic CGI Hulk wasn’t perfect, but it was undeniably fun to watch him cut his swath of Hulk-sized destruction. And how do you make a green rage giant look realistic anyway?

Eric Bana delivers an intense performance as Bruce Banner, the bionuclear researcher with a dark, mushroom-clouded past. Banner is a broody nerd with a lovely girlfriend and fellow researcher, Betty Ross, played by Jennifer Connelly (Dark City).  

Nolte plays Banner’s crazed, estranged father, David. David is a mutant King Lear in corduroy pants. This father and son reunion rates an 11 out of 10 on the disturbing scale. Banner’s dad (Nolte) isn’t just a janitor (embarrassing),  he’s also able to morph into an electric Nolte, then a rock Nolte, then water Nolte (terrifying).

Also great to watch is Sam Elliott (The Golden Compass) as General Ross, Betty’s dad and a macho, mustachioed member of the military-industrial complex. Damned entertaining. Elliott’s the cowboy versus the monster.

Also great is the highly realistic depiction of the health benefits of gamma radiation. In fact, I keep a little Hulk figurine on my desk at work to remind me.

To me, the Hulk has value – both filmic and sentimental. Therefore, me like Hulk. Hulk good.

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138 minutes

Rated PG-13 for Hulk smash America, Nick Nolte looking worse than his infamous mug shot, and partial nudity – now ask yourself how does the Hulk always keep his pants on? How, I ask you?

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