Not the best or most exciting of comic-book movies to date, but the most thoughtful and arguably one of the most interesting, Ang Lee’s Hulk offers a new look at Marvel Comics’s green-skinned Jekyll-and-Hyde pulp anti-hero through the director’s poetic, psychologically attuned sensibilities.
The result is an unusually restrained character drama that eventually segues into comic-book action, much like Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) himself morphing into the Hulk. It’s also a cautionary tale about the dangers of seeking to usurp the Creator’s prerogatives — something the villain expressly professes as his intention (note the name of the sinister corporation, "Atheon").
In reimagining the Hulk’s origins as involving not just a single gamma-ray related accident in Banner’s scientific career, but a legacy of fateful events extending to Banner’s childhood and even his paternity, Ang Lee recasts the story from a simple character allegory to an intergenerational tale of overreaching fathers and wounded children.
Lee’s deliberate pacing, psychological drama, and somewhat head-scratching climax may bewilder comic-book fans expecting a mere action-fest, but it’s something more ambitious. The sometimes cartoony CGI Hulk is no Gollum, but he’s effective enough, and his soaring leaps are among the film’s best images. Another visual highlight: virtuoso split-screen work that evokes comic-book panel layouts.
Although most viewers will probably find The Incredible Hulk diverting but — after a strong first act — forgettable entertainment, for Hulk fans smarting from the limitations of the Ang film, it may just be balm for the soul.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.