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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > The Hulk (2003/HD-DVD)

The Hulk (2003/HD-DVD)


Picture: B+     Sound: B+     Extras: C-     Film: D



Ang Lee almost quit directing after wrecking The Hulk (2003) and one can see why.  Before Marvel hit cinematic paydirt with Blade in 1997, The Hulk was the only filmed franchise they get right, even if it was on the small screen.  That is why this bog screen version should have been a no-brainer.  However, with a screenplay by John Turman, Michael France (could this have been his final draft?  He is better than this.) and James Schamus, this is one of the ugliest and most sinister revisions of a superhero ever made.


The project of the film is to take the story of Dr. Bruce Banner (played here with some weight by Eric Bana) and make a corporate/government-friendly version of the story that amounts to nothing short of an ethnic cleansing of the character.  In the original, Banner is accidentally exposed by government tests and instead of dying, becomes The Hulk.  In this new version, the government is replaced by a man scientist father (Nick Nolte cast to type and unfortunately used out and wasted) who becomes the real reason he became Hulk.


Then, to make things even more obvious, there are pro-military sequences that are inane.  At their height, as the government hunts The Hulk, there is a split screen moment with obvious clones of George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice and an angry military General type played by a wasted Sam Elliott, father of Banner’s love interest played by Jennifer Connelly.  Never has a superhero character been so politicized and when all is said and done, you realize there is no story here.  It is just strange revisionist history serving no one and certainly not the fans.


Then there is the digital Hulk, rendered horribly and pointlessly, inconsistent in size, definition, color and personality.  Original Hulk Lou Ferrigno has a cameo with Stan Lee, which just makes it more obvious how bad the “new digital” version really is.  What were they thinking?  Event he animated Hulk from the animated Ultimate Avengers DVD (reviewed elsewhere on this site) is more realistic.


Additionally, the TV series did not blame the government or any corporation either, so why the shift to the extreme Right?  What was Ang Lee thinking, or is he truly clueless as to what was going on?  This runs 138 minutes, which seems longer than a whole season of the Bill Bixby series.  I wonder if Bixby would have bashed the film.  He was a very smart man.  Even fans of the film would have a hard time explaining what this hack job is about!


Ultimately, this film is a bomb and only curiosity interest prevented it from losing money, but it is up there with Charlie’s Angels – Full Throttle as one of the worst franchise films of all time.  Marvel itself actually took over the whole franchise after this disaster occurred, though Universal will now still distribute.  If Marvel repeats this, they might as well burn the money in a pile somewhere.  Otherwise, Marvel has their work cut out for them big time.  Sadly, it has developed a cult following, but you are better off getting the TV seasons with Bixby and Ferrigno.  At least they are not idiotic propaganda!



The 1080p digital 2.35 X 1 High Definition image has some very dated digital work, especially when The Hulk looks like Shrek, and this has become worse since its release.  However, as much as I do not want to admit it, this is one of clearer transfers of a Super 35mm production with such extensive digital work.  Cinematographer Frederick Elmes, A.S.C., did some good shooting before the multi-screen functions were applied.  Then there is the Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix, which features a forgettable score by Danny Elfman and slightly better surround mix than usual.


The odd thing is that Universal and Marvel did not go for a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack.  Warner/DC Comics have been doing so on every single new feature based on their comics when it comes to HD-DVD, so why this one did not is odd.  I can understand this with the much longer and far better King Kong on one HD-DVD, but not for this.  Fans will not be disappointed, though.


Extras include deleted scenes, full length audio commentary with director Ang Lee, featurettes The Unique Style Of Editing Of The Hulk, Evolution Of The Hulk - from the first metamorphosis of Bruce Banner into the Hulk on the pages of comic books to his on-screen metamorphosis, Hulk Cam – optional flashing icons during the movie let the viewer know when behind-the-scenes footage is available, The Incredible Ang Lee - A tribute to the Ang Lee's hands-on directing style, The Making Of The Hulk and The Dogfight Scene.


You can read more about the TV Hulk at the following link:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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