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Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris
'Hulk' gets the green light
By BILLY NORRIS
Published June 23, 2003
Summary: In the 1960s, scientist David Banner (Paul Kersey), working in a U.S. military lab, experiments with a drug that will genetically alter the human immune system, and he uses himself as the test subject. When Banner has a son, he discovers that the child has inherited the genetic changes that were caused by the drug the scientist injected into his body.
When David's unauthorized work is detected by the military, he destroys the lab and attempts to keep his son from having to live with the genetic alteration, which has permanently damaged the boy's body.
Many years later, Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) is an adult with no recollection of his traumatic childhood except for recurring nightmares that highlight his repressed memories and the knowledge that his parents died when he was small. Coincidentally, but unknown to him, he is following in his father's footsteps; he is in the same field: researching genetic mutations.
He is in an unstable relationship with his co-worker Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly), who wants him to reveal his secrets to her. Meanwhile, a strange man appears around the lab (it turns out to be his father, now played by Nick Nolte), and Bruce delves deep to discover what secrets his past holds.
In a mishap, he is exposed to an incredible amount of gamma radiation, which should have killed him. But it only activates the wrath of his father's genetic legacy, which is triggered only by Bruce's extreme anger. Then Bruce is transformed into an enormous, muscle-bound green Hulk (a computer-generated creation). He has the power to destroy anything. Now, the military is hot on his tail; it wants to eliminate the threat of another "Hulk episode."
My View: This film has virtually nothing to do with the old television series The Incredible Hulk. But in a clever touch, Lou Ferrigno, who played the Hulk in the series, makes a quick cameo, along with Stan Lee, creator of the 1962 Marvel comic on which the movie is based. I expected this film to be like Spider-man, with the main character being a superhero, not a supermenace. I was surprised at how deep this movie got, especially because it is a tale from the comics.
The story was too complicated. It took about 45 minutes just to fill in the background information and get to the first really exciting Hulked-out action sequence. The film seemed to run away at times; drawn-out single character monologues were the culprit.
Hidden beneath the convolution were some good things, though. The scenes involving Bruce Banner morphing into Hulk were impressive, despite the creature looking like Shrek on steroids. The effects sequences were marvelous, accentuated by split-screen shots showing the action from numerous perspectives (this gave the visual effect of looking at a comic book page in motion). Watching this not-so-jolly green giant hurl military tanks thousands of feet and fight off a supersized mutated French poodle was quite fun.
The ending doesn't leave us hanging, but it does set us up for at least one sequel, if this film does as well at the box office as I expect it will.
Recommendations: This is much more violent than Spider-man, thus the PG-13 rating is right on the money. This will be the big hit of the summer. Even though it was not on par with my expectations and was longer (138 minutes) than I would have liked, it was still a captivating film.
- Billy Norris, 15, will be in the 10th grade at Seminole High School and is a former member of the Times' X-Team.