Ang Leeís Hulk is a dark and sombre drama about a dangerously driven scientist who curses his son with mutated genes.Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) also grows up to be a scientist, and an unfortunate surge of gamma radiation is enough to transform him into an enormous green muscle-bound human parody when he becomes angry. Banner must evade the military-scientific complex that wants to exploit or annihilate him and learn to control and manipulate his rage before it consumes him. Jennifer Connelly plays his protective ex, and the daughter of Banner Snr (Nick Nolte) and Jnrís chief military opponent (Sam Elliott).
Lee and his screenwriters (including regular James Schamus) eschew the easy temptations and clichťs of the genre, and risk alienating their audience. The Hulk doesnít appear in full CGI glory for nearly an hour (the film runs 150 minutes) and there isnít much humour to leaven the wait. The performances of Bana, Connelly and Elliott are restrained but vivid, with only Nolte hitting too high at the end.
The comic-graphic look of the film is sensational; split screens, dissolves, wipes and multiple camera angles echo the experience of immersing yourself in a comic. The novelty of Leeís serious approach to the material enthralled me, although the ending is messy and psychological themes arenít more than touched on.
For a studio blockbuster, Hulk takes risks. Lee makes us aware of the ramifications of each violent act, so weíre aware that the pilot of a downed helicopter has at least survived his brush with death. More unusually, Lee and his talented cast and crew succeed in portraying and evoking some real emotional responses amidst the standard explosions and mayhem.Itís a shame that Hulkís inability to match the box office returns of other recent - and lesser - action entertainments has undeservedly tainted it with the reputation of being a failure. Itís anything but artistically, and doesnít that matter more?