Hulk (2003)

Directed by Ang Lee. Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Nick Nolte, Josh Lucas. Columbia.

Decent Films Ratings

Entertainment Value
Value (+4/-4)
? +0
?Teens & Up*

External Ratings


Content advisory: Stylized, sometimes intense comic-book violence; implied domestic violence; limited profanity and crass language; fleeting rear nudity.

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Hulk (DVD)

A National Catholic Register "Video/DVD Picks" capsule review

By Steven D. Greydanus

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.

Tags: Avengers Assemble, Make Mine Marvel, Superheroes & Comic Book Movies, Action, Drama

Related Content

Review: The Incredible Hulk (2008)

B- | **½ | +0| Teens & Up

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.

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