review for Hulk on AllMovie

Hulk (2003)
by Andrea LeVasseur review

The hotly anticipated summer blockbuster The Hulk sets up a power struggle between father and son that manifests itself in the form of a giant green CGI creature. As Dr. Bruce Banner, Eric Bana certainly has the right bone structure and muscle mass to be convincing as the alter ego of a comic book superhero. He maintains an intense, cheerless attitude while Nick Nolte overacts as his Charles Manson-looking mad scientist father, Dr. David Banner. The clincher hangs on a repressed memory lurking in Bruce's subconscious, which is alluded to in the opening sequence of close-ups and replayed in various flashy ways. Much of the film's structure is flashy, with multiple split screens, fancy dissolves, and moving comic book-style cells that may seem gimmicky to some. Still, there are thrilling moments and striking visuals when the Hulk appears, especially during the extended chase scene across the desert and through the sky, culminating in the trashing of the San Francisco Bay area. Throughout it all, Jennifer Connelly is weepy and worried as Dr. Betty Ross, who never seems to spark with the closed-off Bruce. Surprisingly, it's Sam Elliott who brings a sorely needed gentle humanity to the role of Betty's stern and distant father, General Ross. After the main special effects-laden climactic sequence, the tacked-on ending marks a radical shift in tone toward a Hulk with a purpose rather than a Hulk on the run, presumably for the function of setting up a sequel. As a good monster movie, the action is entertaining and the main drama is intriguing, but the downbeat story and long running time might disappoint viewers looking for the charm of other contemporary superhero movies.