Hulk (2003) – DVD Review

Hulk (2003) DVD cover art

Film:
DVD:

Written by: Michael France, James Schamus & John Turman, based on the Marvel Comics character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Directed by: Ang Lee
Starring: Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Josh Lucas, Nick Nolte

Features:

  • Deleted scenes
  • Creation of the dogfight scene
  • Featurettes and other behind-the-scenes material available via branching during the film
  • Interactive exploration of the Hulk’s physical capabilities
  • Evolution of Marvel’s strongest super hero
  • “Creation of the Hulk” effects featurette
  • “The Incredible Ang Lee” featurette
  • “Hulkification”: Comic book artists’ recreations of a scene from the movie
  • XBox game demo
  • Running audio commentary by director Lee
  • Trailers
  • Filmographies

Released by: Universal
Region: 1
Rating: PG-13
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Rent it.

Dr. Bruce Banner (Bana) and his beautiful partner, Dr. Betty Ross (Connelly), are working on a project that will allow them to speed up a human’s ability to recover from serious trauma. Needless to say, the military has a marked interest in this project. Well, it just so happens that Ross’ father (Elliott) is a general who is in charge of overseeing projects just like this one. To add just a little bit more coincidence into the mix, Ross’ father is also the man who happened to put Banner’s father (Nolte) away for experimenting on himself. Bruce’s problem is that the experiments changed his father on a genetic level and those changes were passed on to him. After an accident at their lab, Bruce is exposed to lethal amounts of gamma radiation which unleashes a beast that lies hidden deep within his genetic code.

Sound boring? You’re not far wrong. Ang Lee tried to stay as true as he could to the comic book (so I’m told), but he just couldn’t pull off a psychological action movie with a huge green CGI character. Don’t get me wrong, the CGI Hulk looks fantastic, it’s all this other stuff that gets in the way of this being a really good comic book adaptation.

Now, I’m the first to admit that we as a society were spoiled (dare I say ruined?) by the television adaptation of the late 70s. For most of the American moviegoing public, this is the image of the Hulk that they know and love…not the comic book. I really think that this is one of the problems that this movie had from the outset. Rather than confronting this little problem, they simply ignored it. In fact, the only reference to the TV show is that Lou Ferrigno has a walk-thru cameo as a security guard. If you blink, you will miss him and Stan Lee entirely.

The Hulk (2003 version)

The Hulk has seldom been less Hulkish

Okay, the internal problems of this movie are the stuff of dissertations, but I’ll try to be brief. The characters are not well rounded at all and really give the actors very little to play with. The script relies much too heavily on choppy flashbacks that don’t help tell the story to tell the story. Rather than trusting the actors to do their jobs, the crew screwed it up by chopping the film up.

Bana does a fine job with his role of Bruce Banner, although he seems to be playing the I’m Getting Angry bit when this particular incarnation calls for more I’m Going To Try To Control My Anger To Keep The Beast From Getting Out Again. Connelly simply seems lost. Pretty much any time she is on screen, her character seems completely adrift in the story and her stakes in the whole thing are so low, you wonder if she has a pulse. There seems to be no urgency in her performance at all. Elliott and Nolte are everything that they are supposed to be. Elliott can play this hard-nosed general in his sleep, and Nolte seems to have been told, “Make sure you swing from the rafters! You haven’t done that yet!” There are scores of other problems with this movie, but these are enough to break even the strongest fan’s back. I really believe that if Bana and Connelly had been given a better script and had fixed their own acting problems, this movie could have had the chance at being the blockbuster that the studio hoped it would be.

Eric Bana and Jennifer Connelly from Hulk (2003)

Eric Bana and Jennifer Connelly

On the positive side, I really like what Ang Lee and his editors did with the transitions in this movie. It really has the feel of “watching” a comic book with lots of split screen slides and fades. Not being a hard core comic book fan myself, at first, I didn’t realize what he was doing; and even when I figured it out, I wasn’t sure I liked it.

Don’t let the double-disc special edition thing fool you. There really isn’t all that much to this treatment of the movie. The best thing that it has going for it is that there is a commentary track with Lee. I was anxious to hear him defend this movie (or tell the world that this was not what he had planned). He defended his movie and some of this thoughts made me change my mind about the use of the “comic book” style transitions that I have mentioned above. This is definitely worth watching at least once, especially if you are a fan of his work.

The rest of the features on the first disc are fairly sparse. There is an option that allows you to see little documentary clips on the making of the various special effects sequences in the film. The only way to access them is to watch the movie and wait for the little symbol to appear. These are few and far between and you have to watch quite a bit of the movie in order to see one (mostly because the movie creeps along), and when you finally get to see one, it’s really not worth the wait.

The “Anatomy of the Hulk” feature is just stupid. You are shown a menu of the Hulk’s body and when you click on one of them, you are given a short little blurb of pointless information that was blatantly obvious in the movie. The best example of the stupidity of this feature is when you click on the Hulk’s head. The blurb that pops up simply says “GRRRRR!” What a waste of space.

The last of the features on the first disc is a collection of deleted scenes. There is no submenu for you to choose the one(s) that you would like to see. Instead, you are forced to watch all of them (or none of them). There is no commentary track to support these, but it is pretty obvious as to why they were cut. Had they been in, it would have simply made the movie longer and more boring. Oh and there are also two sets of advertisements on this disc that can be accessed from the special features menu. There are ads for Sunny D and a Universal MasterCard that allows you to earn free movie tickets and/or DVDs with every purchase. Whoopee.

One other problem that I failed to mention is the fact that, when you put this DVD into your player, you are forced to watch four trailers for other Universal products. I don’t have a problem with putting them on a DVD, but not allowing a consumer to go directly to the menu is just plain silly. After all, even with VHS, you can fast forward through them, right? I hope that someone at Universal gets a clue from this.

Disc Two provides us first with “Hulkification,” where you can look at four different artists’ interpretations of one of the scenes in the movie. This is a multi-angle feature that allows you to switch back and forth between the scene from the movie and their drawings as the soundtrack of the movie plays along with it. This is a neat feature, but there’s just not a lot to it. Next up is the “Evolution of the Hulk” which is the obligatory history of the Incredible Hulk from comic book page to big screen. There are interviews with people who have been involved with the Hulk since his creation…including, of course, Stan Lee. All, in all, it lasts about fifteen minutes and is really a fairly thin gloss coat on the history. The better documentary is the one called “The Incredible Ang Lee.” I found it interesting that he put on the motion capture suit for most of the Hulk stuff for ILM. That’s really about all there is to get out of that one.

One of the most bizarre scenes in the movie gets a treatment on this DVD. This is a look at the scene where three mutant dogs go after Ross and the Hulk has to save her. If there was ever such thing as too much detail, this would be it. I mean, did we really need to see the production team sitting around a table discussing this mutant dog attack? Why not just focus on the digital effects? That would have been facinating, but this is just boring. The best documentary on the DVD is the one that focuses on the editing of this movie. This is a discussion with the editor and the folks over at ILM about making this movie feel more like a comic book via the style.

Finally, there is the “Making of Hulk”. This is broken up into four or five segments so that you don’t have to watch the whole thing all at once if you don’t want to. And…you won’t want to. This is the typical, fluffy making of featurette that you would see on pretty much any cable channel these days. It is designed not to provide more insight into the movie, but to increase ticket sales at the box office. There are DVD-ROM features lited on the menu, but when I put the disc in my drive, all I could find were a couple of different wallpapers and a screensaver.

So, if you are on the lookout for a bad comic book film adaptation with a DVD that is slightly more than a waste of time, rush right out and get this one. Seriously though, if you must at least rent it so you can take it back when you’ve finished crying.

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By | 2017-09-25T00:00:42+00:00 March 7th, 2004|DVD, Reviews|0 Comments

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