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Hulk (also known as The Hulk) is a 2003 American superhero film based on the fictional Marvel Comics character of the same name. Ang Lee directed the film, which stars Eric Bana as Dr. Bruce Banner, as well as Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Josh Lucas, and Nick Nolte. The film explores the origins of the Hulk, which is partially attributed to Banner's father's experiments on himself, and on his son. Development for the film started as far back as 1990. The film was at one point to be directed by Joe Johnston and then Jonathan Hensleigh. More scripts had been written by Hensleigh, John Turman, Michael France, Zak Penn, J. J. Abrams, Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, Michael Tolkin, and David Hayter before Ang Lee and James Schamus' involvement. Hulk was shot mostly in California, primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area. The film was released with mixed reviews and grossed over $245 million worldwide. Marvel Studios rebooted it in 2008 with The Incredible Hulk. David Banner is a genetics researcher who has figured out how to mutate human DNA so that the body can heal quickly from an injury or wound. He wants to use his research to create supersoldiers for the U.S.
Let's get one thing out of the way first: The Hulk, in Ang Lee's version, looks fantastic. He has texture, he certainly has mass, and the devastation left in his wake convinces us of his existence. Until you've seen the Hulk smash a tank and wrestle a helicopter in mid-air, you ain't seen nothing.
Lee catches newcomers up at a fevered clip. In 1966, pioneer scientist David Banner enjoys breakthroughs in the field of immune system modification. He needs a human guinea pig, but his supervisors forbid it, forcing Banner to run tests on himself. When Banner and his wife conceive a child, the father suspects he's passed his mutated genes onto his offspring, Bruce.
Years later, scientist Bruce (Eric Bana) unknowingly follows in his father's footsteps. Working alongside former flame Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly), the mild-mannered brain analyzes cell regeneration data until the day he's exposed to extreme doses of gamma radiation. As a result, Bruce's emotional damage and suppressed childhood memories manifest themselves physically in the form of a massive green monster when he's angered.
Lee successfully elevates the comic book adaptation to an art form without forgetting his source. Amazing frame wipes effectively set the film's mood, as new scenes enter and exit in circles and squares lifted from the pages of comic books. Not content with the basic "Hulk smash" approach, the director and his team of screenwriters introduce moral quandaries we're meant to chew on between rampages. Digs at the military's inclination towards dominance through advanced weaponry will sting the most patriotic of viewers. Nerds will revel in the passionate debates involving a scientist's instinctive desire to control nature.
Ever the perfectionist, Lee leaves no stone (or enormous boulder) left unturned. He receives quality acting across the board, particularly from an overachieving Nick Nolte as Bruce's deranged dad. The grizzled thespian plays Banner as more a "mad scientist" than a concerned paternal figure. He also fits in a great Lou Ferrigno walk-on cameo in there as well. This is a terrific reinvention of a classic superhero by one of our best directors.