Directed By: Ang Lee

Starring: Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Josh Lucas, and Nick Nolte

Back in 2003, we were just getting started in this era of annual big budget action flicks featuring superheroes from Marvel Comics.  With the successes of X-Men, Spider-Man, and X2: X-Men United, everybody was expecting Hulk to do big things.  In the 2003 film Hulk, we wanted to see the big green angry man be incredible on the big screen.  Unfortunately, director Ang Lee takes us on a tour of Bruce Banner's scarred psyche.

David Banner (Nick Nolte) has destroyed himself by conducting experiments on his own body.  He's become an unstable mutant known as The Absorbing Man who can absorb energy around him.  In the process, he's also destroyed his family.  David accidentally stabs and kills his wife Edith (Cara Buono).  On top of this, he passes a genetic mutation onto his son Bruce (Eric Bana) that will haunt him for the rest of his life.  Soon after, Thaddeus Ross (Sam Elliott) has David committed to a mental institution and puts his son Bruce in foster care.

Because of his father's life choices, Bruce Banner is one screwed up dude, both physically and mentally.  He just doesn't know it yet. Years later, Bruce is a bionuclear research scientist working at a lab with Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly), General Ross's daughter.  When Bruce gets exposed to gamma radiation in a lab accident, he brings out a side in him he never knew.  Whenever he gets angry now, Bruce transforms into a giant green monster.  Naturally, this complicates his relationship with Betty.  Things get worse though when Betty's dad General Ross and slimy ex-soldier Major Glenn Talbot (Josh Lucas) get involved.

Hulk is the first big budget Marvel vehicle to be anything but incredible.  The actors give good performances, the comic book mythology is rich enough to bring to life on film, and viewers have been waiting years to see "Angry Man" get green on the big screen.  None of this can overcome the big problem of the film.  Director Ang Lee has given us too much back-story on Bruce Banner and not enough action.

Storytelling is fine and dandy, but Ang Lee makes Hulk too damn long.  It takes more than 45 minutes for Hulk to even make his debut on camera, and we just get a little temper tantrum after this long wait.  On top of this, it then takes another 45 minutes to get to any decent action sequences.  Covering the mythology behind superheroes in detail is great, but get to the freaking point.  It takes 90 minutes for Lee to get to some really great action sequences where Hulk can become the big angry green badass he was born to be.  That's certainly not worth the wait.

After taking forever to get the big guy on screen, Hulk doesn't bring him to life in quite the right way.  A year after Spider-Man, the bar had been raised for CGI.  If we can get our friendly neighborhood Spidey looking realistic as he swings through the streets of New York, we can certainly bring Hulk to life in a vivid, authentic way.  Nonetheless, the CGI here is absolutely disastrous.  Hulk looks like a big, sad cartoon character trying to find his way in the real world.  That's just pathetic.

Hulk is ultimately a brooding film that focuses on the man behind the big green menace.  The problem is that we want that big green angry guy.  Ang Lee wastes too much time and talent by delving into the minutiae of Hulk's comic book mythology.  This comic book movie just doesn't get the job done.  Hulk gets a 0.09% rating.  Have a few green apple martinis during this one.