Hulk [2003]

When the Hulk gets angry, his movie gets good, so you wish he'd get angry more often. Accepting this challenge after the triumphant Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, director Ang Lee has created an ambitious film, based on the Marvel comic created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, that succeeds as a cautionary tale about mad science and traumatized children coping with legacies of pain. That's the Hulk's problem: After accidental exposure to gamma radiation, scientist Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) turns into the huge, green, and indestructible Hulk when provoked, and repressed childhood memories fuel his fury. Hobbled by the obligatory "origin story" (to acquaint neophytes with the character's Jekyll-and-Hyde-ish fate), there's room for little else in a sluggish film that struggles to reconcile Lee's stylistic flair (evident in his visual interpretation of comic-book technique) with the razzle-dazzle of a megabudget franchise. What's good is good (Jennifer Connelly essentially echoes her role from A Beautiful Mind, and Nick Nolte is righteously tormented as Banner's father), but the movie's schizoid intentions remain largely unclear. --Jeff Shannon

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