Scientist David Banner introduces the idea of creating super soldiers by introducing modified DNA sequences extracted from various animals to strengthen the human cellular response, making them effectively impervious to any weaponized agent, but General Thaddeus Ross denies him permission to use human subjects. Banner subsequently conducts the experiments on himself. After the birth of his son Bruce, he finds that his son may have inherited the effects and seeks a cure, but is stopped in the process. Bruce remembers nothing of the incident after a traumatic event, and has been raised by the Krenzlers. Years later, Bruce is a geneticist working with his ex-girlfriend Betty Ross, within the Berkeley Biotechnology Institute on nano-med research. The pair hope to achieve instantaneous cell repair by using low level Gamma radiation exposure to activate the nano-meds once they are introduced into a living organism. During routine maintenance of their appropriated Gamma-spectrometer, a circuit shorts and triggers the experiment’s program sequence. Unable to prevent the machine from firing, Bruce throws himself in front of his colleague to shield him and is exposed to incredibly toxic levels of Gamma Radiation.
Betty visits Bruce in the hospital and remarks that he should be dead, but Bruce feels great. A new janitor at the lab claims that he is Bruce’s biological father, of whom Bruce has no recollection. When under extreme stress, Bruce transforms into the Hulk, a huge humanoid green-skinned monstrous being who destroys the laboratory, though he has no memory of the incident. General Ross suspects Bruce of collaborating with his father but then deduces Bruce has repressed memories. He orders Bruce to be put under house arrest. Through a phone call with his father, Bruce learns that the radiation unleashed something that was already in his DNA, and that David Banner plans to have Betty killed by his dogs, which now have similar powers to the Hulk thanks to David mutating them with gamma radiation, and he is then attacked by Major Glenn Talbot, leading to a transformation into the Hulk. The Hulk seriously injures Talbot before leaping to save Betty from the dogs. The Hulk fights and kills David’s dogs and changes back into Bruce before being captured by the military the next morning.
Kept at a secret desert base, Bruce is kept under observation while Talbot intends to weaponize the Hulk’s powers. David tries to recreate Bruce’s failed experiment, but instead of turning into another Hulk he finds himself able to absorb any materials and energy he touches, and hands himself over to the military after telling Betty that he had murdered his wife in front of the child Bruce. Bruce has a nightmare about the event which leads to a more powerful transformation of the Hulk. Talbot is killed in an explosion created by his own when he attempted to use a special syringe to gain a sample of the creature. The Hulk escapes the base and rampages his way across the desert to San Francisco, battling army forces sent after him. When Betty calms him into his human form, General Ross realizes that the Hulk cannot be controlled and that Bruce should be executed.
At their mutual execution, David tries to taunt his son into transforming into Hulk, but fails. He then decides to “go first” and bites an electrical cable absorbing all the electricity in San Francisco. The electricity hits Bruce, triggering his own transformation. A brutal fight ensues between David and the Hulk, with David absorbing Hulk’s energy during the fight. David finds that the Hulk’s energy is too much for him to handle, but when he himself transforms into a massive gamma mushroom-like creature, he is killed by an army missile at the height of his weakness. One year later, though Bruce is presumed dead, whilst General Ross mentions apparent Hulk sightings and Betty admits her love for Bruce. In a South American jungle, Bruce has become a doctor and is approached by rebel militants who want to take medical supplies from the poor. Bruce faces the militants’ leader, warning him that he is making him angry. Bruce’s eyes turn green and a roar of the Hulk is heard.
However, I was very pleasantly surprised. As many previous reviewers pointed out, Ang Lee created a marvelous movie/comic book amalgam, which may be too cerebral to viewers, and that’s where all the problems lie, Ang Lee wanted to make the movie as cerebral as possible, which pretty much alienated most of the audiences. Despite that, we got some pretty good performances by Sam Elliot and Nick Nolte, while Eric Bana, and Jennifer Connelly kinda fell flat in their performances, Connelly being the worst offender and Ang Lee’s direction really wasn’t too bad. Overall, while we had to wait five years for the Hulk movie we deserved, this was a pretty decent movie to hold us over until that day finally came.
Also, I usually don’t get to talk about the Stan Lee cameos, but this one with him and Lou Ferrigno is one of my favorites.
RANK: 2 out of 5
Next time, we get another take on certain bounty… It’s The Punisher.