I was more impressed by Hulk immediately after I’d seen it. Now, a week later, some of the shine has gone off it. What remains is still a very good film–just not a new superhero benchmark. The plot builds slowly in the first hour of the film, spending a lot of time on the characters and their backstories. Because you know that the Hulk is just sitting there waiting to be unleashed, the tension keeps on building. And when it emerges, it doesn’t disappoint. The creature effects are excellent–much better and more believable than you’d think from the trailers. But don’t go to see the film expecting an all-out action flick. It’s far more introspective than that. As Bruce Banner says after the first transformation, “It was about rage, power, and freedom.”
The film explores these themes in the context of a man coming to terms with his unrestrained alter ego, and his father’s dark past. There are some powerful emotional moments, but also a few over-the-top melodramatic clangers. The ending feels unfocussed, abstract, and confused. It really could have used an extra half hour or so to explain some of General Ross’s silly decisions, and to make the whole finale seem less stage-managed. Maybe in a director’s cut? All round, it’s a fine attempt to make a different kind of superhero film, but that isn’t necessarily what the genre needs right now.