This is possibly the first suprise of the summer, and a pleasant one at that. While I definitely was not impressed with the ad campaign for the movie, being a fan of comic books for a few years now I've looked forward to this for a few months now, especially considering the success of past adaptations from the last few years. While feeling sceptical in the first few minutes of previews, once the opening credits appeared in a font not uncommonly seen in comics, I began to get into it. By the time Eric Bana makes his first transformation into the Hulk in a very stylistic fashion, I couldn't help but feel giddy.
It is both easy and difficult for me to call this one of the best comic book adaptations to grace the screen for a few reasons. It's difficult for me to say this because for the first third of the picture there are plenty of comic book elements but little action, the first third of the movie is character drama, which although extremely well handled, doesn't fit too well with an audience who expect to see a fifteen foot tall green abomination kicking ass. It certainly didn't bother me but I know it didn't go over too well with the people I was with who for the most part were tired and in need of more action.
No matter, as even with the first third being the way that it was, Ang Lee used a technique which I've never seen before where transitions between scenes are panned and such as if each scene is a panel straight from the pages of a comic book. These transitions, although slightly overused, totally brought me into the movie and made the movie feel just like a comic book, something that I've never witnessed before.
There was also a lot of controversy surrounding how Hulk looked on screen, and although it is obvious that he was CGI, he looked great, the trailers did no justice to his appearance. The greatest thing for me was that even though he did look "fake", he still looked amazing and very fitting for a comic book movie. Along with the spectacular comic-like transitions used throughout, Hulk's appearance helped to solidify the feeling that you're watching a comic book come to life before your eyes.
Even though it may not be the best movie based on a comic, it is among the best comic book movies. The movie is a hard one to recommend because Ang Lee himself described it as an independent movie with a mainstream budget, and this is present through the wooful action scenes and breathtaking cinematography which are typical of a person who brought us Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Although not perfect, you have to appreciate the effort that Lee put into bringing the big green goliath to the silver screen with artistic style to burn. See it if you have an appetite for character driven drama fused with comic book elements.
-Andrew "Banky" D.