I don't call something an underrated masterpiece lightly. That's a bold claim, but I feel like this is necessary. Compared to the light and fluffy depiction of Banner and the big guy in the MCU these days, and especially compared to the safe, generic, boring Edward Norton flick, this movie is a deep and intimate journey through the breaking dam of latent rage.
Ang Lee is one of my favorite action directors of all time. This movie is sharp, lucid, cognitive... everything in it builds to an effect. The bold split screen effects are more than just comic book emulation, they are confusion and discomfort of an overload of information. The editing in this movie is deliberately crafted to make viewers angry... which was a huge risk that didn't really pay off, because resisting it makes you uncomfortable and it's not really an aesthetically pleasing thing to behold without the effect. But surrender to it, and you really find yourself in Bruce Banner's head... lapses in imagery and real-time continuity, jumbles of information and incoherent panic. The cinematography is perfect and unlike anything else.
The saddest thing about this film is Betty Brant's reaction to the monster, and Bruce Banner's dependence on her reaction. And that's really what this movie is about. Can Betty accept the rage and trust in something so wildly unpredictable? Logic versus heart. And Bruce is just lost within it. It's a sad story of helplessness.
For a film ripe with sporadic editing, the pacing is rock solid. The tone is very, very deep into the terrifying uncertainty and vulnerability of the two lead characters. We see a relationship unfolding in the first act, focused on vulnerability, and then throughout the second act, we are subjected to experiments with and invasions of that vulnerability in its peak state... and in the third act it builds to a ferocious release of pure chaos.
There's a strange sci-fi ending that feels a bit gratuitous, but as a cognition of the incoherent rage, it's cathartic and necessary. The ending of the relationship with Betty and Bruce is left ambiguous, which only makes the impact of the journey all the more potent.
This film is a piece of art. The characters may not be charming or likeable, but they're sympathetic. And what little humor there is may be dry, but the true joy of this movie is seeing the beast unleashed. The action in this movie is ultra physical. It is no jumble of grays like the 2008 film, it is no comical joke like Avengers Hulk. It is a terrifying and kinetic rampage. It's a story that is a contradiction, both human and inhuman. It's a monster of a film.
Bruce Banner, a brilliant scientist with a cloudy past about his family, is involved in an accident in his laboratory causing him to become exposed to gamma radiation and Nanomeds (a tiny lifeform that is supposed to heal wounds, but has killed everything with which they have made contact). Confused and curious about his survival, Banner discovers that since the accident, whenever he becomes angry, he transforms into a giant green monster destroying everything in sight in an act of rage. Bruce's mysterious past and the answer to why the radiation had this effect becomes revealed to him as his birth father David Banner intervenes with hopes to continue experimenting on him.
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June 21, 2013 at 10:42 PM