Hulk (2003)


July 19, 2017
Running time
Previous review
Next review

(We start off with a parody of the intro of the TV show The Incredible Hulk (1978). The red sign "DANGER" starts blinking as the Nostalgia Critic puts the movie Hulk (2003) in a Blu-ray player. As he watches it, he grows more and more angry)

Narrator (Malcolm): Nostalgia Critic: critic of nostalgia. Searching for a movie to tap into the inner frustrations every movie nerd has. Then, a viewing of a fascinatingly misdirected movie alters his chemistry. And now, whenever he hears any mention of the movie Hulk, a startling metamorphosis occurs.

(Tamara is shown holding the Blu-ray of the movie and discussing it with Malcolm. When NC comes up, he dramatically knocks it out of Tamara's hand, and it falls on the floor)

NC: (calmly) Malcolm. Tamara. Do not show me that movie. You wouldn't like me when you show me that movie.

(He then explodes, but nothing happens to NC afterwards)

NC: I exploded.

(Tamara and Malcolm just shrug. Cut to NC crying to the sky in the rain in over-the-top manner, with the title "The Incredible Sulk" appearing below. We then are shown NC watching silently at the Blu-ray case of Hulk, with the Blu-ray itself having been smashed into pieces)

Narrator: The Critic is wanted for property damage he didn't commit. Well, okay, he did, but it was just of a movie. And that movie sucked. The Critic's patience is believed to be dead. And he must let the world believe that he's dead, until he can find a way to control the whiny bitch that dwells within him.

(The screen splits, with the one half of Critic just watching, and the other crying in the rain. The title "The Incredible Sulk" appears once more as the frame freezes. And we come to our opening! After that, we cut to the NC sitting in his usual spot)

NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. You know... (an image of the Incredible Hulk appears in the corner) this should be the easiest guy to make interesting.

(Cut to a montage of shots of Hulk comics)

NC (vo): The Incredible Hulk is a classic Jekyll-and-Hyde story about scientist Bruce Banner, whose experiment goes wrong and turns into a giant green monster whenever he gets angry. It has both the psychological and physical elements that usually make for great classic storytelling.

(Cut to a poster for the 2008 Incredible Hulk movie)

NC (vo): Yet his cinematic ventures have been so underwhelming that...

(Cut to a shot of the Hulk as part of the group shot of the title group from Avengers: Age of Ultron)

NC (vo): ...despite him being many people's favorite parts in other movies...

(Another shot of a solo Hulk is shown)

NC (vo): solo movies are planned in the near future.

NC: And that all started with the... (imitates Hulk sounds while putting his fist in his mouth) ...simply known as Hulk.

(We see the title of the movie, before showing clips, as well as showing images of director Ang Lee and posters of his other movies)

NC (vo): How can a story about a giant green monster be boring? That was the challenge presumably given to director Ang Lee. He just finished a winning streak with his martial arts opus, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, winning over box office, critics, and too many awards to count. So producers immediately said, "That, we want that for our action-packed Hulk movie".

NC: But what they were missing is that Ang Lee usually did social dramas.

(An image of a character from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is shown)

NC (vo): He did Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon because he always wanted to do a martial arts movie.

NC: One. One martial arts movie.

NC (vo): He brushed up for years on martial arts flicks so he could figure out how to do it right. With Hulk, very clearly, he was a director-for-hire, and saw this more as a means to experiment rather than bring a lifelong dream to life.

NC: And much like Bruce Banner, this experiment would haunt him for the rest of his days.

(The posters for Life of Pi and Brokeback Mountain are shown)

NC (vo): He certainly recovered and returned back to his comfort zone, but the mark this movie left on comic fans is probably the most uniquely bad since this.

(Cut to a clip from Batman & Robin)

Batman: This is why Superman works alone.

NC (vo): But while that was bright and colorful and at least made little kids happy, this...would only make that kid who stands in the corner saying "I'm bad, I'm bad, I'm bad" happy.

NC: Because he's gonna set someone on fire.

NC (vo): So, why is this the most intriguing and yet somehow also most boring of missteps?

NC: Well, let's make everybody angry with Hulk.

(The movie's opening credits roll to a triumphant music by Danny Elfman)

NC: Whoa, tone down those expectations there! This is not the movie you're going to get.

NC (vo):​ Now, let's instead do those early 2000s credits of blurry close-ups mixed with sped-up and slowed-down editing. I've always wanted to see an intro with my glasses off and a monkey playing with the remote.

(NC is seen with his glasses off, while a monkey screeches in the background, as the intro sequence goes on)

NC:​ Okay, Coco, push play. Push play... No, now you're fast forwarding- No, now you're slowing it down- No, now you have it on extreme zoom! Extreme zoom... No, no! Pull it back to normal- (to the camera) This is the best way to watch this movie!

​NC (vo):​ Oh, and if you think this style is only done in the credits, your senses are in for a bludgeoning, because there's gimmicky editing techniques throughout the entire film.

NC:​ And I mean, the entire film.

​NC (vo):​ Just look at this flashback of Bruce Banner's father.

Edith:​ I'm gonna have a baby.

(Edith going through labor pushes through the screen between the previous shot. The camera pulls out of labor room, and then zooms to David and baby Bruce at home. Then, we cut to shot of David's notes with the words "...has been passed on", before a fern sprouts over the notes)

NC:​ If you find this mildly annoying, then just add two hours of it, and that M will quickly turn upside down. (The word "Mildly" pops on screen, with the M turning upside down, turning "Mildly" into "Wildly")

​NC (vo):​ Like me, you might be wondering, what's the point of all these transition tricks? Trick-sitions, as I like to call them! My best guess is Ang Lee wanted to create the closest thing he could to a comic book, meaning the film literally has panels, speed lines, and elements of space and time overlapping each other.

NC:​ There's just one problem with that, though. If you're adapting a book, would you constantly...

NC (vo): ...put words all over the goddamn place? This is way too friggin' literal!

​​(Cut to the library scene from IT, with Pennywise laughing at Richie, showing sentences appearing across the screen like ​"He sat on top of the stair rail", "​Do you have Prince Albert in a can?", "​You better let the poor guy out!", and of course, "​Wah-hah! Wah-hah! Wah-hah!". We are then shown the screen splitting between General Thaddeus Ross (Todd Tesen) talking in the microphone and David Banner (Paul Kersey) running up the stairs)

Ross: Gamma decontamination will occur in 30 minutes.

NC: Actually, I take it back. There's two problems with this technique. In a comic book, these are used...

(The pages from Deadpool/Spider-Man and Batman comic books are shown)

NC (vo): suck you more into the story. It leaps off the page and brings you into their reality.

NC: This is constantly taking you...

(The various split screens and transitions in the movie are shown)

NC (vo): ...out of what's going on. You can't even breathe in the world, because the movie's too busy trying to physically show you the lines that they're supposed to be breathing in!

Ross: Gamma decontamination will occur in 30 minutes.

NC: Actually, I take it back. There's three problems with this! I'm sorry to dwell in this so much, but this is literally throughout the whole goddamn film! It's best to tackle it in what... (He angrily shows the middle finger)

(The clips from Spider-Man 2 and Sin City are shown)

NC (vo): Other movies like Spider-Man and Sin City look like the comics they portray to create a stronger environment for their world. They're adventurous, they're action-packed, they're totally over-the-top.

NC: You know what this film mostly consists of?

(Bruce (Eric Bana), his girlfriend Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly), and co-worker Harper (Kevin Rankin) are shown working on nanomed research, just sitting in front of the computers and talking calmly)

Bruce: Are we passing inspection?

Harper: Safeties all going green...

NC: THAT! A lot of sitting and talking!

NC (vo): So the style doesn't even match the tone! It's like they realize there's no friggin' excitement in this flick, so to remind you it's even supposed to be a comic book film, they're like...

NC: "Um... Pffft. Throw some..."

NC (vo): "...Comic Sans in there, put that frame there, that frame over there and make it look like The Brady Bunch."

(A shot of Carol Brady from the intro of said show briefly pops up during one of the split screens)

NC: (with arms wide, smiling) Comics! We get this!

(A two-year old Bruce is shown playing with toys, and while he shakes them, the frames are blurred)

NC: Uh, on second thought, maybe we don't. Where the hell is...

NC (vo): ...our comic that had imagery like that?

NC: (holding an Atomic Robo comic) Maybe if I read it while doing this. (shakes his head wildly while reading the comic)

(The trees are shown with close-up on their green moss)

NC (vo): Also, I don't think trees are a big focus of comics. We're...really putting the camera on this? We're this bored? This early?

NC: Unless this is Treebeard's porn stash, why are you shooting that?! (Treebeard from The Lord of the Rings is shown with a VHS cover that says "Morning Wood" and has birches on it)

NC (vo): So something tragic happens in Bruce's past that he's repressed, and...with his dad taking his mother screaming into the back, you can probably guess what it is.

NC: Oh! I mean, I'm gonna spend the whole entire film wondering what that- He kills his mom! (Beat) Come on!

NC (vo): It even cuts immediately to a foster home when he's a teen. You think we couldn't figure this out? Though, to their credit, maybe his stepmom's disinterest is supposed to distract us from connecting the dots.

(Bruce's stepmother, Mrs. Krenzler (Celia Weston), comforts him)

Mrs. Krenzler: There's something inside you. So special. Some kind of greatness, I'm sure. Someday you're gonna...share it with the whole world.

NC: (as a director) Okay, cut! That was good, but, uh, (brings out a folder) let's try something a little different here this time. Let's try trying.

NC (vo): Though, don't worry, stepmother, the award for the least amount of effort clearly goes to Jennifer Connelly. I get the feeling every day she showed up to the set and the crew was like...

NC: (as a director, rubbing his hands in excitement) Okay, Connelly! Uh, are we gonna act today or not act today?

Betty: (speaking softly to Bruce, almost monotone) There was some sort of explosion. They wouldn't let us into the building. l was worried about you.

NC: (as a director) ...Not act today. (calls out) Okay, it's a non-acting day, everybody! (smiles sheepishly) We just wanted to know how to shoot it to make you look...invested.

NC (vo): Hell, I think the most gripping performances in the movie probably come from these two.

(Stan Lee and the original Hulk performer/voice actor Lou Ferrigno are shown as security guards walking out the building)

Security guard (Stan Lee): Security ought to be beefed up a lot more in a place like this.

NC: I really believe that he wanted tighter security. And I really believe...

NC (vo): ...that Lou Ferrigno at him.

NC: Okay, I didn't even believe that, but he looked like this for years! He gets a pass! (A photo of Lou Ferrigno performing as the Hulk from the 1978 live-action series is shown)

(Two clips from the movie are shown: one with the caption "Desert Base, 1966" written in a typical comic book font, and the other with the caption "Berkley Nuclear Biotechnology Institute" written in a simple Arial font)

NC (vo): By the way, minus two points for even your credits not being consistent. When even your font doesn't want what it wants to be, you're kind of in trouble.

Harper: Bruce. Big day. Did you sleep?

NC (vo): We find out that Bruce, played by Eric Bana, is working on ways to expose gamma rays to electro-enegry jigawatts capacitor-

NC: "Sciency shit were somehow superpowers" are the wrong answer.

NC (vo): They try their experiment on a frog and discover the results are a little too explosive.

(The frog they use nanomed on is shown on monitors. It swells and pops up. Bruce, Betty and Harper say nothing)

NC: (solemnly) Somebody call Miss Piggy. There's been an...accident.

(Bruce and Betty are shown having a break at night)

Bruce: You want to tell the review board that we've developed a brand-new method for exploding frogs?

Betty: Yeah. l think maybe there's a market for it. Frogs start falling from the sky...who do they come to?

NC: (after a beat, laughing nervously and slowly) Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

NC (vo): No. Really. Suck of it while you can. That's the only joke in the entire movie.

(A retrangular shot of a man named Glenn Talbot (Josh Lucas) reading in the waiting room the next day fades in and expands)

NC (vo): Oh, excuse me. There's a bookmark of a man reading fighting for space.

NC: Okay, if you really can draw this much attention to your transitions, I'm gonna draw even more attention to it by putting in the goofy sound effects they deserve!

(As Talbot notices Betty walking in, the split screens and transitions throughout this scene are accompanied by various Hanna-Barbera sound effects)

Talbot: Betty!

(Talbot hugs Betty, and it transitions to a scene of them talking, with more effects in the background)

NC (vo): This Dickface McSneer Smirk is Glenn. He is...doing exactly what you think he's gonna do: try and steal Banner's girlfriend, get in the way of his experiment and waste a lot of time trying to explain every boring reason why.

Talbot: So, how's business?

Betty: What do you want?

Talbot: Your little molecular machines have some incredible implications. How'd you like to come work for Atheon, get paid 10 times as much as you are now...

(The title "The Hulk" appears on screen to a dramatic sting)

NC (vo): (in an over-the-top manner) The Hulk! People calmly discussing things! Staring at each other in silence! But... Look! Green walls! (A bunch of arrows pop up, poining at the walls) It's...kind of like the Hulk is there! Symbolically!

NC: Oh, you just don't get it! You don't understand the layers of subtlety and conversation that need to be had with... (faintly raises his fists in the air, as "The Hulk" appears again) The Hulk!

(An unknown man is shown cleaning up the floor with a mop at night, and Betty notices him)

NC (vo): Ooh, look! It's the film's first big surprise: they got a new janitor!

Betty: What happened to Benny? He's not working the night shift anymore?

Man: I'm the new guy.

(NC is smiling widely and looks left and right briefly)

NC: That's exciting!

Betty: Good to meet you.

Man: Same.

(We go the the next scene of Bruce working at a laptop with a water-like transition)

NC: Ah. The classic "mop" transition...

NC (vo): ...I see (chuckles) so often in comics.

NC: (looks down, disgusted) Man, it's a good thing nobody takes a shit in this movie...

(Bruce looks at the photo of Betty standing in front of a tree)

NC (vo): So Bruce sits around, staring at old pictures of Connelly as his girlfriend- (Suddenly, the frame comes to life, as Bruce in the photo comes to Betty and kisses her, smiling) Oh, come on!! Even the Kodak film has to run through the pretentious filter?!

NC: I'm just waiting for The Prisoner of Azkaban to knock them out with a bottle of butterbeer! (A clip from the aforementioned movie is shown, showing the famous "Have You Seen This Wizard?" poster of Sirius Black, who's laughing madly on the poster)

NC (vo): This results in a flashback of when Bruce and her were still dating.

Bruce: Tell me about your dream.

Betty: It starts with a memory. From when I was maybe two years old.

(We flash back (a flashback in a flashback - weird), with fading in with another HB effect, to two-year-old Betty having an ice cream with her father)

Betty (vo): I was living at a desert base with my father. Suddenly I'm alone.

(The frame fades out and in two times to show us the outside of the ice cream store, all to the mysterious female voice in the background. NC doesn't know what to say but...)

NC: The Hulk! (The said title zooms in again)

NC (vo): (in an over-the-top manner) Talking about dreams! Reoccuring dreams! With your boyfriend being your father and trying to strangle you- (does a double take, stuttering)

NC: What?!?

(Bruce appears in place of Betty's father and we are shown the point of two-year-old Betty's view, as Bruce brings his hand to strangle her. Fade to Bruce and Betty (from Bruce's flashback) lying on the bed together)

Bruce: That's terrible. You know I'd never hurt you.

(NC just stares in confusion and shock at what just happened with his jaw agape)

NC: Okay, um... Anyone that's new to the dating scene; I don't know what Ang Lee is trying to tell you, but if your date says...

NC (vo): ...they have a reoccuring dream about you as their father trying to kill them as a small child-

NC: Out. Just...get out. Don't even make up an excuse! Flee!

NC (vo): The only person you should flee faster from is Nick Nolte-

(We are shown Bruce's father David, now played by Nick Nolte, at the computer, still trying to figure out the DNA for supersoldiers)

NC: Of course he's in this movie!

David: You may not want to believe it, but l can see it.

NC (vo): Nolte plays Banner's real dad. I'm not sure if he went crazy and then did the film, or if he did the film and then went crazy, but...there's regret to be had all around.

NC: I guess he's supposed to be intimidating, doesn't really help...

(Bruce opens the blinds to look through the window and sees David (whom he doesn't know at the moment) standing on the sidewalk along with three dogs)

NC (vo): ...when you're stalking a guy with three cuddly dogs by your side. No, seriously. This was supposed to be a threatening image. I'm sorry! The dogs goddamn ruin it! (snickering) Banner is so intimidated by this that he actually closes the blinds. Why?! Even the most paranoid person wouldn't muster a sweat from this!

(Cut to a skit, in which Tamara nervously goes to peek through the blinds and sees David with his three dogs. She bursts out laughing)

Tamara: (laughing) What is that? What is that?! Hey, buddy! Best in Show is down the street! (laughs some more) What are you, gonna bring down the baton and have them bark "Ode to Joy"? (She peeks out once more to see all four gone, and calms herself down) Oh, thank God they're gone. I thought I was gonna die of laughter. Whoo! They really need to be in a Hulk movie.

(She walks away from the window. Back to the movie)

NC (vo): Bruce walks in to find Smooth Suit McEeeeeeh who wants to weaponize his ability to blow up frogs.

(After the above scene, we cut to Bruce and Betty talking while Harper fixes Bruce's gamma-ray spectrometer)

Betty: About Glenn. I am...

Bruce: There's nothing to talk about.


NC (vo): Jesus, we're half-hour in, and not only has no action happen, but...

NC: ...Think about it. What do we really know about Bruce Banner?

NC (vo): He...fondles babies in other people's dreams...

NC: (irritated) Well, that's the most I'm getting out of it!

(All of a sudden, a circut shorts and an alarm starts wailing. Bruce runs to help Harper)

NC: Oh, no!

NC (vo): Something's happening!

NC: Stop! Before at least to the dangers of interests!

Bruce: Harper, get out!

(Bruce stands in front of the machine to shild Harper, and the effect of Bruce getting gamma radiation is depicted as a black-and-white flashes similar to ones in Photoshop)

NC (vo): The experiment seems to go wonky, and Bruce sacrifices himself to a Photoshop filter...

NC: No, really, it's this one. (He snaps fingers, and a grey image of him snapping fingers is shown, rendered in Photoshop) See?

(We zoom on Bruce's eye turning green)

NC (vo): ...finally leading to him transforming into (Cut to...Bruce waking up in hospital; NC's excitement abruptly goes down) a guy in a hospital bed-

NC: (his face covered with hands, exhausted) OH, MY GOD-

Bruce: (to Betty) How's Harper?

Betty: He's all right.

NC: (in sheer desperation) The Hulk!!!

NC (vo): "How's Harper?" "He's all right! We're gonna sell so many toys!"

(At night, David comes to sleeping Bruce's room, watching him silently)

David: Your name is not Krenzler. (Bruce wakes up)

NC (vo): But hospital security proves it's worth every penny as Nick Nolte and his... (The dogs are revealed to be lying on the floor around David) presumably extended family sneak in to see Bruce.

David: You've had a terrible accident.

Bruce: Perhaps you should leave now.

David: (cut to him about to leave) We're gonna have to watch that temper of yours.

NC: (smiling) Yes, Lord knows, this really seems like a guy who flies off the handle!*

  • The review seems to skip the scene of Bruce shouting "Get out!" at David, which prompts the latter to say the above line

Bruce: I'll be fine.

NC: Whoa, hey! Watch it! That faint whisper almost turned into a dull roar!

(Betty sees her father General Ross (now Sam Elliott) at a restaraunt)

NC (vo): Connelly agrees to meet with her father, played by Sam Elliott- (At the window, a car is seen moving) Whoa, a car!!

NC: Sorry, this movie's so dull, I confuse that for an action sequence.

NC (vo): ...who is also interested in their scientific discoveries.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.