**/**** Image A- Sound A Extras B-
starring Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Josh Lucas
screenplay by John Turman and Michael France and James Schamus, based on the Marvel comic
directed by Ang Lee
by Walter Chaw The first in a troika of films to focus on rage as the catalyst for physiological change (the others being Danny Boyle's brilliant 28 Days Later... and Stephen Norrington's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which counts Mr. Hyde among its gentlemen) this past summer, Ang Lee's Hulk is a plodding dirge about the sins of the fathers that struggles mightily between the requirement to awe and the desire to mean something. Its story of repressed memories of abuse and reconciliation amounts to not-much when the tortured protagonist seems supremely capable of suppressing his rage, only losing control when jolted with a cattle prod or when his girlfriend is menaced by a trio of mutant hounds. An oh-so-subtle suggestion--embedded in a dream within a flashback--that emotionally distant Bruce Banner (Eric Bana in full zombie mode) may have abused his ex-girlfriend Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly) speaks to a canny chronicler of dysfunction in Lee (The Ice Storm) struggling with the demands of a film with a ridiculous budget and a level of expectation in the same stratosphere. When Betty nonsensically offers, "It must be a combination of the nanomeds and the gamma radiation," Bruce responds: "No, it's something deeper." Alas, it's not.