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At a top secret desert base in the mid 1960s, scientist David Banner, Paul Kersey, is carrying out some unauthorised experiments on himself. When his son, Bruce, is born, David realises that the boy has been affected by these body-altering elements. Years later, Bruce, now played by Eric Bana, is a scientist himself working in nuclear bio-technology. He's just been dumped by his girlfriend and co-worker Betty, Jennifer Connelly, because she finds him emotionally cold. And then an accident in the lab triggers something long-dormant in Bruce - he becomes enormous and prodigiously powerful - he's the Hulk. Hulk stands out from all the other sci-fi films based on comic-book characters because, as directed by Ang Lee, it's so intelligent and so interesting. The character of the troubled scientist who becomes a monster is basically a variation on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Lee brings out all the pathos and the dark horror of the story, while providing each of his leading characters with monstrous father figures: Bruce's father, now played by Nick Nolte, after serving years in prison, emerges deranged and dangerous, while Betty's father, Sam Elliott, is a military man deeply involved in the tragedy of Bruce's past. The film's screenplay makes much of these oedipal issues, while it also tackles the morality of scientific exploration and even of imprisoning suspects in a desert detention centre without the proper legal requirements. But this is, in the end, still a comic-book thriller, and when Bruce becomes The Hulk he's an amazing creation (the transformations are seamlessly done). With Danny Elfman's excellent music score, some very inventive photography and editing, and fine performances all round, this is a very superior entertainment, marred only by a rather uncertain ending.

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