In a time where superhero movies seem to come from the assembly line and standards are (sadly) set already it is hard to find gems that really transcend these paradigms.
Ang Lee made a different approach to the superhero genre - and the people didn't like it! Why? After Daredevil, Blade, Elektra, Aeon Flux, League of extraordinary gentlemen, Spiderman (yes, i mean it), Spawn, etc etc there are many parallels you can draw between superhero films. And Hulk is the only thing that the others aren't: un-American! In a very rare exception we have a film here that doesn't have the arrogance and straight-forward story that we seem to have gotten used to too easily.
Spiderman (in particular) follows the EXACT steps you can read in a tutorial for film making - that may be neat to watch but leaves no space for surprises or artistic inputs. Ang Lee seems to have taken especially this thought very seriously and created a piece of art that the average pop-corn-formula-film-liking movie-goer may find hard to digest. No doubt, this movie is not made for assembly-line-film-lovers - it is constructed very thoughtfully and goes beyond the interpretation of a superhero. It plays with the chaos that erupts out of the events rather than glorifying another world saviour.
There is no real good and evil, there only is an overcharge from both sides that don't know how to master the situation. The American movie-goer averagely wants black and white sides, a proud US-flag waving and a hero that saves the day (+nation and eventually the world, maybe even the universe). Nope, not in this one. While most of the other films establish superheroes as something that fits perfectly into our society, Hulk plays with the idea of what would happen if unknown uncontrolled untameable power surfaces - and that both sides act incredibly humane. At this point 80% of movie-consumers are out and 90% of movie-lovers come in (that number is small as we know).
I appreciated the rather unconventional storytelling, I admire the cast, I treasure the artistic hybrid of comic and reality and I enjoyed the portrayal of energy. Now, anyone who has seen Asian action films will find many parallels - the question is, are YOU ready to adapt to some of those standards when they are being poured over a western story? I was... And I was overwhelmed!
Anyone calling this movie the worst film they've ever seen (and there are quite few stating this) should stay with Spiderman, Transformers and Blade and get the same product over and over again (because they keep buying it). For my part I was grateful to see that there are people out there who get the chance to put a very distinctive stamp on their work making it unique and deep.
Five years later the audience won and an assembly line version was released, not as bad as some others but definitely not as creative and visionary as this one. Great job Ang!!!!!