Australian Council on Children and the Media

Hulk, The

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Short takes

Not recommended under 13 (Viol. Themes.)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Hulk, The
  • a review of Hulk, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 26 June 2003.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 The violence and horror images presented throughout the Hulk makes this film inappropriate for children under the ages of thirteen years.
Children over the age of 13 In general, children over the age of thirteen years should be able to cope with the filmu2019s violence and horror, and be able to view the film without parental supervision. However adult supervision provides parents with an opportunity to discuss and debrief any concerns children may have as a result of viewing the film. The scene involving the attack of the mutated dogs is the one of most concern, and may leave disturbing images in the minds of some early adolescents.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Hulk, The
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Low level violence, Mature themes
Length 138 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Hulk is an action adventure movie staring Eric Bana as Bruce Banner (the Hulk), Nick Nolte as David Banner (the Hulk’s father), Jennifer Connelly as Betty Ross, (an old girlfriend and fellow scientist), Sam Elliott as General Ross (Betty’s father and head of military), and Josh Lucas as Glenn Talbot (military nasty man).

The film begins with David Banner, conducting genetic manipulation experiments in the seventies for the US military. Frustrated with military red tape, David Banner injects himself with gene altering serum, with the resulting mutated genes being passed onto his son Bruce (Hulk). When the miliary realises that David Banner is conducting prohibited experiments on humans, his research is suspended. Unable to cope with the shutdown, David Banner destroys the military base and accidentally kills his wife leaving the four-year old Bruce Banner to be raised by adoptive parents.

Following the destruction of the military base, the film goes forward thirty years to find Bruce Banner, a brilliant scientist creating gene manipulation technology similar to that of his, assumed dead, father. While conducting experimental research, Bruce is exposed to what would normally be a lethal dose of gamma radiation, but he survives the ordeal unscathed, or so it appears. However, the gamma radiation sets off a change reaction within Bruce, which finally results in the transformation of Bruce Banner into the Hulk and the destruction of Bruce’s lab by the enraged Hulk.

The following day sees the US military arrive at Bruce’s house with the intention of arresting him. However Bruce, after some altercation with military personnel, transforms into the Hulk and makes his escape. The Hulk heads straight for Betty’s house, arriving just in the nick of time to save Betty from being torn apart by three huge, vicious mutated dogs. The following morning Bruce, now back to his old self, on answering a knock at the door is shot in the arm with a tranquilliser dart, packed up by the military and flown to a military base in the middle of the desert. While attempting to conduct experiments on the Hulk, the military misjudge his capabilities and the Hulk’s escapes. The Hulk is pursued across the desert by tanks, helicopters and jets, all of which are destroyed by the Hulk without a single loss of human life. The Hulk mountain jumps all the way to San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge where he is again attacked by the might of the military.

After finally being subdued by Betty in the street of San Francisco, the Hulk transforms back to the mild mannered Bruce Banner. Imprisoned by the military, Bruce is reunited with his father, for one last visit, however, during the visit Bruce’s father transforms into a mutation of worse proportions than the Hulk and the pair end up fighting it out at a deserted lake. In the end, the military have the last say by firing a nuclear missile at the pair supposedly destroying both the Hulk and his father.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Violence is featured throughout the film. While violence is not specifically glamorised, it is presented as the main means of either achieving the desired goal, or solving confrontation. The only exception to this was the heroine of the film Betty, who continuously argued for peaceful solutions.

The violence presented through out the film was portrayed by three separate parties:

  • the Hulk uses violence as a means of self defence.
  • the military use violence as a means to an end, to intimidate and threaten, and as a means to gain control of a situation. However, it usually resulted in the military losing control of the situation or making the situation worse.
  • David Banner’s use of violence is presented as an insane man’s means of gaining revenge and power.

Only twice were the real life consequences of violence discussed or presented in the film. On both occasions it was in respect to violence enacted by the Hulk. At no time did the film present the real life consequences of violence resulting from the actions of the US military or of David Banner. For example, no real life consequences were shown of the military blowing up half of San Francisco Bay, turning city streets into a war zone, detonating a nuclear device over a US lake, or the flow on effects of David Banner killing a night guard.

The use of violence was totally dominated by male characters with the most helpless and innocent victim being the film’s heroine Betty.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

There are numerous visual images presented throughout which are capable of frightening children under five years including:

  • images of Bruce’s father losing control and destroying his lab
  • a verbal argument between Bruce’s parents
  • an exploding frog
  • Bruce Banner’s face gripped with rage
  • the Hulk shown smashing office equipment, walls etc and then jumping through the building’s ceiling
  • Bruce Banner being assaulted by a military nasty man, and then the Hulk throwing him through the window of Bruce Banner’s house
  • three huge mutated dogs being sent to kill Betty. The dogs were three times the size of normal dogs, had maddening eyes, huge bulging muscles and huge gapping jaws. Images of the dogs attacking Betty smashing through the car windows etc. The dogs tore at the neck and flesh of the Hulk, who punched, beat them and threw them around, finally killing them
  • David Banner attempting to kill four-year-old Bruce with a kitchen carving knife ending in his father accidentally killing his mother
  • Bruce Banner being punched and beaten by the military’s nasty man
  • the Hulk being experimented on while trapped within an isolation tank
  • a furiously enraged Hulk breaking free of an isolation tank
  • a military nasty man attempting to use a large drill to drill a hole into the forehead of the Hulk
  • the Hulk crashing through and smashing up buildings and equipment
  • the military’s nasty man being vaporised by a misfired missile
  • the Hulk being chased and shot at by military helicopters, tanks and jets, this involved missiles and cluster bombs being fired at the Hulk, and the Hulk being repeatedly shot with machine gun bullets
  • the Hulk picking up and smashing military tanks and helicopters on the ground, after first shaking the inhabitants out
  • missiles exploding in San Francisco Bay
  • the Hulk rampaging through the streets of San Francisco uplifting street roads and overturning trams and cars etc
  • both Bruce and David Banner being electrocuted (lots of lightening, noise and explosions) followed by David Banner transforming into a grotesque looking energy absorbing mutant
  • a brutal battle between the Hulk and the mutated David Banner involving lots of explosions, mountains falling down, water eruptions etc ending with images of a nuclear missile being exploded over the two titans.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be scared by the scenes described above.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be scared by the scenes described above.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

In general early adolescents should be capable of acknowledging the visual images listed above as fictional. However, the computer generated images involving the attack of the three mutated dogs is presented in a very realistic manner, and the attack is particularly vicious. In particular these visual images may leave a lasting impression that some early adolescents may find disturbing.

Sexual references

None of concern.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern.

Use of substances

The Hulk contained one scene involving alcohol consumption. This involved Betty and Bruce drinking a beer together after work. Reference was made to the fact that only one beer was consumed by each and that the alcohol had affected Betty’s behaviour.

Coarse language

None of concern.

In a nutshell

The main take home theme is that of good versus evil: the Hulk is good and the evil are the mad scientists and the military.

Parents may wish to discuss how in the film, the real bad guy is not necessarily that which appears as a monster, such as the Hulk, but that which appears handsome, respectable and safe, such as scientists and the military. Be aware that very young children will not be able to understand this visual anomaly.

Parents may also wish to discuss the male dominated and gender unequal nature of the film and that this is not a true representation of reality.

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