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The Hulk

Composed and Produced by:
Danny Elfman
Conducted by:
Pete Anthony
Orchestrations Supervised by:
Steve Bartek
Vocals by:
Natacha Atlas

Release Date:
June 17th, 2003

Also See:

Planet of the Apes

Incredible Hulk (TV)

Audio Clips:

1. Main Titles (0:30), 151K hulk1.ra

5. Captured (0:32), 160K hulk5.ra

12. The Truth Revealed (0:31), 156K hulk12.ra

13. Hulk's Freedom (0:34), 169K hulk13.ra


  Regular U.S. release.




The Hulk

Audio | Availability | Viewer Ratings | Tracks | Viewer Comments | Notes & Quotes
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Filmtracks Recommends:

Buy it... if you are enough of a Danny Elfman fan to enjoy all of the chances that he takes with his music, even if the resulting score is stylistically unfocused.

Avoid it... if you enjoyed the heroic elements off Spider-Man but were hoping for dramatism in The Hulk that reached back to Elfman's glory days.

Filmtracks Editorial Review:

The Hulk: (Danny Elfman) Sometimes, you occasionally have to wonder what would happen if a film score composer somehow got zapped by a Gammasphere machine. That was a thought that came to mind for many fans of composer Danny Elfman... fans who heard a return of his superhero music in Spider-Man but wanted something more... beefy. Enter The Hulk. Spawned from the old Marvel comic and a cultish 1970's television show, the first film adaptation of the character was presented to Taiwanese-born Ang Lee, the acclaimed director behind Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Sense and Sensibility. The feeling of the studio was that Lee would use his strongly rooted sense of drama to keep The Hulk as character-driven as possible, without allowing the film to digress into a CGI spectacle. Ironically, the studio eventually claimed that there wasn't enough action --not to mention a fan uproar about a rather fake-looking CGI hulk-- and Lee pulled his hair out in frustration over the project. Thus, by the time Danny Elfman walked onto the project, the film was in various stages of discontent and reworking of CGI effects. Elfman is certainly qualified for the job of scoring the duo-personality super-hero freak. If Spider-Man wasn't evidence enough, then any film score collector will kindly point you to Batman as one of the composer's finest works. If any criticism had been leveled against Elfman's recent large-scale action scores, it has typically related to watered-down themes and a wandering focus. Interestingly, The Hulk would offer Elfman the chance to score a film rich with Ang Lee dramatism, which is not a combination you could have imagined several years ago. The Ang Lee angle would perhaps bring an odd sense of cultural influence over Elfman's score, one that may sink or float the effort for his fans.

Off the bat, listeners should beware that there exists no overpowering theme for scientist Bruce Banner and his angry alter ego. Nor, along those lines, is there a particularly gripping theme for his (ex)girlfriend Betty Ross and the passion that Banner feels towards her. Instead, Elfman establishes a handful of motifs that he twists into several variations to bring distinction to The Hulk. One of these is a lightly cascading, tingling woodwind motif that represents the science behind Banner's dilemma; this motif grows with intensity as he turns green, of course. The same formula can be applied to the vocals of female singer Natacha Atlas, whose performances have a Middle-Eastern edge (partly because of how her contribution was written by Elfman, and partly because of the natural inflection in her voice). Mirroring the vocals are a strangely mixed series of performances by (what sounds like) a duduk during the more reflective moments of emotional contemplation, including the beautiful "Truth Revealed" cue. When you think of the hulk, an Armenian flute is not exactly the first instrument to come to mind. But then again, we are talking about an Ang Lee film, and this is where your mind can twist up in a knot if you attempt to analyze this score with any great detail. Elfman's finished product is an American action score with a definitive Middle-Eastern edge. It does have moments of basic, pounding, orchestral blasts, without theme or a respite from its powerful percussion. But unless Banner is at his angriest, lifting up vehicles and tossing them around San Francisco, the score is ethnically off-center. Even some of those action scenes are recorded with percussive elements that make you think that the military is on an elephant hunt in Africa! The San Francisco Bay Area is indeed an ethnic melting pot, and most audiences probably wouldn't recognize Armenian music even if they were in Armenia. And yet, if you've heard enough scores (like Mychael Danna's recent Ararat, which is not something that the Hulk should bring back memories of), then the vocals and duduk may be an awkward surprise.

Thus, in the end, without a strong theme and anchored by several Middle-Eastern passages, The Hulk just doesn't work. The large orchestral sequences often resort to cliche chord progressions, simple rhythms, and droning bass that washes out all of the mid-level instruments of the playing group. The only exhilarating action cue is the opening of "Hulk's Freedom," which presents the only notable fast-paced version of the monster's theme. If you wanted to make the score into the truly melancholy endeavor that would represent the pitiful emotional stress that Banner feels in an urban atmosphere, then perhaps the duduk could have been replaced by a saxophone. Or, if you wanted to make him into a genuinely gentle giant at heart, then maybe a highly emphasized trumpet or recorder performance (both are popular to the ears of pop culture these days) would have serviced the character. As is, the duduk is curious enough to throw the score off course, but is mixed too softly to make a significant, positive impact. The entire recording was mixed into a very dry, dull sound. Additionally, unless the female vocals are solely meant to represent the Betsy Ross character, then it's hard to figure why a classy male vocalist wasn't employed instead. If you can throw aside the popularity of female vocals for a moment, then it could have been a very effective change to hear a wordless male vocalist represent Banner's emotions. At any rate, the score simply fails to get the heart pounding. A very healthy hour of music is available on the album release, and much of the middle section of the score drags considerably with pleasant, if not misplaced underscore. The song at the end is grossly mismatched with the score (unless Elfman had chosen the more obvious electric guitar route, which he did not), and is written and performed by an eclectic collection of men from Guns N' Roses, Stone Temple Pilots, and Suicidal Tendencies --a group that has not yet officially chosen a final, working name. The song is a regrettable heavy metal finale to a largely flat and uninspiring score. Elfman offers some adequate action underscore, but throws the project off balance with his selection of styles and instruments. **

   Viewer Ratings:
    Average: 2.81 Stars
    **** 157
    *** 425
    ** 388
    * 481
    (View the results for all titles)

   Track Listings:
Total Time: 63:50
    • 1. Main Titles (4:36)
    • 2. Prologue (4:38)
    • 3. Betty's Dream (2:14)
    • 4. Bruce's Memories (2:45)
    • 5. Captured (3:41)
    • 6. Dad's Visit (2:15)
    • 7. Hulk Out (4:00)
    • 8. Father Knows Best (3:34)
    • 9. ...Making Me Angry (4:02)
    • 10. Gentle Giant (1:02)
    • 11. Hounds of Hell (3:47)
    • 12. The Truth Revealed (4:19)
    • 13. Hulk's Freedom (2:36)
    • 14. A Man Again (7:48)
    • 15. The Lake Battle (4:32)
    • 16. The Aftermath (0:56)
    • 17. The Phone Call (1:34)
    • 18. End Credits (1:13)
    • 19. Set Me Free - heavy metal song (4:09)

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   Notes and Quotes:
    Insert includes no extra information about the score or film, but does unfold into a scary mini-poster for the film.

All artwork and sound clips from The Hulk are Copyright © 2003, Decca/Universal. Its appearance on this site is for informational, non-profit use, and may not be redistributed without their expressed written consent. RA sound format and logo are Copyright © Real Audio and can be heard using a Real Audio Player. Page created 6/8/03, updated 6/9/03. Review Version 4.0 - PHP (Filmtracks Publications). Copyright © 2003, Christian Clemmensen. All rights reserved.