directed by Ang Lee
starring Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliott
|The original Hulk, in marketing-proof grey.|
With the much-anticipated The Hulk, director Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) admirably adds dimensions to the comic legend -- making it much more than an action film. Ironically, the movie's shortcomings derive from Lee straying too far from the original, simple idea of an unstoppable anti-hero that destroys everything in his path. From Hulk's split-screen, fade-in-and-out opening minutes, it becomes apparent that Lee has done his clever best to re-create the comic book medium's frenetic pacing and visual style. The movie updates the Hulk's origin to include Bruce Banner's (Eric Bana) dangerously determined father (Nick Nolte), whose self-administered bio-chemical experiments are accidentally passed on to his son. We're soon introduced to Banner's love interest, Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly), whose father, played by Sam Elliott, is a dangerously determined Army general. Banner's and Ross' common bonds are traumatic, mostly-repressed events from their childhoods -- and nutcase fathers; it becomes clear that Hulk is not merely an adaptation of Frankenstein, but a story of coming to grips with dysfunctional father-son-daughter relationships. However, many, many minutes pass while this commendable theme is established. If these foundation-creating opening chapters were meant to build suspense for the Hulk's arrival, they don't work.
|Look son, you may not understand this now. But always go for the purple track pants.|
But, just when theater-goers are reaching the bottoms of their Hulk popcorn bags, Bruce Banner's temper gets the best of him, and his emerald alter-ego emerges for the first of the film's several CGI-fueled rampages. The Hulk can't help but attract the attention of defense-industry slimeball Glenn Talbot (Josh Lucas) -- who naturally wants to create mini-Hulks for the military -- and to get in Betty Ross' pants. Meanwhile, General Ross just wants the Hulk snuffed out. As the U.S. Army pursues the ill-tempered goliath through the Southwestern desert, the audience is treated to more of the computer-generated mayhem that they paid to see. A lot of the CGI works, especially close-ups, but some of it doesn't. The Hulk's head and limbs move too quickly for a 10-foot-plus-tall giant (in the comics, he's closer to seven feet), lending a sense of "unrealism" to some of the action. Also, the two key battle scenes -- hand-to-paw combat with Gamma-irradiated dogs, and the visually-confusing, unsatifying climax -- are staged at night, so the audience really can't see exactly what's going on. Overall, the animation is better than Ray Harryhausen's handcrafted works, but light-years away from Pixar.
|OK -- that's two steak and cheese, an Italian, and a turkey swiss. Back in a flash.|
|You call this a dressing room? And I said vegan deli platter.|
Universal: http://www.universalpictures.com The Hulk: http://thehulk.com/