At last, the smashy-smashiest superhero
has arrived on the big screen. Eagerly anticipated and promoted as
this summer's blockbuster, the big green meanie leaps from the pages of
the comics and serves up a heaping pile of destruction.
so...is it good? In a word...well, not really, but kinda sorta...actually,
that's a few words.
The Hulk features a computer graphic for the main character.
While the Hulk's alter-ego, Bruce Banner, is played by a real live
flesh-and-blood human (Eric Bana from Black Hawk Down), the Hulk
himself is all computers. This has grown in popularity, most
recently with Neo (in The Matrix Reloaded) and Spiderman (in
Spiderman). In those two films, however, they did occasionally
use a real person. The trouble is...it never looks convincing.
Computer graphics and animation are great, but they have not
successfully learned to make it look like a real person. They're
not even close. The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park from 10
years ago are more realistic looking than their superhero counterparts.
What you end up with is the feeling that you're watching a computer
game. In fact, in a few scenes you get to see the Hulk on a video
screen, and it looks exactly like the Xbox game.
This becomes a major issue for the film. There's never a
suspension of disbelief, and the audience is conscious of how every shot
was done. The eye isn't fooled for a second by what is real and
what is computer graphic. Had everything been computer animation,
it would've been a much better film.
The acting is top notch for a comic book film. Jennifer
Connelly (star of Labyrinth, The Rocketeer, A Beautiful Mind,
and several of the Masked Reviewer's private fantasy moments) plays her
role as Bruce's gal very seriously, but it isn't corny. Sam
Elliott and Nick Nolte are also serious yet not over-the-top. And
Eric Bana does a great "troubled quiet guy with a beast burning inside
always waiting to break free". They don't have much to work with
in terms of character, but their portrayals all seem sincere and
Nick Nolte does look an awful lot like his mug shot for his recent
DWI. Same hair. Same wild look in his eyes. Maybe he
was just preparing for the role when he got pulled over.
On to the plot. It's pretty thin. There's a lot of time
spent explaining the whole "hulkification" process, and some back story
between Sam Elliott (General Ross) and Nick Nolte (Bruce Banner's
father). As the movie goes on, it gets confusing. The Masked
Reviewer was a little bit of a Hulk fan growing up, but not a diehard
reader of the comics. There is a super-villain introduced, but his
powers aren't really clear, and his big end battle with the Hulk is just
confusing. What happened and why? Perhaps the people who've
read every comic book know, but it should've been more clear.
Strangely, the movie doesn't seem to be made for kids at all.
There's an awful lot of talking. It's not terribly interesting
talk, especially to children who don't care about Bruce's troubled
youth. It isn't until about 45 minutes into the movie that
we first see the Hulk. This was boring for many of the children in
the audience, and not that much better for the adults. The movie
feels very long.
There's a lot of violence (obviously), but some of it may be too
gruesome for kids. There's a fight involving dogs that some may
find disturbing. A couple of people get killed, too. They
didn't do a great job of making the Hulk a good guy...some innocents got
hurt along the way. Also, there's a scene of a starfish getting
cut up. The Masked Reviewer had to throw that in somewhere, and
this seems like as good a place as any.
In terms of cinematography and direction, Ang Lee (Crouching
Tiger, Hidden Dragon) did an okay job, but he seemed obsessed with
capturing the look of a comic book. There were a lot of weird
transitions between scenes. Many were reminiscent of the effects
used while going to commercials in the TV show "Home Improvement".
There were also many multi-panel split screens, which gave a vague
feeling of reading a comic book, but it was gimmicky and overused.
The scene where the Hulk swan dives off a cliff and plunges into a
waterfall at the end seemed a bit much...oh wait, wrong movie.
Lou Ferrigno and Stan Lee both got their cameos (as predicted in the
Masked Reviewer's crystal ball review).
They also worked in the "you wouldn't like me when I'm angry" line, as
predicted in the Masked Reeviewer's
crystal ball review. Upon re-reading those predictions, the
Masked Reviewer feels that his ideas for the Hulk were more
interesting than those used in The Hulk. Check out he
Masked Reviewer's crystal ball review.
As in all the recent films based on Marvel comics, the opening titles
feature a lot of representations of cellular activity (no, not the AT&T
kind, the mitochondrial kind). Cells splitting, electricity
zapping, DNA mutating. Daredevil, X-Men, and Spiderman
all had that. Enough already.
Essentially, The Hulk is an extremely forgettable film.
There aren't any supercool moments to tell your friends about. It
looks like a computer game. Ang Lee doesn't add much, and sadly,
even Jennifer Connelly with her extreme beauty doesn't make the film
compelling. It's kind of intense for kids, too. There isn't
a whole lot of humor, which even the comic had in abundance. It
lacks a coherent ending. It's kind of a let down. But it'll
do huge business because it's got a lot of promotional muscle behind it,
and many people will see it to make sure they aren't missing anything.
If you love the Hulk comic, maybe you'll enjoy this. If
you love the idea of a "Frankenstein meets Jekyll and Hyde" character,
maybe this will appeal. It lacks the fun and excitement of
Spiderman and X-Men I and II, it's sadly much more like the
mediocre Daredevil. It's not great. Despite it all,
it's guaranteed: Hulk -- Smash!
Box Office Prediction: It'll do huge opening weekend (biggest
June opening ever) and fall off very quickly. $80 million first
weekend, maybe $145 million total US
Expectation from the Title: The Louis Anderson story.
Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):
Green is a very good color for him.
The Pros: Jennifer Connelly (so beautiful), Eric Bana, Nick
Nolte, and Sam Elliott all give solid and serious performances.
Lou Ferrigno is in it (and no, he's not dead. He's deaf,
The Cons: Everything else. Completely unconvincing
computer generated Hulk, convoluted ending, no spectacular or memorable
scenes. Too much talky, too little smashy.