The Hulk


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Check out he Masked Reviewer's crystal ball review, written in March.


"Hulk -- Smash!"

The Hulk
The Masked Reviewer

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.

But, even 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 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 passionate.

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, not dead.)

The Cons: Everything else.  Completely unconvincing computer generated Hulk, convoluted ending, no spectacular or memorable scenes.  Too much talky, too little smashy.



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