|Rating: PG-13 for superhero violence and “man butt”
Starring: Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Josh Lucas, Nick Nolte
Directed By: Ang Lee
If you visit this site often, you know by now that the one who calls himself The Mike is addicted to superhero flicks. That being said, as soon as The Hulk opened he was at the theater, Superman undies on, ready to gaze in awe at another comic creature. He was not disappointed.
Ang Lee’s screen adaptation of Marvel’s The Hulk may not be the best of the recent comic films, but it is the grandest comic film we’ve seen in the past few years. Checking in at over two hours and fifteen minutes, The Hulk covers all the issues it wants to slowly and surely, while managing to remain action packed and thrilling. The longer duration also allows each of the primary characters to be truly developed. I was a little surprised by the abruptness with which the film ended, and it seemed to slow its pace a notch in the final half hour, but as a whole the film was put together correctly.
The story is not too difficult. Scientists Bruce Krenzler (Bana) and Betty Ross (Connelly) are working on an experiment involving gamma radiation when Bruce, who was orphaned at a young age and can’t recall his parents (even though we know his father experimented on himself and passed “something” on to young Bruce), is exposed to gamma rays that awaken whatever it is in him that isn’t normal. At first we’re not sure what it is, but Betty’s General Father (Elliott) and a sleazy scientist (Lucas) know that, whatever it is, they want it.
There are five primary characters to worry about that I noted above. While watching the film, my thoughts were drawn many times to comparing the film with Spider-Man and Daredevil, the two most recent Marvel adaptations. What I noticed here, was that all five of The Hulk’s primary characters were perfectly cast, while both Spider-Man and Daredevil involved casting decisions I questioned. In my inclination to compare the three films, I will say that The Hulk holds an advantage in casting over those two films. Eric Bana is perfect as Bruce Banner (that’s his real name), and is primed for greatness in Hollywood. Jennifer Connelly looks decent, and plays the disenchanted girl with a lost man similar to how she played it in A Beautiful Mind. I’d read others say that the characters are strikingly similar, and I have to agree. I was also delighted to see Nick Nolte back in a visible Hollywood role, and his presence was a great boost to every scene he was in. The biggest surprise in the cast was Lucas, who was so intelligent in A Beautiful Mind and so likable in Sweet Home Alabama, but here pulls off a sleazy villain character effectively. I didn’t expect that I would be able to accept him as a villain, but he was more than sufficient, up until his cheesy exit from the film. He too is poised to make a bigger impact in the future.
Many people I know questioned the use of CGI, and the look of The Hulk character from viewing the trailers and previews for the film. I myself started a train of criticism rolling a few months back when I referred to the image I saw as “The Incredible Shrek” (and the similarity is still visible to me, especially in the first shot we see of The Hulk in the film). But I must disagree with all the naysayers. In my opinion, the best thing that this film had going for it was the computer generated creature, which when viewed in the context of the film was exactly what the film needed. I tried several times to view the creature in a human form, as others had suggested it should be, but I quickly concluded that the look of The Hulk was perfectly done. The additional special effects were also very good, and no one should leave the theater without having fulfilled their need for a big budget type film.
This morning while reading through other reviews of this film, I found a comment that struck me when I left the film. Some guy named Roger Ebert wrote that: “This is a comic book movie for people who wouldn’t be caught dead at a comic book movie.” While I’m not a comic book fan, and I don’t mean any disrespect, I must disagree strongly with Mr. Ebert’s assumptions and stereotyping. This film looks more like a comic book than any superhero film of recent memory, especially through Lee’s (usually) excellent use of split-screen and picture-in-picture. To me, this is the perfect film for a comic fan.
Will the general public accept The Hulk as a film? I doubt it. To them it will be too long, too cheesy, and too smart to understand. But if you want a blockbuster that has a mind, along with great special effects and solid casting, then The Hulk is the summer movie to see. Check it out