Ok, you’ve by now all seem Paul Fischer’s glowing review for “Hulk” – opening this weekend – in which our boy say’s it’s ‘the best film of the year’, but I had the chance to check out the green machine myself this morning, so now I’d like to distribute my judgment. In addition, we’ve also done a shoot-round the web to see what others are saying.
Hulk [ 3 stars]
Another day, another comic book movie – Nothing that special considering the cinema’s been full of them for the last couple of years. So what’s “Hulk” got that say, “X Men”, “Spiderman” or [dare I say it] “Daredevil” hasn’t?
That I’m afraid will be ultimately assessed by the many fans of the comic, who’ve been waiting restlessly to see if Director Ang Lee can unfalteringly replicate one of nerdom’s favourite comics – and consequently, beloved TV Series – for the silver screen. But Hollywood’s done a miraculous job with “X Men”, “Spider-Man”, and before them, “Batman” and “Superman” – what could possibly go wrong?
Kooky rebel scientist David Banner, experimenting in genetic modification, gets a kick in the teeth when his wife gives birth to a baby that may be affected his research. A second blow comes in the form of the man’s boss, a military commander, who tosses the scientist out of his own lab, upon the discovery that it’s “all gone a little too far”.
Banner rushes home to rid the burden that his child will carry, but instead unintentionally ends the life of his wife.
Flash forward a few years down the track. Scientist Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) follows inadvertently in his father’s footsteps as a researcher in genetic technology. He remembers zip about those first four years of his life – believing his parents were killed – and thank god, he’d be a rather screwed up chap if he did.
He and scientist girlfriend, Betty Ross [Jennifer Connelly] have started attracted the interest of a few folks to their research. Betty’s estranged father, Gen. Ross (Sam Elliott), and rival researcher Glenn Talbot (Josh Lucas). And that new night Janitor [Nick Nolte] also looks suspiciously like Bruce’s pop, David Banner.
When Bruce finds himself open to the elements to an incurable dose of gamma radiation, he doesn’t kick it, in fact, he does the exact opposite, he not only withstands the gammas, but transforms into a giant emerald inexorable hunk of man…or is it creature?
With his girl’s pop planning a military strike to annihilate the monster, Banner’s only going to get angrier and angrier, and in doing so, grows larger and larger, and more deadly by the minute. In turn, digging a big hole for himself. Who’s going to be the one to calm him down?
The evident main dissimilarity between this multi-million dollar “Hulk” epic and the Lou Ferrigno starring TV Series of the same name is the riches. Whilst the enjoyment of the series was watching Bill Bixby turn into [merely by ripping off his shirt and cutting to a large actor painted in green] The Hulk, that’s all been thrown out the window here in favour of some admirable but over-the-top CGI effects. Gone is the human element of the character [underneath we could still see that we was a human] and in his place, a ‘Shrek’ like creature that can fly through the air, scale buildings and shatter missiles. Sam Raimi, Director of last year’s “Spider-Man” managed to do both – make an expensive gob-smacking superhero movie, whilst still remaining true to the no-frills look and fun shtick of the original serial. Unfortunately, The Hulk’s a harder character to conceptualize – and it shows with the filmmakers here restoring to the ‘more is better’ variety than keeping it simple. At first the Hulk is introduced in near darkness, so the viewer can slowly get adjusted to his look. Then, he’s unleashed in all his glory, unfortunately looking more two-dimensional than he had to be. It’s a gob smacking creation – but more video-game than feature fodder.
But Lee also gets ambitious in the plot department. There’s so much connive here it almost dampens the fun and spirit of the comic book movie that’s supposed to be on offer. Ok, so it’s good to have a little bit of back grounding, but not to the point where an hour and a half of the movie is taken up with psycho-babble, with only a good half hour left to get to the action itself. Even then, he dampens proceedings by adding a truly degrading finale and minor plot-points that comic book aficionados will be up in arms over. Where’s the scissors when you need them?
But to the film’s merit, they’ve cast perfectly. Sam Elliot is a spot-on General Ross, though a little more sympathetic than his comic counterpart (?), Josh Lucas a perfectly smarmy Glen Talbot, Nick Nolte gives it his best as senior Banner, Jennifer Connelly an adorable Betty Ross, and finally Eric Bana, looking quite the part as Bruce Banner. Bana still looks a little uneasy over there in Hollywood, and his performance borderlines on slightly wooden, but in this case, he can get away with it. And it’s a plum part indeed.
“Hulk” isn’t a total mess, it has its moments – the effects will at least keep you watching and the performances are strong – but folks read a comic for enjoyment, not to admire how well the pictures are drawn, and the same axiom can be directed here with audiences likely to admire the work that’s gone into this film – rather than joyously enjoying the film itself.
It’ll make lots of ‘Green’, but the “Hulk” won’t be a ‘smash’ in everyone’s eyes.
Ok, checking about the web, seems my opinion is quite similar to most…effects-wise it’s just ok, story wise it’s good but lingers…
ComingSoon.net says: ”I also found myself growing very tired of the comic book panel-style editing job that ran throughout the movie. This is where a lot of split screen shots are used, jamming three, sometimes four different images on the screen at the same time. Sometimes even of the same thing from different angles. It is a cool effect in moderation, but very tiring on the eyes in a two-hours plus feature film”.
E Online says: “You can argue that he spends too long on it, but his effort–and cool layered frame style and wipes–should be admired, making this one of the most artistic, intelligent comic-book films to date.”
Rolling Stone says: “Lee’s technique is impeccable, but he’s chasing more inner demons than one creature feature can handle. No wonder the audience cheers when TV Hulk Lou Ferrigno shows up for a cameo”
CNN says: “My connection to our misunderstood muscle-bound hero kept coming and going. Sometimes, I bought it. More often, well, the Hulk looked like a cartoon”.
The Los Angeles Times says: “The monster’s monstrosity is even less persuasive. Petulant rather than angry, the movie Hulk manages all the fury of a brooding high school wrestler. Inexplicably, he also looks younger the bigger he grows, which undermines the idea that it’s an adult who’s shedding his skin and social prohibitions to embrace (willingly or not) his worst self. Nearly devoid of complex physical expression, the digital face can twist into a plastic snarl but has none of the pure animal rage — that shrieking baboon intensity, those spittle-flecked gnashing teeth — that makes the pen-and-ink portrayal so fearsome”
JoBlo says: “The film’s first hour felt a little redundant at times and took too long to get going. We know what’s going to happen already, dude…how many times do we need to see this nerd sitting in front of his computer before he goes green!!”
Meantime, USA Today Talked to Director Ang Lee who revealed that a “Hulk 2” is being talked about as we speak.
“Hulk producer Avi Arad already has the film’s screenwriter/producer, James Schamus, working hard on Hulk 2. Schamus says his script further delves into Bruce Banner’s epic struggle with his inner demons, resulting in the emergence of an evil, gray-hued Hulk. Shamus says he’s toying with the idea of incorporating two possible villains: The Leader (described by Lee as "a giant-head brainiac") and The Abomination ("a big ugly guy the same size as the Hulk"). But will Lee return to direct? "Maybe," he says, but first "I need to de-Hulk this process."