True Believers and comic-book fans, there's plenty to enjoy in "The Hulk" the feature length film adaptation that opens Friday. Besides giving us Bay Area citizens more reason to gloat about our scenic vistas that provide the backdrop for "The Hulk's" adventures, the overall visual style of "The Hulk" is a refreshing bit of eye candy to behold.
Under Ang Lee's direction, "The Hulk" look takes its cue directly from its comic book roots using paneled windows that lead the eyes across the screen. It's a novel approach reading the story this way and it translates one of the unique aspects of comic book storytelling into matinee bliss.
Now if only the movie was based on a better issue of "The Hulk". While there are some entertaining moments, at times "The Hulk" drifts and drags into some murky territory. The movie provides a new angle for "The Hulk's" origins involving a convoluted mix of dysfunctional family drama and a connection between Bruce Banners present and past. The plots pacing meanders along waiting for the next insurgence of special effects to wake its audience back up. To make things worse, "The Hulk" is littered with numerous gory reminders why animal testing is evil and cruel and even if the mutant poodle attack is funny at first, its grizzly ending leaves you cold.
At least "The Hulk" is well cast and actors like Nick Nolte seems to be having a great time onscreen with his role as the crazed father figure who's genetic experiments go out of control. Eric Banna aptly provides the tormented puppy dog eyes for Bill Bixby's old role of Bruce Banner "The Hulks'" alter-ego.
Yet despite the casting choices "The Hulk" is filled with a host of inconsistent characters that seem to change their identity along the way. We meet Betty Ross, portrayed by the always-appealing Jennifer Connolly who loses her shine as we see her character go from being a capable scientist working with Bruce on a Gamma Radiation project turn into a damsel in distress who's idea of helping her ailing boyfriend out is by turning him over to Sam Elliot who plays her distant military dad bent on imprisoning "The Hulk" forever. With that kind of help, "The Hulk" doesn't need enemies!
"The Hulk" offers an exciting visual direction for the superhero movie to take, and despite the potholes in the storyline, it will provide a couple of hours of effects laden air conditioned entertainment for the summer months ahead. Old school "Hulk" fans should be sure to keep you eyes peeled for the seasons funnest cameos as Stan Lee and Lou Ferrigno walk by, I know I will!
For Movie Magazine this is Purple.
© 2003 - Purple - Air Date: 6/18/03
USA - 2003