Sat June 21, 2003
This film should be green with envy of "Spiderman."
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
Don't even hope Ang Lee's adaptation of the Hulk comic book will be as remotely entertaining or humanistic as "Crouching Tiger." It is not. If my 15-year-old grandson, Cody, gives it a C+, and he goes into the film with the most positive attitude, then you know something is wrong.
The setup is almost 40 minutes; that is it takes that long to give background and establish the conflict, and then we see Bruce Banner (Eric Bana of "Chopper") transformed by anger into The Hulk. After some rousing sequences of Hulk bounding over the country side and engaging some mean dogs (who have the same genetic mutation) in serious video-game-like wrestling, we are left with inane interaction between Hulk and his love, Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly, "A Beautiful Mind"), and her over-the-top 5-star general father, overplayed by Sam Elliott, without handlebars on his moustache.
Watching Nick Nolte ("The Good Thief") overact as Hulk's father and bad-boy scientist is the most amusing part of the film. His hair is the same fright style immortalized by the LAPD mug shot of Nolte after his swerving Malibu run.
I'm digging here for something redeeming to say: Maybe the CGI, which handles most of Hulk's appearance, is not as phony or overpowering as some have been complaining. Also, the frequent split-screen panels simulate the comic-book experience. The monster looks realistic enough, the parallels to the Frankenstein motif are obvious, and the moments of King Kong and his love are reprised gently. Otherwise, this film should be green with envy of "Spiderman."
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE's "It's Movie Time," which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org on Thursdays at 8:01 pm and Fridays at 3:01 pm.