“You’re making me angry…”

The Ang Lee touch was what made The Hulk–and almost unmade it. His presence is everywhere, but comes through too strongly in elements like pacing, which was so languid it felt more like The Wedding Banquet than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It may fit with theme and character development, but North American audiences generally don’t enjoy two-hour-and-fifteen-minute action movies.


Another example is Lee’s influence on the Hulk’s movements, many of which he acted out for the special effects teams at Industrial Light and Magic. He always stated he wanted the Hulk’s movements to be agile and not muscle-bound. Unfortunately, the Hulk seems far too agile to possess the mass and therefore inertia of a 1,500 pound man. His movements also show a clear martial arts influence, when the character of Bruce Banner seems awkward. My final complaint about the computer-generated character is that the special effects people still haven’t figured out that people have many superfluous movements and characters won’t seem real unless they fidget. Still, this is the most convincing CG character to date and is fun to watch for just that reason.


Beyond that, the movie was surprisingly good. The dialogue was oddly nuanced, even slipping in the occasional social observation. The obvious meaningless technobabble wasn’t too painful and the military jargon was well done.


Most surprising of all was the casting, which was exceptional. The virtually unknown Eric Bana became the brilliant and intense Bruce Banner. Sam Elliott plays the role of the General just slightly larger than life, which fits this comic book world completely, whereas Nick Nolte goes too far. Jennifer Connelly, who previously proved her acting prowess in Requiem for a Dream, is largely wasted as Banner’s girlfriend Betty Ross, but she does elevate it beyond the simple stock girl-in-distress role.


This movie would have fallen flat without the excellent special effects, but at times they seemed cartoonish; such as in all the parts where a five metre man jumps with the physics of a one millimeter flea. Even digital sound couldn’t make me believe that part. I also found it hard to believe that some people–like a certain tank commander–were tossed around like rag dolls without so much as a bruise to show for it.


And the use of green light to signify gamma radiation just irked me.


Another disturbing element was the blatant product placement of Apple computers. My favourite part of the movie was when the iMac gets crushed. Sadly, it’s later replaced with the new iMac. The feeling they were trying to sell me on something other than the special effects was disturbing.


One major plot flaw hits near the end of the movie, when a major conflict is precipitated without any explanation. I won’t spoil it for you, but if you can explain the two chair scene, let me know.


The best part of the movie (besides the obligatory Stan Lee cameo) was the exciting use of split screen action. Besides keeping with the comic book feel, it was a fresh element to bring to moviemaking and I’m thrilled they tried it in The Hulk. They need to work on some of their transitions, but overall it worked well.


The verdict? The Hulk is a good movie, exceptional in parts, but it suffers from too many small imperfections. See a matinee or wait for it to hit the cheap theatres. Oh, and don’t worry, you have time to leave and get the free refill.


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