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Movie Review: The Hulk

Story: I will force myself not to make the obvious references to this main character as the not-so jolly green giant or a guy who needs serious anger management classes.

Director Ang Lee depicts this Marvel comic book character as one who is filled with ang -uish. It seems that the Hulk's father, who was a scientist, fooled around with genetic mutations in his lab. Most of the studies were done on animals (mildly reminiscent of my last review - 28 Days Later). When not satisfied with his progress he experiments on himself. He ultimately passes the mutation on to his newborn son - who of course, becomes our Hulk. We see him as a repressed child who witnesses a traumatic event when four years old and now as an adult (who is also a scientist) when enraged - gets increasingly big, mean and green. All this happens pretty much in the first 25 minutes. So why is this film so hulkingly long?

Here's what I liked about the film. The special effects were terrific and the split screen comic book look worked just enough not to be annoying. What bothered me was that the character had no purpose. He was not an evolved mutant. I know it is a comic book but unlike Superman or Spider-man he just got big and trashed things (although that was a lot of fun to watch).

If you like big, silly summer movies, like me, check this green machine out.

Acting: Eric Bana, as the Hulk, reminded me at times of a young Christopher Reeve and for a while I thought he would morph into Superman. I was getting my comic books mixed up. Bana cannot act - unless that was the point of Lee's direction for this guy. The digital Hulk had more acting ability than the flesh and blood human. Jennifer Connelly was awful - but she is pretty. He reactions reminded me of her role as Russell Crowe's wife in A Beautiful Mind. She does teary-eyed very well. She may replace Meg Ryan in casting roles of the supportive spouse who can cry on cue. Sam Elliott was fun to watch as the General who desperately wants to kill the Hulk. And then there is Nick Nolte. Longtime Lobo readers know my affection for Nolte. He was # 1 until recently dethroned by Javier Bardem (Did you ever see The Dancer Upstairs?). Remember that recent mugshot of Nolte when he was arrested for a DWI? Well, that's the look he has in this film as the father of The Hulk. He tackled this role with the passion he usually gives a performance but I did end up chuckling quite a bit when he was on screen.

Predilections: I like big, silly summer movies - and of course, there is the Nick Nolte factor.

Critters: Oh my! The animals used in this film were once again lab experiments who do not fare well. I am very opposed to any type of animal testing so this always bothers me when depicted on film. The suffering animals were: monkeys, frogs, lizards, mice and dogs.

Food: Chinese take-out.

Visual Art: The interiors of the houses were dark so I could not see any art on the walls.

Blatant Product Placement: None that I can remember - which surprised me.

Soundtrack: Loud.

Opening Titles: Fun.

Theater Audience: One large green guy and me. I was the only one laughing.

Squirm Scale: The animals in the lab.

Predictability Level: High.

Oscar Worthy: No

Nit Picking: This film cried out for editing. It was too long.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. For rentals, try some of Ang Lee's other films such as: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Ice Storm, Sense and Sensibility, Eat Drink Man Woman and The Wedding Banquet.

Length: Two hours and 20 minutes.