Worth A Look: 30.04%
Pretty Bad: 14.65%
Total Crap: 24.91%
14 reviews, 189 user ratings
by Chris Parry
If someone comes up to me tomorrow and says, "Here's a hundred million, go make a movie about Hawkman," I know right off the bat what sort of movie I'm going to make. It won't be for adults. It won't be for thinkers. It will have lots of flying, lots of bullets, some cool supervillains and an updating of Hawkman's outfit. It will be made for teenage boys who only care about video games, boobs, explosions and boobs. And it will make $300m. There's simply no margin in making superhero movies for adults, unless they're filled with orcs and elves - Lesson #1 for Ang Lee.Lesson #2 will be 'pick your editing and sound mixing employees wisely', since failing to do so means an early effects-free copy of your film will end up online, being downloaded by Harry knowles wannabe's who will take great delight in telling the world your film sucks.
"A comicbook movie for adults.. that was Ang Lee's first mistake."
Lesson #3 will be 'Eric Bana can't do an American accent worth a damn'. I'd have thought after Blackhawk Down the entire world would have understood this concept, but it seems I was wrong.
Lesson #4 is 'if your ending takes an IQ of more than 75 to figure out, you've got to try again.' Ang could really used that advice when making Hulk.
And the final lesson (at least without buying the Movie Professor Make a Successful Box Office Smash CD-rom for $9.95 plus postage and handling) is 'mutant poodles = not scary'.
So Hulk is green and he gets big when he's angry. And the US government wants to either breed a lot of him, or kill him, or both. He'd prefer they did neither. That's really as much story as you need, to be honest.
Eric Bana is Bruce Banner, a scientist who moonlights as the Hulk when he's not exploding frogs in lab tests. Actually, being The Hulk doesn't pay well and the benefits suck ass, but you do get to break stuff and occasionally shag Jennifer Connelly, which I guess is as good a perk as anyone gets while working for the government nowadays.
Connelly is Betty (in fact, she's a TOTAL Betty), the girl who grew up alongside our Bruce and followed him into the scientific scene. Together they're developing some sort of healing treatment that makes gashes in the sides of frogs heal really quickly. Until they blow up, of course. Slight side effect issue there, but nothing that couldn't be explained away with a few TV commercials compelling you to 'ask your doctor whether the Green Pill is right for you.'
But the Army is the Army, and when Bruce and Betty's experimental fun starts looking promising, they send in the corporate assholes to take over so that the technology can be sold to third world farmers all over the world by Monsanto.
Okay, so I'm only partially telling the truth, but the story here is so standard and blah, trust me, what I'm giving you is totally more entertaining, and even realistic if you keep up with the news.
But let's skip the details and get to the meat. Eric Bana should never play an American character - ever. Bana fell ass backwards into the Hollywood big time by starring in the criminally underseen Chopper while making a decent living as a stand-up comedian in Australia. In Chopper, playing a character that he understands and shares an accent with, Bana is unbelievable. Impeccable. Outstanding.
But playing an American, he sounds like the lead singer of Roxette pretending to be from Louisiana. He sounds like Stuart Mackenzie from So I Married an Axe Murderer pretending he's Italian. He sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger reading the poetry of Keats. Are you following?
But to be fair, the screenwriting in Hulk is abominable. That may be barely surprising when you learn that a writer from the Crow: Stairway to Heaven TV series (John Turman) joined the scribe of Cliffhanger (Michael France) to pen the vast majority of the piece. Of course, Lee brought in his old faithful pen-man, James Schamus, to try to make the save, but you can't make lemonade out of nothing but lemons.
Hulk is, for the most part, equal parts boring, stunning, disappointing and compelling. The cast are as drab and uneven as any superhero cast have been since Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones went at it with Batman, the story plods along at a snails pace before shifting right into fifth and hitting you with action scene after action scene, and the climax of the whole thing is a study in futility.
What does work, at least for me, is the CGI. Sure, Hulk bounces along like his legs are filled with helium, but I can allow my suspension of disbelief to go there more than I can watch a supposedly blind Ben Affleck freefalling off a skyscraper and landing on his feet. For the most part, when Hulk smash, me there with him. When Hulk throw tank, me there with him. When Hulk stop smashing and stare into Jen Connelly's eyes, me staring too. And when Hulk wonders why everyone is trying to get all up in his shit, me wonder too.
Not only are these characters poorly portrayed, they're among the least intelligent you'll ever see. J-Conn's Betty just doesn't seem to get it that her father can't be trusted, no matter how many times he lies to her, locks up her boyfriend and tries to kill him. I guess she knows daddy is just trying to protect his little girl, but give me strength! As George Bush Jr said so famously, "Fool me once, more fool me. Fool me twice... well.. uh... You're not gonna fool me again, okay?"Ang Lee spent a lot of money making a film that doesn't really connect with many of the target audience here, and while I'll credit him for trying, he broke the first rule of responsible blockbuster filmmaking; he promised more than could be delivered - at least with a tight summer release date riding him the whole way. Rent it, fast forward through the first forty minutes, and enjoy the rest. Well, except the last ten minutes... okay, maybe give it a miss.
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originally posted: 01/05/04 14:56:29
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