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THE HULK

When he gets mad, genetic scientist Bruce Banner turns into a slimy green monster, thereby creating severe problems for his sensitive sweetheart and for his dad, a man with an identity crisis all his own.

CAST: Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Josh Lucas, Nick Nolte, Paul Kersey, Cara Buono, Todd Tesen, Kevin O. Ranklin, Celia Weston, Mike Erwin, Lou Ferrigno, Stan Lee

DIRECTOR: Ang Lee

 

"Incredibly long, incredibly tedious, incredibly turgid. As for the grumpy green giant himself, I'm sorry to say that he is not very credible at all… Like the raging Hulk himself, a computer-generated Gumby on steroids who comes into full daylight view only after what feels like a whole mini-series' worth of earnest exposition, the movie is bulky and inarticulate, leaving behind a trail of wreckage and incoherence…Themes and emotions that should stand out in relief are muddied and cancel one another out, so that no central crisis or relationship emerges…Mr. Bana is so mopey and indistinct that it is hard to remember him from one scene to the next. His lack of emotional presence is overcompensated by Ms. Connelly's weepiness, Mr. Elliott's brush-cut grouching and Mr. Nolte's maniacal fulminations." --A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"Petulant rather than angry, the movie Hulk manages all the fury of a brooding high school wrestler…Nearly devoid of complex physical expression, the digital face can twist into a plastic snarl but has none of the pure animal rage — that shrieking baboon intensity, those spittle-flecked gnashing teeth — that makes the pen-and-ink portrayal so fearsome. Ang Lee pays direct homage to the sentimentalism of monsters like King Kong and Frankenstein, but doesn't tap into the irrational molten core of the best monsters — his Hulk gets unwound, never unbound… the Oedipal machinations are a drag. However clever, the film's ‘Freud for Dummies’ subtext seems calculated to tickle the fancies of middle-age movie critics whose closest encounter with comics arrives with the latest issue of the New Yorker… However enormous, there is something diminished about this Hulk. I kept expecting a dog to come along and scoop him up in his mouth — a runaway squeaky toy back where he belonged." --Manohla Dargis, The Los Angeles Times

"Viewed strictly as a thrill ride, ‘The Hulk’ isn’t a pop sensation, and some of Lee’s seriousness is more glum than resonant. But it’s an honorable, if highly uneven, attempt to make a ‘personal’ movie derived from the most improbable of sources…After a movie like ‘The Matrix: Reloaded,’ with all its Jungian and Hegelian hoo-ha, it’s almost endearing to watch a movie so simplistically Freudian…Lee, with his cinematographer, Frederick Elmes, who shot Blue Velvet, has created a few sequences that are almost unreasonably terrifying, especially one in which the Hulk clings for his life to a jet as it zooms into the stratosphere…perhaps the most elegantly shot, and certainly the most disturbing, of the recent fantasy films." --Peter Rainer, New York Magazine

"This messy, disappointing, self-important and utterly humorless version of the Marvel comic book character may be the toughest flick with a green protagonist to sit through since ‘The Grinch’…The movie's multiple failures significantly begin with the Hulk himself, a downright silly looking, computer-generated figure…After an hour of incredibly slow-moving exposition -- dragged out by the pointless use of split screens -- the last 80 minutes is devoted mostly to the Hulk being chased by more helicopters than ever seen outside a Jerry Bruckheimer movie… Bana, who was outstanding in the Aussie flick ‘Chopper,’ barely registers, while Connelly, in her first movie since winning an Oscar for ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ has little to do but play a weeping Beauty to the Hulk's Beast in a failed attempt to evoke ‘King Kong.’" --Lou Lumenick, The New York Post

"Director Ang Lee's new translation, one of the summer's more anticipated films, is softer, artier and more precociously intellectual than the comic book ever was…we get the cartoon character as a kind of Green Hamlet, his father's sins being at the root of his particular talent/affliction and the entire Hulkian experience as an experiment in Oedipal overkill…no dad is badder than Dr. David Banner, played with hand- wringing insanity by Nick Nolte, as the scientist who passed on his twisted genetic legacy to his son and returns years later to participate in the ensuing mayhem. Nolte supplies ‘The Hulk’ with what it often desperately needs -- a cartoon character, one with melodrama and a sense of the absurd. It's a mixed bag, this ‘Hulk,’ but Nolte is a scream." --John Anderson, Newsday

"… another mindless but entertaining piece of cinematic comic-book technology that is short on coherence and big on everything else that inflates opening-week grosses and packs them in at the mall…like all comic-book flicks, ‘The Hulk’ is not about acting, so the impressive cast is hugely wasted, but do check out the weird, hysterical and howling histrionics of Mr. Nolte. Instead of treating ‘The Hulk’ like the overpaid job it is, he works the role of a babbling old nutcase like it was King Lear. Looking like a cadaverous Albert Einstein stoned on hallucinogenic mushrooms, he misses the fun, overcompensating for the material’s intellectual paucity in a kick-ass riot of bad acting." --Rex Reed, The New York Observer

"…fabulous special effects, great action sequences and a genuine sense of experiencing a comic book in a motion-picture format…But I wanted more. I expected more. The filmmakers said it was going to be smart -- really smart -- like all of Lee's movies. Instead, it's big, dumb and fun…the Hulk is more Godzilla than Frankenstein's monster, more deranged Jolly Green Giant than Jekyll and Hyde…Jennifer Connelly gives us the only convincing human in the story, and Nolte is great fun as the mad dad, at least until his inner Macbeth is unleashed and he whips up an expectorating storm of overacting. The best that can be said for newcomer Bana is that he plays a dull character with great conviction." --Jack Mathews, The New York Daily News

"Ang Lee's ‘Hulk’ is the most talkative and thoughtful recent comic book adaptation...The film has its share of large-scale action sequences, as rockets are fired at the Hulk and he responds by bringing down helicopters...But these scenes are secondary in interest to the movie's central dramas, which involve the two sets of fathers and children… this is a comic book movie for people who wouldn't be caught dead at a comic book movie." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"He's not the Hulk I remember, he's King Kong on nuclear bananas... And this computer-generated being, who can resist the full might of the American military, doesn't seem to have a trace of humanity. The special-effects fluidity isn't always on the money, either. When the Hulk lifts and tosses vehicles away, for example, they whiz into the distance with all the trajectory realism of a cheap video game…You wonder if someone's geeky nephew did the special effects in a basement on his Mac…In the end, we don't know what we're watching, an art-house superhero film or a computer-generated ‘King Kong.’ By trying to please both sensibilities, the filmmakers have pleased neither." --Desson Howe, The Washington Post

"Predictably, and regrettably, he's as monotonous and monosyllabic on the screen as in the comic-book pages that spawned him…The silliest bits -- with the Hulk jumping through the US desert like some sort of superfrog -- recall the gravity-defying choreography of Lee's ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,’ a hit ‘Hulk’ would surely like to emulate… His crafty use of split screens, unexpected scene transitions, and hallucinatory images is worth watching even when the plot runs short on ideas…Always energetic and sometimes cockamamie enough to be genuinely fun, ‘Hulk’ is the blockbuster to beat this season." --David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor