it, it's entertainment!"
are films and there are movies. Hulk is a movie and an appealing
one at that.
scientist Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) works with former love Betty
Ross (Jennifer Connelly). They remain friends even though his emotional
remoteness has destroyed their relationship. But the dark forces
lying just beneath his bland exterior are close to erupting when
Banner's birth father (Nick Nolte), comes back into his life and
finally unhinge completely when a scientific accident overdoses
Bruce with gamma rays. Bruce and Betty search out their pasts in
the dusty town where they both were raised. The truth, however,
does not set Banner free, and the rest of the film deals with his
inevitable status as tormented outsider.
Bana is the perfect tabula rasa, unaware of the demons lurking
barely beneath his cool exterior. Jennifer Connelly and Sam Elliot
as her own difficult Dad, do creditable jobs. Nick Nolte chews the
scenery a bit and, yes, looks exactly like his recent Malibu mug
shot. Lee directs his actors in his usual somnambulant style, which
works more often than not, but his visuals are as extraordinary
as any in Crouching Tiger, especially Hulk's lyrical escape
to the desert. The prologue, shot in vivid color and extreme close-up,
literally drips with visuals of wet, slithery animal and human experiments.
Do not let your friend from PETA watch this part.
narrative doesn't pull any punches, either. Hulk is born into a
cruel world. When his true nature emerges, he morphs into a not-so-jolly
Green Giant and destroys pretty much anything or anyone (except
Betty) who gets in the way of his mad-on. When Banner discovers
the secret of his traumatic childhood, his own damaged nature, and
his father's callous role in each, Lee uses his full powers of exquisite
sense of composition and restrained directing to quite simply break
is a conflicted monster, cursed by his superpowers rather than ennobled.
He does not save the downtrodden, or fight for truth, justice and
the American way. Hulk gets mad -- and he eventually admits, "When
I totally lose control, I like it." Lee's Hulk resists facile pop
psychology interpretation, however. Hulk's problem is not that he
hates his father; it's that he doesn't hate him enough to kill him
when he has the chance.
borrows from familiar Monster myths, Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde,
the abandoned child, Freudian, Jungian - yada, yada, yada. It's
all there, one trope on top of the other, providing fertile ground
for graduate student papers and twitchy reviewers alike.
what you know: embrace the post-ironic It's not vitally important
why Hulk's purple pants grow, too, or which filmmaker made the best
Frankenstein. Sometimes I want to suspend my disbelief and lose
my Self at the movies. This Hulk is scary enough to send child beside
me diving into her mother's lap; and it drew at least one tear from
this hard-bitten exegete for the child who trembles wide-eyed under
every figurative table. If you think too much, you might miss it.
As a classmate of mine shouted out in a grinding lecture on film
analysis: "It's entertainment, damn it, and people like entertainment"!
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Copyright Web del Sol, 2003