MSNBC Hulk Movie Review: ‘Hulk’ monster mash is a big wow

"'Hulk' has the ripped gusto of a pop myth being reinvented. It’s excessive and too long, but with exciting macho blows it pounds away at machismo."
"WHEN I TOTALLY lose control," admits the Hulk during a cool-off, "I like it."

The Hulk doesn’t merely leap tall buildings in a single bound. He springs over Wile E. Coyote canyons and falls from the upper atmosphere into San Francisco Bay and turns huge U.S. tanks into twisted toys.

Lee and the writers tap the topical, with pointed nicks of George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice. And the grand old rebel hairball Nick Nolte (as Bruce’s insane father, who jiggered the boy’s genes) gets to rail against the world Military Industrial Complex — while squelching Bana in a stage face-off that makes viewers restless.

About "The Hulk"

Quite a few viewers may get restless, expecting another sprint of juvenile junk like "2 Fast 2 Furious." And "Hulk" is more ponderous than it needs to be. It has overscaled emotions and steroid bulges of text too obvious to stand so much morbid emphasis.

It isn’t for kids, given the freight of death and father/son strife. It is for kicks, if you savor the pleasure Lee is having. From the ominous but giddy lab opening, a sinister cabaret of bubbling and computing and critter morphing, with Lee using split screens more than any ’60s wonderboy, the film invigorates its story of genetic doom by playing so effusively with its shape and rhythm.


Lee is a smart director who pushes the contours of genres, the family comedy with "Eat Drink Man Woman," the Jane Austen drama with "Sense and Sensibility," the generational soaper with "The Ice Storm," the Civil War film with "Ride With the Devil," the martial arts saga with "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Adult and adroit, with a great eye, he has sometimes seemed a little tranced by his fine taste.

That’s impossible with a Marvel monster mash, and the best energy of "Hulk" is not the destruction parties with huge dogs or buzzing helicopters. It is Ang Lee and the great David Lynch cinematographer Frederick Elmes cutting loose for a marathon looting of elements from "Frankenstein," the Bond films, "Batman," Godzilla, "Wild Wild West," "King Kong," "The Nutty Professor," "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," maybe even Hulk Hogan.

Apart from the always appealing and sensibly sexy Jennifer Connelly as Bruce’s love, "Hulk" is a rally for hulks. Male violence is a constant threat and, along with the green gladiator, there is the fireball Gen. Ross (Sam Elliott, whose virile fury sometimes gentles down to a soft rage), Josh Lucas as a corporate sadist and Nolte as the ultimate tantrum crank on a mission.

The "finis" moment should be Connelly and Bana on a San Francisco street, entwined in tenderness, encircled by guns, but "Hulk" presses on like a Wagner opera of "Fight Club." You can end up pulverized and satisfied, whipped and wowed.
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