I got a chance to catch The Hulk on Wednesday evening. I probably would not have gone if not for the venue (it showed at the Alamo Drafthouse) and the fact that Lou Ferigno (the original, non-CG Hulk) was there in person.
A little about meeting Lou. First, the guy’s still pretty buff for being 51 years old. I thought he was pretty stand-offish. He had ‘handlers’ that we had to tell how we wanted him to sign his autograph. Then they wrote it down for him and he wrote it out. He didn’t make much eye-contact with us, and had a strange accent when he talked. I soon discovered it was because he was hard of hearing. I should mention that autographs cost $20. This on top of the $15 to see the movie. Still, he sold out both shows, and they added a third for him.
Next a little about the venue. The Alamo Drafthouse is a really fun place to see movies. They show first-run films, as well as special events, such as having Lou Ferigno in person, and Zombiefeast 2003 to kick off 28 Days Later last month. They have regular theatre seating with the exception of a table in front of each row of seats, and an aisle on the other side of the table that waiters use to bring food and drinks. They have a full menu, with pizza, burgers and sandwiches, and beverages ranging from beer and wine to sangria and Italian sodas. The whole concept works pretty well. So well, in fact that in the two months the place has been open, I’ve been to 4 movies there!
Okay, now about the movie. The story opens with Nick Nolte as a scientist for the military, looking for a method to automatically regenerate wounds in the field. He more or less gets it to work, but when the military restricts him from testing his concoction on humans, he instead tests on himself, without a lot of effect. His son, however, is another story. Flash forward twenty-some years to Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) working as a biologist who one day accidentally gets enough gama radiation to down a horse, yet survives unharmed. He of course gets angry, turns into The Hulk, destroys lots of stuff, and turns back into little Bruce. Repeat as necessary.
Overall the story was fine, and the acting was above-par for a super-hero movie. Jennifer Conelly (A Beautiful Mind) plays the love interest who sticks by her man, even though he thinks the military is out to get him (Hmm… hasn’t she played a role like that before)? Sam Elliot is great as her hard-core military father who worked with Bruce’s father, and wants to put Bruce away where he won’t hurt anyone else. I’ve never liked Nick Nolte in anything, and this is no exception. He seems to me to be a nutcase in real life, and plays the part of nutcase pretty well here, though.
The special effects are good, though I like the Hulk effect better in confined spaces better than in the wide open. He does a fine job bustin’ stuff up when indoors, but move him outside, and the physics model goes all weird. It seems that when he runs he moves faster than his legs are going, and when he jumps ludicrous distances, his launch and land doesn’t feel realistic.
And since post-9/11 and post Iraq war, we’re a kinder, gentler nation that doesn’t like to see people getting killed – especially our military. Helecopters and tanks would crash, but not explode, and people would climb out unscathed. Cars would crash, but never fear, the occupants were unhurt. In fact, I think the body count only totaled three; two of them really had it coming, and the other one was necessary to drive the plot point.
There were some very cool framing effects in the film, which lent to the comic book feel. At times the screen would split into several frames, each showing a different piece of the action, or the action from a different angle. Overlays were used to achieve a similar effect.
For the reasons above, I give the movie a 6 out of 10.