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Smashing Bad Time

'The Hulk' doesn't have much to offer besides its green star demolishing stuff.

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Hulk suck! Hulk make bad movie! I have to say, of all the superhero movies of the last few years, this is by far the worst. It's hard to even begin to say what went wrong here, because the short answer is "everything."

Well, almost everything. In a Christian spirit, I'll start off by mentioning what works in this movie: Hulk smashing tanks and helicopters. If there's one thing Hulk can do, it's smash, and he smashes real, real good in this movie. Sadly, you have to wait over an hour to see the awesome smash-fest in the desert, but when it hits, it hits with the force of a cosmic-crisis-crossover event. There's little that's more viscerally satisfying than seeing a helicopter turned into silly putty by a giant green man who has bigger breasts than Andrea Dworkin.

On the other hand, here's what doesn't work in The Hulk: everything else. Director Ang Lee couldn't have made more bad decisions. First off, this thing is cut like a cheesy music video. There's an annoying dissolve, overlay or inset shot about every two seconds, and while that may seem cool at first, it becomes exceedingly tiresome after, well, two seconds.

You'd think that a modern director wouldn't be so enamored with his digital editing toys that he'd have to try out every single one of them every chance he gets, but this thing looks like one of those letters you'd receive from someone who just got a new computer, you know, where they put in every font and page-layout effect they can. Chill out, Ang! We've all seen this crap before, and if you're not using it to any particular effect, quit using it.

Which goes double for the plot, or lack thereof. It's almost impossible to summarize this film because virtually nothing cogent happens. Sure, research scientist Bruce Banner accidentally transforms himself into a computer-animated action figure, but other than that, it's more like a disconnected series of vignettes. I guess there's some recurring theme about people not getting along with their fathers, or having fathers who are hard to get along with, or being a father and using your scientific prowess to turn your son into a giant green mutant (been there!), but it's shallower than a baby-pool full of Freudian urine and it only gets in the way of Hulk smashing things. The story remains so underdeveloped, in spite of dragging on and on and on, that I can't imagine what it's even in the movie for, unless its main purpose was to space out the smashing sequences, in which case, bravo.

Since the story is about as convincing as George Bush's latest missing-WMD explanation, the actors are left to flounder about while waiting for something to get broken. This is too bad, because the cast should have been pretty good. Jennifer Connelly, who plays the Hulk's love interest, is that rare actress who won an Academy Award without totally sucking. I can't say she maintains her noncrappiness in The Hulk, but then again, she has nothing to work with, unless a script that sounds like it was written by the special child of a soap opera writer is "something." There's also Nick Nolte as the Hulk's father. Nolte can be good, but here he pretty much plays the part like he's trying out for the role of mad scientist in the low-budget remake of Abbott and Costello Blow the Wolfman.

Eric Bana is decent, if a bit bland, as Hulk's alter-ego, Bruce Banner, which is the only role in the film with any depth, unless crying in every scene counts as depth, then Jennifer Connelly's got it, or unless having uncombed hair and looking like a Troma studios version of a mad scientist counts, then I guess Nick Nolte's got it.

Wait, I just looked up "depth" in the dictionary: No luck for Nolte and Connelly.

This film represents a wasted opportunity, because the Hulk is one of the more interesting superhero characters. As opposed to virtually every other superhero out there, the Hulk is not a hero, nor are those who are trying to contain him villains. Rather, not unlike your average resident of the Gaza strip, he's a really angry guy who just wants people to stop shooting him. Which, when you think about it, pretty much sums up the modern condition.

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