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Contrary to the terrible reviews, The Hulk
is an inspired comic-book film--just not much of a crowd-pleaser because it's so damn melancholy. Danny Elfman's somber Middle Eastern score sets a mood, and the kinetic use of digital collage, splitscreen, and unpredictable cutaways is more alienating (in a good way) than seat-gripping. The shots of ol' Greenskin bouncing across the western desert like a 20-ton grasshopper take your breath away, no matter how silly, and there's another wonderful effect where his howling visage is superimposed on lightning-impregnated thunderclouds. Right before that barely comprehensible passage, Nick Nolte and Hulk-as-human Eric Bana do a strange little one act play about morality and Oedipal conflict on a starkly-lit dais between giant Defense Dept. electromagnets--Nolte literally chews the scenery by biting into a live cable and turning into a roiling anime demon. 33 years ago special effects guy Dennis Muren brought an unforgettable flying devil to life in the Jack Woods drive-in howler Equinox
; it's great to see he's still accessing his inner Harryhausen in the digital age. Ang Lee continues to look East for ideas and atmosphere: substitute science for the supernatural and The Hulk
isn't that far from Onmyoji,
a live-action Japanese sorcery film that enjoyed a minuscule theatrical run a few weeks back. Major beef: it's time to retire the "recovered childhood trauma" theme. Hitchcock's Spellbound
premiered in 1945 and screenwriters are still revisiting it!