The Hulk

January 29, 2015 – 11:01 am
Pecs appeal: Don't make him angry; you wouldn't like him when he's angry.

o quest is more quixotic in hollywood than producing a comic-book movie with real emotional depth. Recent attempts like Spider-Man and Daredevil wedge some angst and weepiness into the mix, but the results seem tactical—a way to broaden the films’ mostly young-male demographic. Ang Lee’s The Hulk, on the other hand, openly embraces the deep-dish emotionalism associated with modern-day comic-book superheroes. The film is often psychologically dark and roiling as well as tender. Despite the profusion of computer-generated effects, which rousingly bring the green guy to life, I often felt, for better and for worse, that I was watching a comic-book movie reconceived as a piece of serious mythmaking.

For Ang Lee, this approach makes sense: He may be many things as a director, but he has no pulp in his soul. As Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon demonstrated, his passion is for spiritualizing pulp, for unleashing its visual and conceptual beauty. Viewed strictly as a thrill ride, The Hulk isn’t a pop sensation, and some of Lee’s seriousness is more glum than resonant. But it’s an honorable, if highly uneven, attempt to make a “personal” movie derived from the most improbable of sources. Anybody expecting a big-screen version of the Lou Ferrigno–Bill Bixby late-seventies TV show, or even of the comics character created by Marvel’s Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, is going to feel hornswoggled.


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