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I saw Ang Lee's Hulk this weekend, and for all its obvious flaws, still kind of liked it.

Okay, yeah, he looks like Shrek on steroids, and we're damn near an hour into the film before he shows up, and the movie is far too long (primarily it's the protracted set-up and the dismally drawn-out ending that needed the most heavy editing).

But the pseudo-comic book style of direction worked pretty well. And it was chock full of good actors (not always given much good to work with, though). And we got to see Sam Eliot finally trim his friggin' moustache!

Seriously, the movie was a mixed bag. Besides the aforementioned complaints, I thought the lead kind of stunk. Eric Bana seemed to have only two facial expressions, drowsy and eyes-bugging-I'm-about-to-turn-into-the-Hulk. Unlike Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker, I didn't feel much empathy or interest at all in Bana's Bruce Banner. He was flat and dull, and not very likeable. His computer-generated alter-ego seemed to have more range as an actor.

Which brings me to my other major beef. The Hulk actually looked pretty good, I thought. He didn't dissolve into the role the way Gollum did in The Two Towers. You believed Gollum was a real character in a way that you never believe the Hulk is. You're almost always completely aware that he's a computer-generated construct. Partly this is because he's organic, and skin, hair, eyes, facial muscles, etc. are extremely difficult to render believably. And yet the dinosaurs in Jurrassic Park looked spectacular. And so did Gollum. So it can be done.

It's hard to put my finger on exactly why the Hulk didn't look natural, when so much effort went into him. Even though he was presumably stronger and faster than anything we've ever seen, he still didn't look like he was interacting with the physical world in a completely believable way.

Also, he didn't speak through most of the film, which made it difficult to humanize him. The one scene where he does speak, in a sort of dream sequence, is actually surprisingly effective. He might have been more believable if he'd spoken more throughout the film.

Ironically, the best action sequence was the Hulk's desert fight with the U.S. military, in broad daylight. The two other big set pieces, his fight with mutant dogs and his showdown with his dad, were both at night, almost completely in darkness. They were jumbled messes of action, which was frustrating. Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon had several fight scenes at night, but because of ample moonlight, good cinematography, and clear directing, the action was clearly visible. Not so with the Hulk action sequences, which unfavorably reminded me of the most recent Godzilla incarnation, almost as if the director wanted to obscure the action. Not a good idea.

Still, Hulk a decent film. It has some geniunely good action and enough emotional involvement through secondary characters, like Jennifer Connelly's Betty Ross, to sustain it.

I'd recommend it, but don't go expecting a completely kick-ass action flick, or as Ang Lee almost seems to keep framing it in interviews, as some sort of Shakespearean masterpiece.

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