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Tue, Jul 25, 2017 03:48 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2003-06-25 tracking life & times section
'Hulk' an enjoyable summer flick
Cletus Turner
For comic book fans, the past couple of years have been a veritable bonanza at the movies. We have seen X-Men 1 and 2, Spiderman and Daredevil hit the big screen. While some might think these movies destroyed the "purity" of comics, it is nice to see some of the heroes I grew up reading about in the flesh. Some might think the actors chose to portray Storm or Wolverine of the X-Men just didn't cut the mustard. In some cases that was true, but for the most part, the concept the director used was in many cases good and sound. Some of the stories that have been brought to the screen have also changed the basic premise of the story that was written in the comic books. For instance, Iceman was part of the original X-Men, not brought in later. Rogue did not fall in love with Iceman or Wolverine.

The same can be said for Hulk, the latest film to feature a comic book character, which opened this past week and broke the record for a June opening. The film featured relative unknown Eric Bana as Bruce Banner, the scientist who, in the comics, is hit by gamma radiation and, when angry, can turn into the Hulk. The film, directed by Ang Lee and produced by Hulk creator Stan Lee, goes in a uniquely different direction. Instead of having Bruce be a mutation as in the comic book, the film makes him into an aberrant. It seems that Bruce's father, David, played by Nick Nolte, had begun to test a serum on himself and then impregnated his wife. When Bruce was born, whenever he became angry, his skin would discolor.

Unfortunately, David's boss, General Ross found out that he had been testing the serum on humans and later discovered that it was David who was the test subject.

Jump years into the future, Bruce is now a scientist in the same field as his father. He is using biomeds and gamma radiation to try to cure cuts and other injuries. Unfortunately, all clinical trials on animals do not work. Later, when his research assistant is in the radiation room, the assistant has an accident and can't get out. Bruce runs in to help, can't get him out before the radiation goes off, and throws himself in front of the radiation. The lab assistant is saved, and Banner seems better than he has in years. The doctor can't believe the great health Banner is in after being hit by radiation.

While in the hospital, Banner is visited by a man claiming to be his father. David is indeed alive and tells Bruce the story of how he watched Bruce with scientific curiosity while he was a baby. Nolte certainly makes David seem to be dispassionate. Finally, the inevitable happens. Bruce loses his temper and turns into the Hulk.

Much can be said for CGI, Hulk is perfect in many details. When he saves Betty Ross, played by the beautiful Jennifer Connelly, the Hulk is at once angry and tough, but unable to hurt Betty. He is definitely not a hero. But, he isn't a villain either. David makes up for it, though. Bruce's father goes to the laboratory and hits himself with a burst of the gamma radiation. The radiation makes him able to leech the properties of anything he touches. He makes Bruce get angry so that he can try to leech Hulk's energy.

The story is a good introduction to Hulk. Although the change in storyline from comics to film will be jarring to some who loved the old story, it is good that Lee chose to change the premise. For those who have read the comics, they get to see Hulk in a different light and the story isn't boring from having heard it before. For those who haven't read the comic, Hulk is new and exciting.

The major problem with the film is that the first appearance of the Hulk is 40 minutes into the film. For those who went to see the big, green machine, that's about 30 minutes too late. I had to agree. I think the film would have been better served to show the creature earlier and give us the background later. It would have satisfied those who wanted to see the creature, and give more action for the film. Things just didn't start hopping until Hulk showed up, and that could be a death knell for a film. The dark, somber movie could have used some punch, and Hulk showing up earlier would have done that.

Bana, Nolte and Connelly made the film. Their acting abilities made us care what happened to Bruce, David and Better. We cared for David only because we see what his life could have been like had he not stepped outside the lines. Bruce's life would have been more sane, that's for sure.

Overall, Hulk was not a bad movie. It is certainly enjoyable and made for a good night's entertainment.

3 1/2 suns

Hulk was the number one film over the weekend. It garnered $62.6 million in its opening frame. It broke the record held by Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me for a June opening.

Last week's number one, Finding Nemo fell to number two once again. The film grossed $20.5 million and now has made $228 so far.

2 Fast 2 Furious garnered $10.3 million. It has now grossed $102.1 million, outdistancing its prequel.

Number four is Bruce Almighty. The Jim Carrey flick raked in another $10 million and has grossed $210.7 million

Number five is The Italian Job. The heist flick garnered another $7.2 million. The Mark Wahlberg film has grossed $67.7 million so far.

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