(Originally posted at Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat.)
It's only been a day or two since I wrote the review, but I'm already reconsidering my just-on-this-side-of-negative review of The Hulk. I think it's a mistake to completely overlook the film's weaknesses (it's got plenty), but the strong stuff from it has really stuck with me. The film's visuals are by far the best part of the whole, and they're indelible--Hulk vs. the tanks, the explosion that kills the heel scientist in a freeze-frame, the ever-shifting comics panels, the close-ups of the rocks and moss and plants, the bizarre moment-in-time fight through the clouds at the end... it's haunting.
This is pretty much the exact same thing that happened to me after seeing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I love long takes, sparse dialogue, and slow-burning plot development as much as the next guy--actually, a whole lot more than the next guy--but something about that movie just didn't click for me. But before two weeks went by I'd undergone a critical about-face and found myself enthralled by the balletic fight scenes, the passionate desert interlude, the gorgeous music, the intense love... not triangle... pentagon?
But I've got more issues with The Hulk than I ever had with CTHD. Just by way of a for instance, nothing remotely resembling the incredible love scene between Ziyi Zhang and Chen Chang in the latter actor's character's desert hideout was present in the big guy's movie. Though Eric Bana and Jennifer Connelly are both likeable actors who did fine work with what they had, Ang Lee never took the time to convince us of their feelings for one another the way he did in CTHD, which was an absolutely necessary thing to do given how those feelings are supposed to drive the Hulk's actions in the entire final half of the film. Plus, unlike the crazy parent figure in CTHD, the Nurse-esque character who's secretly the Jade Scorpion, Nick Nolte's Daddy Banner is infuriatingly unjustified and unexplained in his madness. He goes from a loving but too-driven father in flashbacks to a cold-blooded scenery-chewing bastard in the present day. Again, given the heft his relationship to his son the Hulk is given in the film's final act, he badly needed to be better developed.