The Hulk Threatens to Smash Up the Box Office

The coming attractions didn’t do the film justice. At least, that’s how many of the critics and early audiences who have seen Ang Lee’s The Hulk are responding to the much-awaited adaptation of the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby’s 41-year-old Marvel comic book. The Universal film, which opens in theaters nationwide today, was the subject of much speculation after the trailer’s shots of the ILM-created CG version of the green giant failed to impress die-hard fans of the property.

One of this summer’s major tent-pole pictures, The Hulk stars Eric Bana as the tormented genetic engineer who becomes a massive green figure each time he’s overcome by rage. Obviously, this hitch puts a damper on his romance with his colleague and girlfriend, played by the always-solemn Jennifer Connelly. Looking a lot like that famous mug shot from his arrest, Nick Nolte portrays the hero’s sinister father, who also possesses some superpowers of his own. Insiders predict that the film should perform handsomely at the box office, given the fact that it’s only going head-to-head with Rob Reiner’s lame romantic comedy Alex and Emma. Meanwhile, Disney/Pixar’s smash hit Finding Nemo should continue to gobble up the family audience dollars.

Although critics haven’t really been raving about The Hulk’s CG elements, they have all gone out of their way to praise Ang Lee’s subtle touch and mature approach to the comic book subject. LA Weekly’s Ella Taylor points out that the film is “an articulation not only of the struggle between father and sons, but of our most current topical fears,” while Richard Roeper of Ebert & Roeper says, “This is a superhero movie that really captures the essence of comic book pop art.” Of course, there are curmudgeons like Glenn Lovell of San Jose Mercury News who claims, “Toss a plastic toy figure across your yard, and you’ll have a good approximation of what this film’s $140 million-plus budget bought its producer.” Ouch!

We think you should just go out there and find out for yourself whether Lou Ferrigno would have done a better job than the CG maestros at ILM. To find our more about The Hulk‘s digital magic, read the cover story in the June issue of Animation Magazine.