By Stephanie Zacharek
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Still, Thomas points out, with his superior T-cells, you'd think the kid could have fended off adolescent acne and made it to adulthood with smooth skin.
Ruddy complexion and all, Bruce eventually unleashes the genetic power within himself by falling victim to a radiation accident. We know it's only a matter of time before he loses his temper and transforms into his Incredible alter ego. It was difficult not to smirk, however, when the Hulkster made his first appearance.
"A lot of the effects were pretty cheesy," Thomas said. "He just looked like a big cricket."
Cricket? It was hard to see anything insectlike about the Hulk. But Thomas admitted that when he slowed down enough to get a good look at him, the half-hero half-monster did seem very tactile and believable. "Close ups on his face were really good. They did a good job of capturing his humanity and emotion."
She was even more enthusiastic about the stunning moment when the Hulk realizes he can fly. Well, soar is probably more accurate, the result of massive leaps that seem to carry him about a county at a time through the Nevada desert. It's breathtaking. "Have you ever had that dream, of running and taking off into the air?" she asked. "I've had that dream."
She admitted there was something very satisfying seeing the computer-generated behemoth leap mountains in a single bound, and always land with the gentlest of thumps on fragile wild landscapes. For some reason, he managed to leave barely a footstep in pristine backcountry but his gait crushed city asphalt, Thomas pointed out. Was it a hidden environmentalist agenda? It was tough to tell in a film that seemed to have so many themes going on at the same time, including outdated cold war paranoia, anti-science juju and even a dash of anti-secularism (one of several villains is the godless "Atheon" corporation).
Thomas reserved her greatest scorn for the Hulk's evil dad, David Banner, who returns after his 30-year disappearance in the guise of Nick Nolte in bad need of a shave. She didn't think much of Nolte's acting; the disheveled dude is barely audible, whispering throughout the film. And his look is a bit much. "The make-up artists must have just looked at his mug shots," she quipped.
It turns out, however, that Nolte's DUI arrest for driving under the influence of GHB last year occurred just after shooting on the Hulk ended. So Nolte can't be given style points for having fun with his wild arrest look.
At least, in the film, he goes out in a blaze of glory. At least we think that's what happened. The Hulk ends in one of the most confusing, difficult-to-make-out computer generated finales we've ever seen, and Nolte's character just sort of disappears. With a court date fast approaching, Nolte'd no doubt like to pull the same trick.
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