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January 23, 2011

Movie Review: The Amazing Bulk (2011)

THE AMAZING BULK is one of the more recent films from the David Sterling production machine. This one was directed by Lewis Schoenbrun, who made a name for himself editing tons of B movies. Obviously, it is rip-off (or "mock-buster" if you will) of the THE INCREDIBLE HULK, though it comes far too late to cash in on either the Eric Bana fiasco blockbuster, or the slightly more appealing one with Edward Norton. It's timing, like most everything about this movie, is odd.

In order to tell a "blockbuster" type action story like this one on a miniscule budget, the film makers opted to do the entire movie green screen with digitally created backgrounds. The results are very uneven. Some of the backgrounds are nearly photo realistic, and others are very cartoonish. I suppose the attempt here is to give it the look of a comic book. But it comes off more as a video game designed by several different teams. The quality, again, is at best uneven.

In fact, that word "uneven" pretty much defines this movie. The serious scenes are played quite straight-faced, and the over the top ones played about as campily as one can imagine. In the end, all attempts at a consistent tone are gleefully abandoned and lost irrevocably.

The story goes something like this: Henry "Hank" Howard (Jordan Lawson) is a young, tattooed scientist attempting to develop a serum to prolong life and increase strength. He works for the evil General Darwin (groan) played by Terence Lording, and is of course engaged to his beautiful daughter Hannah (Shevaun Kastl). The General won't let her marry until he perfects the serum. Henry is impatient, so he moves things along by testing the formula out on himself.

He is transformed into a large purple naked guy who kicks over cars wherever he goes. Oddly, in a completely digital movie where the elements can all be manipulated in any way imaginable, the transformation scenes are quite bland. A dirty cloud of dust kicks up and whirls around Henry like a made-to-order dust-devil, obscuring the transformation, and receding to reveal the titular "Bulk" (to the Kubrick-inspired strains of Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra").

The transformation is not permanent, however, but is triggered every time that Henry gets really pissed off. In one of his purple rampages, The Bulk accidently kills Detective Tuttle (Deidre Lyons), which makes it personal for her partner, Detective Garton (the always-reliable Jed Rowen). Hank is captured by Garton and returned to the evil General who uses him as a weapon to go after the outrageous super-villain, Werner Kantlove (Randal Malone who sets new standards of mugging, even for him; with his permanent scowl and a German accent that describing as "awful" would be too kind), who is planning on blowing up the moon, for reasons I dare anybody to fathom.

Kantlove lives in a German castle with his dippy blonde trophy wife Lolita (again, groan) played by Juliette Angeli. Too many references are made to Kantlove's impotency (just in case we didn't get it the first time), making his surname another great big, too-obvious, groaning pun. The space scenes are all accompanied to the strains of The Blue Danube; again letting us know the film makers are familiar with Kubrick.

It all ends in a madcap chase, the Bulk pursued by the army and everyone else (accompanied by a cavalry charge bugle, right out of F-Troop). Here the film makers pull out all stops and any sense of reality goes out the window. The Bulk is pursued by a cartoon Robin Hood, a cartoon Red Baron in a bi-plane, a cartoon Zeus on top of Olympus hurling lightning bolts - pretty much taking advantage of every stock character available to them in their digital toolbox.

If you like video games and camp, you might have a little fun with this. If you are looking for action, look elsewhere. It's all far too cartoonish to develop any real excitement or suspense. And if you are looking for gore or sleaze, you will find nary a trace. You could play this on Saturday morning TV to kids. But I think most of them would get bored half way through and turn the channel.


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