THE HULK (Universal) Director: Ang Lee. Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliot. (PG-13)
Take One: Crouching Tiger director Lee brings his poetic sensibilities to the comic-book story of Bruce Banner and his big, green, gamma-ray-induced alter ego.
Take Two: Deliberate pacing, psychological drama and a somewhat head-scratching climax may bewilder action fans expecting a Godzilla -style action-fest.
Final Take: The sometimes-cartoony Hulk is no Gollum (now the standard in lifelike computer-generated imagery), but Lee's film is the most thoughtful and one of the most interesting of comic-book movies.
EMMA (Warner Bros) Director: Rob Reiner. Luke Wilson, Kate Hudson, Sophie Marceau. (PG-13)
Take One: Romantic-comedy vehicle shuttles between two plots, one involving a novelist (Wilson) and a stenographer (Hudson), the other involving characters in the novel he's writing.
Take Two: The big problem: Neither set of romantic entanglements is actually romantic, and neither set of characters is interesting. Nonmarital affairs in both story-lines include a bedroom scene played for laughs.
Final Take: Another misfire from the once-reliable Reiner, Alex and Emma is occasionally amusing but never makes you care.
FINDING NEMO (Pixar) Director: Andrew Stanton. Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould. (G)
Take One: The makers of Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. focus for the first time on the parent-child relationship with a funny, heartfelt tale of a young clownfish (Gould) who is separated in the sea from his loving, though overprotective, father (Brooks).
Take Two: Caveats for parents of younger kids include the fact that Nemo loses his mother before he's even hatched, and constant white-knuckle excitement includes a scary scene with a shark.
Final Take: Another home run for Pixar, Finding Nemo is the studio's most emotionally affecting film to date — it made this dad cry — and the lavishly detailed animation raises the bar yet again.
RUGRATS GO WILD
(Nick/Paramount) Directors: John Eng, Norton Virgien. E.G. Daily, Christine Cavanaugh. (PG)
Take One: Cable-TV Nickel-odeon franchises collide as the Rugrats (in their third film) meet the Wild Thornberrys (in their second film).
Take Two: Lacking much in the way of either plot or character development, the lightweight film's main draw is its juxtaposition of cartoon casts, which allows for some enjoyable pairings.
Final Take: Basically harmless fun for fans of the two series.
(Columbia) Director: Ron Shelton. Harrison Ford, Josh Hartnett, Lena Olin. (PG-13)
Take One: Ford and Hartnett play homicide detectives who moonlight in other fields when not pursuing a rap-world murder.
Take Two: Inept film systematically fails as police procedural, murder mystery, buddy picture and action-comedy — and is unpleasantly blasé about human life. Hartnett sleeps with anonymous beauties whose names he can't remember; Ford's thrice-divorced and having an affair.
Final Take: Perhaps the lowest point yet in actor Harrison Ford's sagging, post-Fugitive career.
Steven D. Greydanus, editor and chief critic of DecentFilms.com, writes from Bloomfield, New Jersey.
- July 6-12, 2003