From Justin to Kelly to Alex and Emma, movie theaters will be crowded with names this weekend, but one is certainly expected to stand out, and not just because it's written in green.
In the thick of the comic book hero storm that has seen Spider-Man, Daredevil and the X-Men conquer the big screen comes the Hulk, the superhuman most famously portrayed by Lou Ferrigno in TV's "The Incredible Hulk."
Directed by Ang Lee ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"), "Hulk" basically follows the same story as the show and comic book, with newcomer Eric Bana ("Black Hawk Down") playing scientist Bruce Banner, whose inner demons are given life after an experiment goes wrong. The big difference from the TV version is that the Hulk is no longer played by a human, but rather created with computer graphics.
"There is no doubt that this is a summer blockbuster like none that's ever been seen before, but if you write it off as that only, then too bad, you missed something," Sam Elliott, who plays Hulk hunter Gen. Ross in the movie, said recently. "It's an amazing human story intertwined with this thing that wasn't there when we were making the movie. It's this dark story about something that resides in all of us. I think that's what makes this thing so compelling."
If the millions of viewers who tuned in each week for the first season of "American Idol" turn out in the theaters, "The Hulk" might face some competition from "From Justin to Kelly." The musical stars winner Kelly Clarkson and runner-up Justin Guarini as college students who fall in love during spring break in Miami (see "Kelly Clarkson Dispels Dating Rumors, Clears Up Movie Plot"). (Click for photos of "From Justin to Kelly.")
Guarini recently compared the movie to "Grease," which he pointed out was panned by critics when it opened in 1978 (before he was born).
"This is not for the critics. We're doing this for the fans, and our fans are phenomenal," he said. "It's just a fun-filled, really light romantic comedy musical, and it should be taken that way. If you expect to see 'Doctor Zhivago,' then you're coming to the wrong theater, but if you go in and have fun with it, then you'll enjoy it."
Guarini said the music and dancing is up to par with recent musical hits "Chicago" and "Moulin Rouge," but it's aimed at a wider audience. "You can take your grandma to it, you can take your little toddler. Everybody can go see this movie, and I think that was one of the reasons why we made it the way we did," he said.
Moviegoers who like their romantic comedies without choreography can check out "Alex and Emma," the latest from romantic comedy connoisseur Rob Reiner ("When Harry Met Sally ...").
The flick features Luke Wilson as a writer with a gambling problem who needs to finish his latest novel in 30 days in order to pay off a $50,000 bet. After goons destroy his laptop, he hires a stenographer, Kate Hudson, who eventually helps write the book while falling in love at the same time. (Click for photos of "Alex and Emma.")
Wilson and Hudson also play the characters in the book the gambler is writing, which is one of reasons the actress signed on for the role.
"One [reason] was Rob [Reiner, the other] was it's a completely original romantic comedy," Hudson said. "I've never read anything like it or now have seen anything like it. And to have all of these characters, to be able to play five characters in one movie was just great. I got to dabble in all different accents and it was fun. It lent itself to having a lot of fun as an actor, and it was real challenging because there was so much dialogue in the script. It was like doing a play."
"Hulk," "From Justin to Kelly" and "Alex and Emma" will compete with "Finding Nemo" and "2 Fast 2 Furious," which held the top two spots at the box office after last weekend (see " 'Nemo' Finds #1 Again As '2 Furious' Falls Fast").