Entertainment

‘She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’ review: Tatiana Maslany stars in a Marvel comedy that’s too weak to be a hit

Ironically, the most hyped item before the premiere – what the main computer-generated character looks like – is the least of the show’s worries. For the most part, these scenes are fine, although perhaps a bit reminiscent of “Avatar” in the way the Hulks dominate ordinary people.

Instead, the show gets bogged down in comedy that’s not easy to be green and emphasizes quirkiness, feeling episodic in the extreme, after the obligatory origin story be ruled out. While there’s nothing wrong with slimy office comedy, based on the four previewed episodes, this genre hardly plays to Marvel’s strengths.

For those unfamiliar with the character, the premiere dutifully installs Tatiana Maslany’s Jennifer Walters as the cousin of Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who accidentally mixes her blood with his, giving her extraordinary strength and size. (6’7″, in his case, so a bit more down to earth).

Unfortunately, that same episode also establishes that Jessica will occasionally break the fourth wall and speak directly to the audience, a pretty tired device that proves particularly troublesome in this context, as she adjusts to the vagaries of coming and going between his superpowered and me ordinary.

“There’s no going back to who you were before,” Hulk tells her, though part of She-Hulk’s DNA is that she gradually recognizes certain beneficial aspects of her larger-than-life personality. .

“She-Hulk” thus offers what amounts to a TMZ and tabloid-informed view of the superhero world, with reluctant newcomer Jessica serving as the de facto guide. If the idea is promising, the execution fails despite the occasional laugh.

Comedian Jessica Gao and director Kat Coiro (whose recent credits include Jennifer Lopez’s “Marry Me”) have fun with the wonder of it all, from the various cameos to references to early Hulk films not starring Ruffalo at Jessica’s unhealthy interest in Captain America’s personal life. In Maslany, the chameleon star of “Orphan Black,” they also have a solid lead, without giving him the kind of material to flex those muscles.

The main problem is that there’s nothing to really drive the narrative, with Jameela Jamil, as superpowered influencer Titania, barely fitting into the early installments, each featuring a mid-credit gag.

The proposition underlying Marvel’s Disney+ series hinges on the ability to feature stories, characters, and tones that wouldn’t have the weight or appeal of carrying a big-screen incarnation, again, a approach not without merit. The end effect, however, after an auspicious start, leaned more towards diluting the flagship brand than increasing it.

Even though the first series had their flaws, they usually contained enough thrills to justify the considerable hype. In contrast, “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” presents a flimsy case to stick to until the end. While the remaining episodes could overturn that summary judgment, so far it doesn’t have the appeal to win the appeal.

“She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” premieres August 18 on Disney+.

cnn

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