Review: 'She-Hulk: Attorney At Law Is So Close Yet So Far From Greatness

Review: 'She-Hulk: Attorney At Law Is So Close Yet So Far From Greatness

Updated on August 18, 2022 17:12 PM by Dhinesh

'She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

Marvel's "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law" misses the mark by far less than the length of your average Hulk. But watching "She-Hulk" is like watching your favorite basketball team overshoot the buzzer-beater by this much. It's like when you get to the subway just as the doors of the train close. It's like a meal that would be perfect with just a few more grains of salt. 

Marvel has a mixed track record with its forays into big-budget television on Disney+, from the deathly boring ("The Falcon and the Winter Soldier") to the decidedly wonderful ("Ms. Marvel"). "She-Hulk" (streaming Thursdays, ★★½ out of four) is oh-so-close to being a great show, but doesn't fully commit to any of the three or four different shows it's attempting. It is at once a comedy, a legal drama, a superhero show, a romance, a "Fleabag"-style fourth-wall breaker, and a hangout sitcom. Oh, and there are some distracting, poorly rendered computer graphics trying to bring its big green protagonist to life.

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It's a lot, but hidden within a tangled mishmash are a very appealing protagonist (played with aplomb by Emmy-winning "Orphan Black" star Tatiana Maslany) and some well-placed humor, and if "She-Hulk" leans into its strengths, it could be a unique, fun take on the mania of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But at least in the four episodes made available for review, it's not there yet.

About The Series 

The series, as its title suggests, is about a superhero who also practices law, a new concept for the MCU but part of a long history in comics that feature characters with more varied lives than Captain America and Iron Man. The series opens with Jen Walters (Maslany) enjoying a road trip with her cousin Bruce Banner, aka The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), when a car accident leads her to get some Hulk blood in her system. Unlike Bruce, who originally had no control over his Hulk side and spent years dealing with the damage he wrought, Jen is immediately sentient when she gets all big and green.

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Having mastered (from her perspective) the art of being a Hulk in record time, Jen returns to her life as a prosecutor in Los Angeles. But one small Hulking-out ruins her career and makes her an instant celebrity with the unfortunate moniker "She-Hulk." Eventually, Jen lands on her feet when she's offered a job running the superhuman law department at a fancy firm, defending the likes of MCU movie characters Abomination (Tim Roth, reprising his role as the villain from 2008's "The Incredible Hulk") and Wong (Benedict Wong). She's also trying to date on the apps, hang out with her friend and paralegal Nikki (Ginger Gonzaga) and fend off legal and physical attacks from "super-influencer" Titania (Jameela Jamil, "The Good Place").

Mostly, while watching "She-Hulk" I wanted more fourth-wall-breaking asides from Jen; more commitment to the legal comedy; more glimpses into the everyday humans populating a super-powered world; and more She-Hulk, especially Maslany showing off the extraordinary acting ability we know she has. The half-hour series just doesn't feel like it's enough.

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Another Problem: Computer-generated Imagery

Another problem that may be insurmountable for some viewers is the computer-generated imagery. While the effects are better than in some early trailers, it is still a bit distracting when Maslany is in She-Hulk form. Perhaps because her body shapes and affect are more human than Ruffalo's regular Hulk, She-Hulk lives more in the uncanny valley. It's never quite possible to suspend disbelief and fully immerse yourself into She-Hulk's world because she never looks real. She's more like a shaky video game character than Gollum in "Lord of the Rings."

Still, many redeeming qualities make me root for it despite its many flaws. Maslany remains one of the most magnetic performers around, constantly elevating whatever material she is given. When the series fully gives in to the silliness of legal proceedings featuring shape-shifting elves and hack magicians with Doctor Strange's powers, it's funny and engaging. When it goes off in too many directions, it falters.

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