Friday, June 27, 2008

The Not-So-Incredible Hulk

This is a little late, but I think we can now safely review our latest Marvel superhero movie.

If you are a Marvel geek who wants the smash everything Hulk of the comics and care little for character development, plot and structure, you will LOVE this movie. It has all the right geek elements - down to some very impressive sonic cannons used to stop our great green behemoth.

But if you want excellent dialogue and mythology writ large, you are going to have to go nibble on Ang Lee's version - lambasted for its introspectiveness and complexity.

Iron Man did it right: show a hedonistic self-centered playboy who gets his life spared by another and watch him become a warrior for the good. There was something to love for EVERYONE - from cool tech to a powerful love story to nods to geekdom (Rhodey looking enviously at a silver suit of Tony's armor and driving around in a pitch black car - and we KNOW he's gonna be War Machine in the next movie.)

There is indeed good geekness in this Hulk movie: how Banner's very blood can transform any person into a Hulk-like being. But it was so obtuse in one scene, I missed it in fact - I had forgotten about the Leader , a villain with a very very large forehead and vast mental capabilities.

So as I said, if you are a geek, you will appreciate this movie. But if you are merely a filmgoer and have a decent knowledge of the TV show starring Bill Bixby, you will be a bit disappointed in the lack of depth. This loss is perfectly understandable when you realize the director for this does great action movies with no message besides "pound them". He did The Transporter and a few other hi-action martial arts films. All fight, no message. A bit like a bunch of Gamers on a Friday night.

I think we are all like that, however. We fight and fight and have no reason why. The Incredible Hulk is therefore a perfect movie who desire the flesh, the form and the action.

But Ang Lee's Hulk went deeper. It touched our wounds, why we are enraged, what manifests when we refuse to release others from their sins. What happens when loss is great and knowledge is also great. Monstrosities and deformities. But sometimes the very things that wounded us can become used as a strength, as a weapon to fight the battles that come our way.

I do think Ang Lee served us too much in one film. And this second director - Louis Leterrier - served us too little.

Its hard, making a film about a huge destructive beast that pops out of a brilliant man who gets angry and can't get close to the ones he loves because of the damage he might do.

But now that two have tried, and one was too hot and another was too cold, perhaps the third director will get it "just right".

Either way, "Hulk will SMASH!" - and make a lot of green.

1 comment:

Resilient Hawk said...

As one who thought Ang Lee's ideas were interesting on paper, but directing of the Hulk was awful - I welcomed a new look at the Hulk. Lee's storytelling was flighty, scattered, and lacked true depth in my view. That said, as hopeful as I was, it looks like the new Hulk misses the mark.

Iron Man - agreed. Complex story told well for its context. Didn't over-reach, but set the matk high.

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