Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
I just got in from seeing a midnight show of HULK over at the Cinerama Dome, and I’ve had my tickets for the 7:10 Friday night show for weeks now. All I want to say about the film right now is that I dug it. A lot. And I want to see it again. It’s a remarkable bigscreen experience, and I strongly encourage all of you to check it out at the best theater within driving distance of you some time this weekend.
One of our trusty comic reviewers, Jon Quixote, is first up with a review this morning:
Directed by Ang Lee
Written by John Turman, Michael France, James Schamus and probably a whole lot of people not lucky enough to be credited
Starring Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliot & Nick Nolte
A Jon Quixote Review
So what makes a good comic book movie?
That’s a loaded question, because there’s not going to be any one answer. So let’s just pretend we’ve discussed it at length and arrived at what I really want to talk about, which is fidelity to source. Yes, the fuel which burns our little talkback engines. Each and every comic movie we’ve seen has made these little changes: Organic Web-Shooters. African-American Kingpins. Gay Magnetoes (Yeah, the comment about Rogue’s hair was a dead giveaway. You’ll also notice that, while the yellow spandex was the first to go, they hung on to the purple helmet). And each time, some of us, myself included, have gone apeshit. But, thus far, the people behind Marvel’s movies have also put considerable effort into staying true to the source, drawing on classic storylines for their script and some going as far as ripping panels from the page in a direct translation.
THE HULK breaks the trend. The change to the lead character may not be overt, but it is significant – rage and transformation is explored as a blessing as well as a curse, and the personalities aren’t nearly as split: there is no animosity between Banner and the Hulk. Other changes are less important, but more dramatic; David Banner’s amalgamation with a well-known Marvel Super villain, the adjustment made to Bruce’s origin, and let us not forget, never forget, the feeding of scarves to Hulk dogs. And the story, a few “classic” elements aside, is an original.
This is not Stan Lee’s Hulk. It’s definitely not Peter David’s Hulk. It’s certainly not the Hulk we see (every ninth issue or so) in the comic books today. It is, almost exclusively, Ang Lee’s Hulk.
And now I’m going to tell you why HULK shows more fidelity to its origins than any other comic book movie we’ve been given.
Other comic book movies, even the good ones, looked at their source, kept the story elements they wanted, and then proceeded to make a movie about that material. Ang Lee looked at the source and then translated its storytelling language into film.
When we saw Spider-Man, Daredevil, Wolverine on that screen, no matter how much of the comic the filmmaker took for his movie, what we got was still traditional movie. In that regard, it was a superficial adaptation. And that’s not a critique. But Ang Lee is able to use comic books to give us a movie unlike any other we’ve ever watched in form and content. UNBREAKABLE was close, but while that movie was also heavily influenced by comic book visuals and layouts, it lacked the energy, the vibe that draws us to the comic book in the first place. But it’s here, in HULK.
The result: If you love comic books The Medium, your love is there on the screen for you. When Ang Lee kicks into comic book mode, the movie surges, crackles with energy, with comic book energy. It’s rock and roll, bright-pink trading card bubble gum, a pinball bouncing your eyes from image to image bang, bang, bang, turn the page. It can take something as simple as a tour of Bruce’s lab and work and inspire awe – the attention to every shot, every camera placement, every transition is stunning. And it’s all in the language of comic book; sometimes, after a half dozen or so transitions, your eyes go wide and you see how they would have been laid out on the page. Sam Raimi and Bryan Singer are gonna watch this movie and go ‘ohh, right,’ and then thump their heads on the wall. Because, in hindsight, it seems so obvious.
Now the movie isn’t perfect. It lags, particularly in the middle, and most often when they start talking about repressed memories and other psychobabbles that combine with technobabbles to explain the Hulk transformation. This is the emotional stuff, and ideally it should be thought-provoking, at the least it should be interesting, but rarely felt like little more than tacked-on exposition and all I could think about was midichlorians. It doesn’t really help that Connelly and Bana have all the chemistry of a 6 year old mixing Kool-Aid and dish soap in an attempt to make nitro-glycerin. (I was sure it was going to work)
The rest of the performances, however, are stellar. Sam Elliot was born to play Thunderbolt Ross, Josh Lucas is suitably smarmy as Glenn Talbot, and…Nick Nolte. Sure, the role gets really dumb towards the end, as though they were concerned the movie wasn’t nearly superheroey enough and had to throw something flashy in there, but damned if ol’Nick doesn’t steal the entire movie right out from under everybody anyway.
Fun Fact – Nick Nolte first became a household name in the TV Mini RICH MAN/POOR MAN, episodes of which were directed by none other than Bill Bixby! Tell your friends.
As for Big Green, well, let’s just say that if you walk out of the theatre bitching about the way the guy looks, perhaps you’d better take a long look at your expectations. The eyes, the eyes are always a dead giveaway when it comes to computer animation, but they do a lot of long close-ups and…I was convinced. Even moved, from time to time. And when he kicks into action, oh momma! The Hulk is going nuts, Ang’s doing the comic book adrenaline thing, tanks are flying, fighter jets buzzing, explosions all around. I literally broke into a sweat in a frigid movie theatre because, for a while, I stopped breathing. Luckily I noticed before any permanent damage was done.
I was completely swept away. It might not be a perfect movie, but it does exactly what it needs to do, exceeding expectations most of the way and showing us something truly unique. It delivers everything you need from a big Summer blockbuster, never once insults your intelligence, and manages to sneak in a little bit of art, to help it stand out among the crowd. Like the 15-foot cranky Green guy needed any help.
And here’s Uncapie, one of the biggest monster fans I know. Wonder if HULK passes muster with him?
"The Hulk" is the best movie this summer! Lots of action and a great story makes this film work. Ang Lee's directing is top notch and has created a visual comic book for the screen with wipes, panel slides and dissolves that draw the viewer in. The origin of the "Hulk" in this film is quite different from the comic book, but makes sense if its marketed for 21st century film goers. Eric Banna as "Bruce Banner" portrays a sympathetic character the audience can identify with. A man trying to better the world. Jennifer Connelly, beautiful as ever is "Betty Ross" who is the one person that can tame the "Hulk." A version of a rampaging "Beauty And the Beast," if you will. The "Hulk" himself doesn't want to hurt people and attacks only when attacked. Like Mary Shelly's misunderstood creature in "Frankenstein", he's confused and alone against the world. Steely eyed actor, Sam Elliot, does a magnificent job as "General Ross" doing what he must do. You get the feeling that he's torn between wanting to save the "Hulk" but, must destroy him in order to do so. Nick Nolte is the creepiest out of the bunch. He portrays "Banner's" father and what a right bastard he is! He looks "exactly" like those photos the Malibu sheriff's took of him when he was busted for DUI. As a scientist, what he thinks he's doing is right, but has no conscious for the actions he partakes in. The "Hulk Dogs" were surreal and scary. Experiments gone haywire. Like a demented video game. One pedigree in particular I'll never look at the same way again! Overall, the movie has a great look though I felt that the "Hulk" CGI during the first moments we meet him seemed cartoonish. But, after awhile your suspension of disbelief kicks in and you feel for the character. Ang Lee brought out depth in the CGI animated creation with facial expressions and pathos which allows the audience to feel what the "Hulk" is thinking. He becomes a part of us. The "Hulk" is the good guy and we want him to win. He becomes our hero.
If people fall in love with the Hulk the way I think they will, then sequels are inevitable. Wanna know what they’ve got planned?
Reader since 1997 (to this day, your review of Batman & Robin makes me laugh). Anyway, this is from USA Today online. If you haven't seen this & want to use it & want credit me, call me "NewsMan" (and I have *no* relation to USA Today - I just happened to see this there). Tomorrow, I Hulk out myself!
Hulk producer Avi Arad already has the film's screenwriter/producer, James Schamus, working hard on Hulk 2. Schamus says his script further delves into Bruce Banner's epic struggle with his inner demons, resulting in the emergence of an evil, gray-hued Hulk. Shamus says he's toying with the idea of incorporating two possible villains: The Leader (described by Lee as "a giant-head brainiac") and The Abomination ("a big ugly guy the same size as the Hulk").
Well, that’s intriguing stuff. Have to wonder how much of it is just Schamus thinking out loud, and how much of it is actually concrete at this point.
At any rate, thanks for sending it in.