Broken Glass Makes Me Laugh
This may seem cruel, mocking and unpleasant to you.
And I do not disagree that it has its vile and childish side. But comedy has no friends, mad people are funny, and it's not news that I'm an arsehole sometimes.
-- Warren Ellis
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
New Hulk Movie = Not So Good
I saw the new Hulk movie a few days ago, and I wasn’t very impressed. I didn’t out and out hate it either, but the movie doesn’t have much to recommend it. I came away pretty firmly neutral, which is the same way I felt about Ang Lee’s version a few years ago. Just as with that one, I have a hard time pinning down why the new movie doesn't work.
The main failing is in the writing. Good writing can excuse a lot, from shoddy effects to leaps in logic. Unfortunately, The Incredible Hulk, lacks in clever moments and memorable dialogue. I liked the “You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry,” and “Why are you always hitting people?” but for the most part no one had a personality. Part of the blame lies with the actors, who, with few exceptions, come across as one dimensional. In particular, Liv Tyler (who I’ve liked in other stuff) began to grate on me with her breathy delivery.
Also, the movie waffles between genres, going from a dark, suspense story to the type of action movie that keeps logic at an arms length. I’m all for suspension of disbelief, but at times the military stuff in this movie is too dumb to be ignored. In the battle at the university, a full-on military assault with live ammunition and explosives is carried out in a public area. Later, during the fight in New York, a helicopter gunship fires at the Hulk and the Abomination in the middle of Manhattan, while they fight on rooftops. Never mind that bullets travel through buildings. None of the military's actions have consequences, whether that be injured civilians or General Ross getting bawled out. All of this is just lazy writing. Even one scene in which someone asked for an authorization for using this kind of force would have helped, but there’s nothing. I’m a fan of stupid action (I’ve had several conversations over the past few weeks in which I extol the virtues of Red Dawn), but the movie doesn’t live up to the tone it sets for itself.
Leaving aside smaller, technical details, chunks of the plot don’t make sense. I still don’t understand what Tim Roth’s character was supposed to do. General Ross juices him up to go fight the Hulk, but Roth can’t beat him in a fist fight, and guns are useless, so what was the point? (If that character had a personality, I’d say he should be commended for taking things to the next level and hulking himself up). A legion of soldiers like that I could understand (and that would’ve looked pretty cool too, a whole squad racing around like Roth does).
The tone of the movie is hurt further by all the “cute” moments. I remember reading something somewhere that said that a strength of the Ang Lee movie was that it didn’t have any moments where the Hulk bounded by and someone gawped and rubbed their eyes. This movie is filled with moments like that. The moment where they almost have sex is a cheap laugh. He can’t because he’ll get too excited, never mind that he ran full out through the streets with soldiers chasing him for several minutes before his heart rate became an issue there. Liv Tyler’s freakout at the cabbie is another example. It might’ve worked if something in her mannequin-like performance had hinted that she was capable of anything other than passiveness. The film abandons consistency in the style of a sitcom in order to pander to the audience.
Where Iron Man was subtle with its Easter eggs, Hulk is ham handed (although I suppose that’s appropriate in a way). Even the cameos are handled poorly in this movie. I accept that Stan Lee has to be in all these movies, but his cameos are work better when he’s in the background (in a Waldo sort of way) instead of the in-your-face appearance here. And with Lou Ferrigno, I can understand why you’d want to put him in, but his appearance only serves to remind you, “Hey, I’m watching a movie!” Even the Robert Downey Jr. bit, though cool, should’ve gone after the credits, like the equivalent Sam Jackson scene in Iron Man. It’s not part of the movie proper, and with the Banner scene preceding it, it gives the movie multiple endings.
What would’ve helped the movie? Aside from a complete overhaul, I don’t know. I do think the movies are missing something by not bringing up the Jekyll and Hyde aspects of the Hulk. The films treat the Hulk like a bigger, dumber Banner, instead of a different personality. I like the idea in the comics that Banner and the Hulk hate each other; Banner is afraid of the Hulk, and the Hulk hates Banner’s weakness. Moving the franchise more in the direction of horror/action might work, too. That’d accommodate the psychological aspects of the character that don’t seem to fit in the current pure action framework of the movies. The Hulk should be scary. The most effective scenes in this movie were during the fight in the factory at night, when you couldn’t see much. Changing the Banner/Hulk relationship by making the Hulk scarier would also help make sense of why Banner wants to get rid of the Hulk so badly. After all, in this movie every time the Hulk comes out he fixes Banner’s problems. Why would he want to get rid of that?
Thursday, June 05, 2008
DC Comics via 60s Anime, and Marvel Characters Smoking
And Superman via Mazinger:
Check out more at Chiang's site.
While I was looking around for links, I found this sweet picture of Mazinger by an artist named Jose Liebana:
And finally, Drawn! linked to this great set of images by Chris Schweizer of Marvel characters smoking. The research that went into the project is pretty good, as some of these characters were only ever shown smoking once (if my memory is correct).
Marvel instituted a smoking ban in their comics a few years back, which I can understand, I guess, but you sometimes forget how many of their characters have been shown smoking. I mean, geez, Captain America?!
I notice that a lot of these instances came out of the 1960s, which paints an interesting picture of what a Mad Men-like place the 60s Marvel universe was. The number of cigar smokers at Marvel jumped out at me, too. I guess it comes out of Jack Kirby's own cigar smoking. I was looking for cigar smokers at DC, but I could only come up with supporting characters. Can anyone out there think of any DC leads who smoke cigars?