Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat!

Happy Halloween, Gentle Reader! We Reads were not too elaborate with our costumes. I went as 19-year-old Amy Reads, which meant wearing lots of eyeliner and black Doc Marten boots. We handed out candy to all the cute kids, and were pleasantly surprised to see the large number of Batmans, Hulks, and Supermans in the crowd. This Humble Author was a Little Distressed over the one child Joker she saw, not for the costume but for the age. Our friends' children were dressed as a monkey and as a strawberry, respectively, and a Good Time was had by All.

Enjoy your evening, Friends!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of October 26th, 2008)

The name of the game, Gentle Reader, is The Incredible Hulk. As I have mentioned many times on This Humble Blog, I occasionally feel as if Mr. Reads and I are the only two people in the world who not only appreciate but adore, yes, *adore* Ang Lee's Hulk. It is beautiful, and smart, and well-written, and, most importantly for the Hulk legend, tragic. There is something utterly tragic about the Hulk in Mr. Lee's version, not because he can be calmed by the serene beauty of Betty Ross (played by one of This Humble Author's favorite actresses, Ms. Jennifer Connelly), but because the Hulk understands. There is a core of Bruce Banner's gentleness inside of the Hulk in Mr. Lee's version, and that core is, ultimately, the tragic flaw of The Incredible Hulk.

Mr. Reads and I resisted seeing The Incredible Hulk (2008) in the theater for a variety of reasons, but namely because we adore the 2003 version so much. The Hulk has never been one of my favorite characters; As Constant Readers of This Humble Blog know, This Humble Author is a DC girl, to to the core. I dabble in Marvel, certainly (give me your Emma Frosts, your Kitty Prydes, your Iron Men), but at The End Of The Day, I would rather have a Wonder Woman or a Flash or a Batman, thank you very much. I am more for the Iconic and less for the Representation.

But I do enjoy Marvel to some degree, make no mistake. The imprint does Representation So Very Well. Their characters are symbolic to a level that is almost--dare I say it in light of the X-Men imprint?--Uncanny. While DC is archetypal, Marvel is Metaphorical. And who is more Metaphorical than The Hulk?

Part Jekyll, part Hyde, yet it seems without the arrogance of either, The Hulk is not often written with a sense of poetry that I think he deserves. Ang Lee's version offered us that. Bruce Banner and the Hulk both were metaphorical, symbolic, representative. The 2008 Hulk was just Hulk Smash, all around.

Not that I did not enjoy it. It was enjoyable in that I do not regret the two hours I spent watching the movie. But I did not walk away from the DVD thinking that it was a movie I must see again. There was no motivation in the movie. I do not mean for the characters but rather for the viewer. Why was I supposed to care? Why was I supposed to sympathize?

It all boils down ultimately, Gentle Reader, to two comments: one in support of what I liked, and one in explanation of what I didn't.

What I liked: Or, rather, what I found interesting and worth my time. This Hulk was not tragic or poetic or flawed. He was almost all monster. But neither, then, was this Bruce Banner tragic or poetic or flawed. Rather, there was a level of pathetic about Bruce Banner that led almost--Almost, Gentle Reader!--to disgust on the viewer's part. He was not a tragic hero, or an anti-hero, or stuck in a bad situation. He was unable to take care of himself, even on the most basic of levels. It seemed almost an Ultimates version of Bruce Banner more than anything else.

What I didn't: This movie had No Sense of Timing. That is to say, even in those moments that would have been funny (if they had not been all revealed in the trailers), the actors and directing plowed through them without so much as a By Your Leave. By the time the viewer got the reference, the next scene was already taking place.

I was with the movie at least half-heartedly until the big fight scene commenced, and there, the movie completely lost me. It was uninteresting and predictable and in my opinion, meant nothing to the movie but big Hulk Smash and Grab. Holding this up not only to the beautiful and poignant Ang Lee's Hulk but also to Dark Knight, Iron Man, Superman Returns, Hellboy, X-Men II, Spider-Man II, all of the really fantastic comic book movies out there and you see how comic book movies are Supposed To Be Made. Even without The Origin Story Problem, as The Incredible Hulk skipped past the Origin Story and straight to Story, this movie failed to connect with This Humble Viewer, at least.

But I am, Friends, very, very excited about the upcoming Wonder Woman animated film, and Iron Man II, Thor, Avengers, and of course, Watchmen. And I hope that one day, The Flash movie focusing on My Beloved Wally West will actually be a reality.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of October 12th, 2008)

Mea culpa, Gentle Reader. Mr. Reads mocks my inability to begin blog posts with anything but an apology for my recent abandonment of You, Most Constant Of Readers, but I am, dare I say? Too Busy to even dabble in pop culture, much less read comics. I watch my shows, and that is all, so thus, I offer you these pieces of insight.

Where have all the good shows gone?

This is not a judgment on New TV. I believe that several new shows have brought an extraordinary amount of talent to the scene. The Mentalist, Fringe, and Life on Mars (although We Reads are such a fan of the British version that we may sour of the American version quickly) are all Rather Good, and demonstrate the Potential For Greatness.

Nor is this a judgment on Old TV. Supernatural is a show that just gets better and better each episode, so much so that We Reads find ourselves comparing it to That Giant of Television, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Office gets better each episode, and we eagerly anticipate the return of 30 Rock.

Of the new-ish shows, j'adore Life, and The Middle Man (any word on its return, Friends?), and Terminator, and Pushing Daisies. But I find myself straying from Tried and True shows such as Heroes, which has recently (just!) been dropped from Our Weekly Lineup.


Because it bores, Friends, truly, utterly, and completely. It has lost sight of what is interesting and has instead gone for what it thinks the fans want. On the cusp is True Blood, because while I very much liked the early books in Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series, I find the television show to focus less on the neat oddness of this world she had created, and more on the sex oddness of the world it adapted from Harris's vision.

Mr. Reads and I take guilty pleasure in culling series from our Lineup, because as one can see with the rather long sidebar to the right, we have many, many series to choose from. But I do not enjoy losing a series, because Gentle Reader, that implies that perhaps, just perhaps, some quality has been lost.

I am out of town next weekend for a Blast from the Past, so I will attempt to offer a mid-week column instead of my (somewhat aberrant) weekly column. Until then, Friends, happy pop culturing, and happy presidential debating.