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.


The Scale said...

I pretty much agree with your take on Hulk and Incredible Hulk. It seems the complaint about the first Hulk film was that there wasn't enough comic book action. In the new film, they saturated it with comic book action at the expense of just about everything else. They were trying to make the anti-Ang-Lee Hulk, apparently forgetting that, in the last film, Ang Lee wasn't the problem (nor were the actors).

But because everything is politics, they wanted to distance themselves from the maligned earlier film... like Gore from Clinton or McCain from Bush.

Son of Baldwin said...


The meditation of the anger within by Ang Lee was GENIUS. I, too, appreciated his take.