Monday, June 23, 2008
A Truly Incredible Hulk of a Movie
So, we can take for granted that somewhere out there in Tinseltown, some Machiavellian studio executive has a collection of really rare original Incredible Hulk comic books. He had his people buy them up back in the early 90's when the comic book movie thing had hit really big, and he was sure that cornering the market in Hulking memorabilia had him sitting on a gold mine when the big green guy finally made it to the cineplexes.
And then Ang Lee took the story and sensitively created his own hybrid - Sense and Sensibility/Ice Storm/Brokeback meets Shazam/Wonder Twins, which audiences promptly rejected as an irreconcilable merger of tone and arena. Comic book geeks tell me with verbal renting of garments that Ang Lee ruined the Hulk. So, maybe our green-lighting studio exec is really a closet comic geek who just had to give the pure mythic potential of Bruce Bannon's struggle not to let his pulse rate get too high one more hundred million dollar shot at silver screen immortality.
One would think, then, that in getting a second chance to tell the story, so soon after the recent blunder, that the folks behind this new version would have had a genius story idea or something. You know, some kind of brilliant element in their pitch that would justify doing this again. It somehow needed to be substantially better than the Ang Lee failure, otherwise, what the %$#! are we doing coaxing audiences out to see it again?
(This image - of underutilized and anyways, badly miscast, Hulk star, Edward Norton, reminds me of moviegoers everywhere meditating on this latest movie, trying to figure out what the pitch was like that got Universal to try this one again.)
There isn't anything in this latest telling to shame Ang Lee. In fact, Lee's attempt is arguably better, because t least one had some degree of empathy for the main characters in that piece. There wasn't a lot, but at least the whole father-son thing made him somewhat sympathetic. Also, Lee's movie had good acting, which this one does not. And Lee's movie made sense - arguably too much sense for the genre - whereas this one is ridiculous in all the wrong places for a comic book piece.
The only answer I could come up with as to why they remade this piece is as an answer to the question, "What will the 13 year old boys watch at the movies this week?" And the corollary, "How can we get the 13 year old boys to by a video game if we don't do a feature film launch of it?"
A true hulking bore of a loud, tedious movie. Pass.