Thursday, April 20, 2006

You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Ang Lee

[Now Experiencing] [Film]

I just finally got around to watching Hulk, as directed by Ang Lee, and having done that, I'm not even going to dignify it with a review.

I was tricked into watching it by the opinions of this fellow, who generally seems to have good taste in most things. In relation to Hulk, though, he was full of hideous dirty lies. (Sorry I can't provide a link to his review; it was some time ago and now buried somewhere in his blog archives. If anyone turns it up let me know and I'll change the linkage.)

Oh, sure, it makes use of some interesting wipes and frame-in-frame techniques to achieve a fairly authentic comic-book screen layout. But this one unique and good aspect is then buried under:

a) A hideous script that completely misses the point of what makes the Hulk good. Bruce Banner should be an everyman, a scientist who strives to improve the lot of humankind, while at the same time struggling with a terrible anger problem. He's turned into the Hulk when saving a civilian from the effects of the gamma bomb he designed; the monster is born from a simultaneous act of compassion and act of destruction, and remains eternally poised between mankind's capacity to do good and its instinct to destroy. He's a man who's been looking for a fight to pick his entire life, and he finally has no reason not to and the power to win. He's an unstoppable force looking for a wall big enough to beat against. And all this is completely sidestepped by the unfocused and meandering script, with its nanomeds and pre-natal treatments, and hideous pacing and unnecessary characters.

b) Completely wooden acting from Eric Bana in the role of Bruce/the Hulk. For a character so totally driven by his emotions, Eric does a fine job of making sure we never actually see any of said emotions.

c) Horribly visual stylings. The Hulk should live in a world of blacks and whites. Sure, the military may say there's shades of gray, and that sometimes you have to do bad to do good, but the Hulk is there to remind them that no, there's good and there's bad and they're different things. But Ang Lee has chosen to make a grittily realistic world completely unsuited to the bright primary colours inherent in the genre.

d) The soundtrack. Danny Elfman does a great job at making interesting music; unfortunately it's the same interesting music that appeared in the Spider-Man movies, and completely unsuited to the moody claustrophobic rage-driven atmosphere of the Hulk's world.

So, in short, if anyone tries to tell you that this movie is not complete drivel, you should laugh in their face, and then kick them. Not even Jennifer Connelly could make this movie interesting, and... well, that's saying something. Avoid it at all costs.

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