Sunday, April 20, 2008

Puny Fanboys. Hulk Smash

Cat got your tongue? The comments have been spookily quiet lately. Perhaps April is just too early for most of TFE's actress-loving readership to care about superhero / genre movies. Maybe you don't care at all. But just for the 10% of you who do... there's a couple more posts on the capes and tights brigade. Speaking of spandex...

Shouldn't Bruce Banner have looked into stretchier materials decades ago? Banner got into personal branding way earlier than the rest of civilization. Did he ever go a day without wearing purple pants? I color corrected this statue (meant to be life size) that will be accompanying Iron Man into certain theaters nationwide on May 2nd because the statue was disappointingly faded green all over --no vibrant color allowed. His pants were the same color as his skin which made this hulking monstrosity look a little nude from a distance. [NSFW tangent: speaking of nekked Hulks I was curious about artists getting their freak on with the Hulk the way people do with Disney creations but it's really only She Hulk that inspires NSFW passion]

The Incredible Hulk Comic Con presentation was actually quite interesting. It was like a petri dish -- or perhaps we should say experimental serum composed --of corporate nerves, fanboy second-guessing, and PR sculpting. They put to rest some long running internet speculations: Yes, Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) IS in this movie as well as starring in his own. They proved it with a miniscule clip. And though they didn't say it outright, they implied rather giddily that Hulk will utter his famous "puny humans. Hulk smash" catchphrase. Lou Ferrigno TV's long-running green giant from the late 70s will also be appearing in the film and he made a brief well-received cameo at the event as well.

It makes sense. When I first saw the official poster (pictured) I felt it was incredibly '78 television-like rather and listening to the panel, especially director Louis Letterier (The Transporter), it was clear that the series was more of an inspiration to them than Ang Lee's version. And the television series was more The Fugitive-like than a direct Marvel comic transfer.

Distorted corporate perceptions?

Marvel and Universal have two major obstacles to smash (persistent rumors of fights with Ed Norton and memories of Ang Lee's film) and they don't seem too worried about collateral damage. Perhaps they've been hit by gamma rays as well? They're rampaging beasts when it comes to Ang Lee. I was pretty angry listening to the venom of fans (they actually booed a Q & A person who dared to suggest that Ang Lee's film had some merits) and the disparagement from the new and less renowned filmmaking team. Even if you hated Ang Lee's version (and it did skimp on the action --which is basically the principal selling point of a huge violent beast-hero) the man deserves respect. One only has to compare his filmography to anyone else's to realize that throwing stones is a dangerous impulse...

Puny directors, Auteur smash!

They also vehemently denied the rifts with Ed Norton but it didn't convince this cynical audience member. Paraphrasing one of the panelists "Would he have really showed up to recent ADDR sessions if he was upset?" Um... if you're trying to convince me that Ed Norton is sweet as pie to work with and totally loves your movie, maybe you shouldn't be implying that he's the type of multi-million dollar star that just doesn't show up for work if he's at all displeased. Oops. The studio doth protest too much.

They showed three scenes for the crowd: the last was an itty-bitty Tony Stark scene. The first was a short exposition heavy scene in which Tim Roth (who was wonderful on the panel --I'd forgotten what an engaging presence he is. Can't wait to see him again onscreen) as Emil Blonsky is injected with experimental serum which will eventually transform him into Hulk's arch-nemesis The Abomination...

The best footage was from a lengthy unfinished battle scene. You can catch glimpses of it in the trailer, too. Banner is trapped in an overhead walkway, attacked with gas, transforms into the green giant and battles military types with jeeps and heavy weaponry and then finally the extremely agile soldier Emil Blonsky (who is not yet The Abomination). It was fairly intense if not particularly dazzling in terms of action choreography. Story-wise it seemed to be an early scene. Liv Tyler was shown briefly in the dull Jennifer Connelly part looking beautiful and concerned. (That's probably the whole performance. Superhero films are not good to women). The filmmakers have clearly taken the "not enough action" complaints from the 2003 film to heart and I'm guessing that this one will be jam-packed, like King Kong overkill. They promise a 20 minute final battle between Hulk and the Abomination.

Can't recognize Tim Roth there? He did facial capture hi-tech acting so
hopefully some of him will come through CGI...even in mutated brawls.

Twenty minutes! Few are the filmmakers that can sustain action sequences above seven or eight. I hope they studied Tarantino's Kill Bill Volume 1, James Cameron's um...anything and Jackson circa Lord of the Rings. You have to be mega talented and inventive to turn battle sequences into showstopping ever-evolving rhythmic setpieces. Otherwise the movie feels like it's gone on loop. Action sequences should not be the ideal time for bathroom breaks. If I sound overly negative, my apologies. The clips were enough to give me my first real interest in the film, Hulk never being a particular favorite.

More Comic Con Posts:
Wall•E is a Beau-Ty -It looks like Pixar may have done it again
Super Women or Cheap Whores -genre land isn't kind to the ladies


Anonymous said...

We've not gone away - you just don't need us to comment on your work.

I'm with you on Ang Lee's film - one of the best visual adaptations of a comic strip. Shame about the story (tried too hard) and the action pieces (or lack of).

Not sure about this one, especially if they're aiming for the feel of the series with the plot of the comics. Too different styles may just confuse the whole.

What's next on your schedule? Dark Knight, Wanted, Happening, anyhting else I'm actually looking forward to?


"you just don't need us to comment"

hmmmm. i actually really enjoy reading comments. Makes writing feel less lonely [PITY PARTY! woot]

I'm not going to COMIC CON today (the last day). I had had enough. but I'll probably do one more wrap up post with various tidbits.

I didn't see the WANTED preview because Lucasfilms all but snuffed out my desire to live with their cheap, stingy presentation. I had to take a break. the new Indiana Jones movie got about 5 minutes of chatter and then they only showed the trailer. BOOOoooooooooo. You can watch that on YOUTUBE. People without press passes are paying $40+ to get into these conventions. Give them something damnit!

They deserve actual scoops or at least something more than a 2 minute commercial that they can see at home if they pay the money, you know?


Tim Roth was adorable. When Lou Ferrigno came out he held up his own arm and feigned despair at his lack of comparable biceps.

Robert said...

I kinda get the feeling that any Hulk movie may be doomed by the material.

With superhero movies the question is always whether to go the route of realims or just embrace the silliness. With Hulk, the heavy emotional themes can't fit into the silly model. And the man turns into giant green thing can't fit into the realism model.

On another note, I admit I am a rabid Batman fan. And while nothing tops my anticipation for The Dark Knight this summer (if this movie isn't the greatest thing since sliced bread, fanboys are going to overthrow the world) I'm really starting to look forward to Iron Man (a comic book that I read absolutely none of as a child).

This summer is either going to help prolong the superhero movie trend or kill it outright.

^^that's probably not true. But hyperbole makes things fun!

Robert said...

Also, if you take a close-up of that Hulk comic book cover, it looks like the Sub-Mariner is throwing the disembodied head of Hulk at you in the upper left corner.


"that's probably not true but hyperbole makes things fun!"

Robert, I love you.


I personally think that Hulk is going to be a smash BECAUSE of IRON MAN. I know expectations are big on Iron Man but I think it's going to be bigger than even people are expecting, wetting appetites inappropriately large for what the Hulk will then deliver.

my prediction.

Anonymous said...

I can't help much with the comments, I'm not a big fan of superhero movies. I didn't see Ang Lee's Hulk and I don't intend to see this one. As much as I like Edward Norton, I just don't see him as the superhero type.

And also my (very) limited love for comic book movies ended with 300. It was the kind of movie not only I didn't like at all, but made me feel angry. The kind of movie you feel you're being fooled from the beginning to the end.

However, that said, probably neither of them can equal the 90s Batman saga in underusing (?) good actors: Kidman, Clooney, Thurman, Lee-Jones...


Anonymous said...

I have to say that I raelly liked Ang Lee's Hulk (please don't boo!), and the parts I didn't like were the actions sequences. I'm a pretty intense person, and I suffered through pretty harsh father figures growing up, so it definitely hit a chord.

You try to hold the darkness and the anger down, but then, POP! there it goes, and there YOU go, punching (or in my case, getting punched), and I thought Lee's film really hit that well. Loved the part where he destroys the arrogant little weapons' tech prick! :)