Hulk (2003)

We’re Going to Have to Watch That Temper of Yours

I’m pretty sure that this movie ties up my series preparing for the release of the Avengers movie, but I did not endeavor to save the best for last.  Today’s movie was despised by nerds, but you didn’t come here for the opinion of nerds.  You came for the opinion of only one nerd.  I had not watched today’s movie since when I had seen it in theaters, and I really only remember that I liked the second movie much better, and that we did not see the titular character until about 50 minutes into the movie.  That is not a good sign.  Let’s see what I thought of Hulk, written by Michael France, John Turman, and James Schamus, directed by Ang Lee, and starring Eric Bana, Nick Nolte, Sam Elliott, Jennifer Connelly, Josh Lucas, Cara Buono, Celia Weston, Johnny Kastl, Lou Ferrigno, and Stan Lee.

David Banner is a geneticist and a douche bag.  He’s a geneticist because he’s doing experiments to take special qualities from animals and mix it with human DNA.  He’s a douche bag because he tries it on himself and passes it down to his son.  When his boss, Lieutenant Colonel “Thunderbolt” Ross, finds out, he shuts down his research.  David overreacts a little bit and sets off a giant explosion in their gamma reactor, drives home, and stabs his wife in the chest.  He’s put in the looney bin and his son, Bruce (Eric Bana), is raised by foster mom (Celia Weston) until he becomes a successful bionuclear researcher.  Things get a little crazy for him at the facility when the military-industrial complex representative, Major Talbot (Josh Lucas), starts wanting to get their research, and the janitor turns out to be a much more grizzled version of his father (Nick Nolte).  It’s also not that easy working with his ex-girlfriend, Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly), daughter of now-General “Thunderbolt” Ross (Sam Elliott).  And things just get worse when he steps in front of a gamma blast to save his friend after a lab accident and he starts turning into a big, green thing when angry.

There were some things about this movie that worked, but the greater majority of them did not.  One big issue is not so much the story, but certainly the writing.  The biggest issue I had with the movie when I saw it in theaters carried over to irritate me again.  The Hulk is not shown until 42 minutes into the movie.  This movie is about him, or at least that’s what I was lead to believe by the title.  It’s supposed to be about a big, green thing smashing things that made it angry.  Instead, we watched a movie mainly about David Banner and the effects he had on other people.  But don’t worry.  If you came for lots of smashing you’ll get lots and lots of … people doing scientific experiments.  When the Hulk finally shows up, he just makes a mess of a laboratory and leaves.  Then you have another 20 minutes until you see him again.  This time, he actually decides to smash something.  That something is three ridiculous looking mutated dogs.  There are many things I want to see when the Hulk smashes giant mutant dogs.  I would be happy with blood, guts, bile, and any number of bodily fluids.  I would even be content with you just doing it off camera to keep the movie PG.  What I’m not too keen on is them just exploding into green pixie dust.  It was kind of cool that he broke one of the dog’s jaws by flexing until it dislocated.  You’re not really going to get any kind of real satisfaction from the Hulk until he starts fighting the military.  That bit of action was fairly well done, but also about two hours in.  I’m not happy that the Hulk is somehow concerned about making sure that a jet doesn’t crash into the Golden Gate Bridge after it had just been attacking him.  I understand that parts of Banner are still in the Hulk, but the Hulk should be thinking, “Fuck that guy.”  I guess the Hulk wouldn’t say that … just like he wouldn’t say, “Puny human,” because the Hulk himself is (in a way) human.  The Hulk says, “Puny Banner,” when he comes out of a mirror in a dream sequence and chokes Banner.  And then we get to the ending, causing me to throw up some ::SPOILER ALERT::  David Banner has done an experiment on himself to give himself powers, making him able to absorb energies.  He turns into a giant electrical thing to fight the Hulk and try to absorb his energy.  The Hulk responds with a line that they stole from Jiz Soaked Jezebels 14 and says, “Take it all!”  He then somehow releases a bunch of energy jiz into him which inexplicably makes a giant bubble of water out of the lake they were in that then explodes into green pixie dust.  Fuck that ending in the butt.  ::END SPOILERS::

The biggest problem with this movie is that it was WAY over-directed and poorly planned.  Ang Lee got obsessed with the artist direction of this movie, making it look like a comic book with interesting transitions, multiple panels on screen, and various camera angles happening at the same time.  It was a very interesting art project, but a super boring movie that needed to remember that it was about the Hulk.  It all has a good look to it, but at a certain point I started thinking, “Would you just knock it off and play the movie already?”  The BluRay of the movie did make it extra beautiful to look at.  In a lot of the opening, they decide that the audience needs some random close-ups of algae and trees.  It looked so good in HD that it made me wish I was just watching one of those Planet Earth movies instead of someone inexplicably putting these things into a Hulk movie.  We know that this character came from comic books, but we’re not reading the comic books.  We’re watching a movie, so just make a movie and not a hybrid of the two.  The CG characters (like the Hulk and the dogs) look good sometimes, but also occasionally don’t appear to be part of the scene.  And when Talbot’s character has something explode behind him and Ang decided he would do a freeze frame of him a-la Charlie’s Angels, that was just stupid.

Sometimes, when I see the cast they’ve attained for a comic book movie, I get really disappointed.  Other times – as with this movie, the X-Men movies, and the new Batman movies – I get excited that they actually got some good actors to elevate this comic book movie past it’s station.  I was about half right with this movie.  I was excited that Eric Bana was in the movie because his last name is so close to the character he’s portraying, which means he’ll definitely do a good job at it.  He did a good job throughout the movie but one scene was just bad.  It was when he had just beat up the green pixie-dogs, turns back into Banner, has a little anger freak out, and starts choking Betty for no reason whatsoever.  Jennifer Connelly was great and very real all the way through, but I can’t really look at her anymore without seeing some old guy saying, “Ass to ass.”  Nick Nolte did a decent enough job … until the end of the movie when he and Bruce are having a conversation and Nolte does a little mock pout thing.  That was funny, but it probably wasn’t the place for funny.  Josh Lucas played a decent enough asshole, and Sam Elliott was pretty good as General Ross.

This movie had a chance but, let’s be honest, Ang Lee fucked this thing up.  The story could have been alright with a little more smashing and the performances were mostly good.  The real problem with this movie is that Ang Lee was asked to do it right when he was finishing film school so he wanted to be able to submit this movie.  Pretty, but pretentious.  And just boring.  You don’t need to see this movie.  Watch the Incredible Hulk instead.  It wasn’t nearly as pretty, but my Hulk movies involve mostly smashing.  So fuck this movie, but make love to the Incredible Hulk.  Hulk gets “Oh, some more repressed memories” out of “Bad science, maybe.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Let Me In (2010)

I’ve Been Twelve For A Very Long Time

Today’s movie is a movie I’ve been putting off for a while now. It’s a remake of a Swedish movie I really liked and I was worried that they messed it up. Yeah, that’s right. I’ve seen a foreign film or two. What of it?! I liked the original so much (even though it was in Swedish) that I wanted to see the American remake but the friend of mine that turned me on to the Swedish one told me the remake was shit. But I still wanted to see it and now I have. Let’s talk about Let Me In – the American remake of the Swedish film Let The Right One In – and it was written and directed by Matt Reeves, and stars Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Moretz, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas, Cara Buono, and Sasha Barrese.

In Los Alamos, New Mexico, Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a strange, lonely 12-year-old boy. One day he sees an older guy and a young girl move in to the apartment complex he lives in. While sitting outside, the young girl, Abby (Chloe Moretz) approaches him and tells him they can’t be friends, but they slowly become friends anyway. One day, we watch Abby’s father, Thomas (Richard Jenkins) go out and kill a guy in a ritualistic fashion, draining his blood into a jug, but he trips and spills most of it. Later, Owen and Abby are talking in the apartment’s park area and her stomach starts making noise like she just ate at Taco Bell. Shortly after, Abby is crying as a jogger approaches. She tells him that she fell down and hurt herself and asks if he’d carry her. When he tries to, she pounces on him and eats him. Turns out this young girl is a vampire, and technically not a girl. She/he/it – let’s just make that “shit” instead – eventually confesses it to Owen and it causes their relationship to get a bit rocky. Things begin to escalate as shit’s need to feed starts drawing police attention back to shit, and Owen must figure out where he stands in the situation.

Let’s talk about the original a bit. Let The Right One In was the rare movie that I can like even though I have to read subtitles. I hate reading subtitles and it will hurt my opinion of almost any movie that makes me do it. But Let The Right One In managed. And I would say that Let Me In manages not to screw it up too much, regardless to what my friend had told me. The main reason it didn’t screw it up – and what could also be one of the biggest negatives of the movie to some – is that this is almost the same movie with different actors and in English. The look is the same, the story is the same, the characters are mostly the same; it’s almost the same movie. They changed it to New Mexico, probably because no one in America could pronounce the name of the town the original happened in, and it otherwise changed nothing in the movie. All of the settings looked exactly like the original movie. The apartment building, the school, the lake, the forest; all looked the same. They changed the names of the characters, but the characters themselves are the same. So the best and the worst thing about this movie is the fact that it’s the exact same movie. I liked the original and probably wouldn’t want it to have changed drastically, but, on the other hand, why do it? I can watch the original, and I can probably find it in English. So if you’re not going to change it at all, why bother?

I like the story of this/these movies a lot. It’s a horror movie but also a little bit of a love story. Even though they’re only twelve (more or less) and one of them has no gender, the two of them are kind of in love and have to overcome this minor problem of Abby’s need to kill people for food. Vampires have been done to death by this point, but it made me happy to see a return to a more classic interpretation of vampires than, say, one that makes the vampire glitter like a sparklefart when outside. How do these movies handle it? They fuckin’ burst into flames! The way Satan intended! Abby isn’t able to handle regular food, she goes nuts at the sight of blood, is super strong and pale, and – a much less used part of the myth – must be invited into a house or she’ll start bleeding from the eyes. I also like the question that’s in the background of this movie: is what Abby does wrong? You immediately jump to the fact that she’s killing people as a bad thing, but she’s also just trying to survive. Owen thinks she’s evil at first but slowly gets on board with it. I think I could too. I could befriend a vampire and (though I wouldn’t help her do it) I would look the other way as long as she didn’t try to eat me.

The look of this movie is mostly well done. It, of course, is very similar to Let The Right One In, but it duplicates it nicely. Its really dark at night and almost bleached white during the day, but neither in a way that made it hard to watch. When I found out that it was supposed to take place in New Mexico it got me wondering just how often it snows down there. I’ve not spent very much time in New Mexico, but this entire movie is covered in snow. I believed it when it was in Sweden, but I would normally assume New Mexico is not a snowy place. I could be wrong. If nothing else, it’s probably a pretty sunny place during the summer and thus probably not the best place for a vampire to move. As much as it pains me to defend the Twilight series, at least they went with a notoriously cloudy place for the vampires to live in. The negative side to the look of the movie was the visual effects. They were not that great. The two occasions where Abby viciously attacks someone for food it’s a pretty poorly executed computer generated creature. Also, Abby’s evil vampire face was not that well done. I thought this was odd because I’m pretty sure this movie had more money going in than the original but they did them better. Some of the gore was well done though.

I don’t pay much mind to sound in movies, but I did notice it was typically not good here. It was really loud and grating to build atmosphere, but it was typically louder than the really quiet characters. You can’t make your background music so loud when characters only ever whisper to each other. The music that the characters played was all 80’s music (because it takes place in the 80’s) and so I liked that.

The performances were mostly solid. I didn’t like the main kid in either this movie or the original. They’re really peculiar and effeminate and I don’t like it. You kinda want to feel bad for the kid because he’s getting picked on, but he might not get picked on so much if he weren’t a skeevy perv that looks through a telescope at his neighbors getting it on. Also, he kinda looks like a chick. I like Chloe Moretz though. I think she’ll haveta work pretty hard to go against her role as Hit Girl to make me dislike her. Plus, she did a fine job here so it wasn’t even really chipping away at her lofty Hit Girl performance. One thing bothered me about her character though: if you can’t get cold, and you tell people you walk around in the snow in shorts with no shoes because you can’t get cold, why the hell do you wear a jacket? I might be nitpicking. I liked Richard Jenkins as Abby’s “father” too. Everyone else didn’t make much of an impact on me though.

Regardless of what Jordan told me, this movie was not bad. I might actually be willing to call it good. There were solid performances supporting a great story and a nice atmosphere, but lost me a bit with some bad visual effects and some annoying sound. But I think what Jordan had been saying was that the worst part of this movie was that there was no reason to make it. If you don’t mind reading subtitles, watch Let The Right One In instead. Even if you do mind reading subtitles, so do I, and I still liked the original. But, if they bother you SO much, I think you’ll be okay with this one. I’ll give this movie “I need blood to live” out of “You kill people.”

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