Wednesday, December 18, 2013
I saw Ang Lee's Hulk, that mostly-forgotten superhero movie that came out back when superhero movies were a big a deal, for the first time the other night (don't ask why, just one of those blockbusters that slipped away). It's a movie that a number of respected critics admired, but that audiences disliked so much that a reboot was put together just five years later. My feelings are decidedly mixed on the film. In short, I'm with those critics who liked it because I appreciated the slow, thoughtful first half, but I also found that whenever the movie tried to please the mainstream, the results were borderline disastrous. It takes a full hour for the first action scene to arrive (a welcome surprise), but when it does it turns out to be a pretty weak one. Clearly one of the selling action scenes in the film (and the only one where we can see Hulk in full-combat mode), Hulk faces off against three horribly animated mutant dogs who are going after Betty, Bruce Banner's love interest. The vicious battle is set in the woods at night, and the combination of clumsy CGI and poor lighting makes what could have been a really excellent action scene a muddied and chaotic one. And in general, the big problem I have with the film are the frustrating special effects (Hulk himself isn't bad, but everything else, especially the power-absorbing monster that Nick Nolte turns into at the end, is dreadful), and the action scenes that take up the final hour of the film. They're just not that much fun to watch. It's not because they're too loud, like in Man of Steel, but rather because they're just a bit mundane and ordinary. Still, I appreciated that the movie never actually tries to wow the viewer with bigger, and better things, but simply tells it story from beginning to end.