Cinecultist sat down over IM to discuss the summer blockbuster the Hulk and the consensus was not good for this newest installment in the Stan Lee/Marvel Comics to screen franchise despite its 62 million dollar gross thus far. We discussed the film's lackluster acting, irritating comic book editing style and the confusion over the Hulk's gravity defying pants.
Karen: How much did you dislike the Hulk?
Jordan: SO MUCH
Karen: Wow, all caps.
Jordan: Really, I despised it. Yes, caps were called for.
Karen: I thought it was pretty damn bad too. But, perplexingly so.
Jordan: Yes, I really wanted it to be decent. I liked Ang Lee's framing technique...for about half an hour. And then I was irritated.
Karen: Yeah, K and I couldn't figure out if we thought that was good or not. Interesting but irritating sort of like, we got the idea that it was supposed to be comic book-esque but distracting nonetheless.
Jordan: I think it was the best thing about the film, but it still irritated me.
Karen: Iíd read they spent a lot of time shooting all these angles to get the coverage necessary. But they should have worked on the script instead. (James) Schamus [the scriptwriter and producer] shame on you!
Jordan: Yes, I agree. The dialogue was painful to listen to. Some of the camera work was pretty amazing, and the dissolves were, for the most part, excellent.
Karen: Yeah, I suppose. But I thought it was a little forced in the "Zen-like" qualities of the Hulk. Letís pause for a moment to contemplate the lichen. What was up with that?
Jordan: And what was with Jennifer C.? Did she allergies? People are NOT that weepy all the time --- ummm, connection with nature? Evolution? Self-sustaining? (I think lichens can exist without anything else, they somehow sustain themselves.)
Karen: Some of the scenes she wept from the wrong place. Like they'd put drops in her. I don't think people cry out the corners of their eyes. Tears are supposed to well up and then fall over the cheeks.
Jordan: Yeah, I agree. She has beautiful eyes, but they didn't need to be all teary every second.
Karen: I spent the last 20 minutes trying to figure out what makeup they used on her. Eyeliner of some sort, but couldn't determine the color conclusively. White maybe, or pale blue? Something.
Jordan: It was very odd. And her hair seemed to change lengths and texture.
Karen: But can we try to decipher the plot here? Or is it just not worth it?
Jordan: Letís try.
Karen:You go. Iím still at a loss. Something about absorbing ambient energy... Eh?
Jordan: Do we want themes or what happened/plot?
Karen: Whatever. Iím still flabbergasted at the impenetrability.
Jordan: Okay, so crazy Nick wanted to improve on human DNA, somehow make it more resistant to trauma etc. so he experiments on himself, gets his wife pregnant and passes on his Hulk-ness to little Bruce. He gets fired, sets a bomb/explosion thing, goes home, tries to kill Bruce, and ends up turning into the Hulk himself and actually killing his wife when she saves Bruce. Off crazy Nick goes to jail. Bruce grows up. Becomes a scientist. Working with gamma radiation and nanomeds (microscopic medicine?) to try and make cell regeneration work. Doesnít really work. Gets accidentally zapped with the radiation, which make his weird, fucked up DNA "active"...or something. Then Jennifer starts to cry and Bruce looks dense.
Karen: I like your explanation of when it all falls apart. Ok, I think I got all that. Itís just when they try to stop the Hulk but he's unstoppable and then what happens to crazy Nick as the rock man Hulk that I don't get
Jordan: Donít really understand exactly what branch of the military Sam Elliot was in.
Cavalry? What the hell is that?
Karen: Yeah, that sequence, with the helicopters and the ravine, was like King Kong gone very wrong. And why weren't there environmentalists protesting over the senseless disintegration of what surely was a preserved space? Sam Elliot was in the crazy branch of the military, all kinds of crackers in that movie.
Jordan: Okay, here's how I see it: crazy Nick also has fucked up DNA, but his isn't as stable as Bruceís. So, when he zaps himself with radiation, he doesn't become the Hulk, rather some strange, energy-sucking entity whose cells merges and turn into whatever he comes into contact with (metal, rocks, water). He wants to suck up Bruceís Hulk-ness/energy so HE can be the Hulk. I think. And yes, that was a national park they leveled. My mum's been there. He seems like he would be a good mate for Mystique in X-Men.
Karen: See, your mom should have had a picket sign or something out there. But am I wrong in saying that all of this has no narrative logic whatsoever? Like it leaves the realm of sort of plausible and goes somewhere else entirely?
Jordan: Oh, absolutely. Itís a complete blank.
Karen: And that we weren't to expect that? I mean X-Men is far fetched and so is Spiderman but on different plains, no?
Jordan: Well, Spiderman was implausible, but somehow you got sucked in and believed that if a spider bit Tobey, he would eventually become spidery
Karen: Right. It made sense. In comic book world.
Karen: I think it's all this posturing about being scientists that fouls me up. I expect them to be unfailingly reasonable.
Jordan: And Spiderman had definite good guys and bad guys, also a must in comic-book land. I mean, was the Hulk good? Bad? Confused?
Karen: I donít know.
Jordan: I did like the opening science sequence... It was pretty to watch, even though it made no sense.
Karen: Yes. The whole beginning of the film was very tight. But there was this element too to the filmís themes that was pure psychobabble. Like the repressed man just needs to get on the couch to be cured.
Jordan: God, yes. Shall we discuss the acting? Or lack thereof? I wanted to slap Eric Bana. He was so bland and boring. I can read lines better than that.
Karen: But Bana has a nice ass, as we could see. Very shiny.
Jordan: I think they just picked him up off the street after he was arrested for smoking crack.
Karen: His jaw is square too. Does that count for anything? Guess not.
Jordan: No. He's a bit big and beefy for me, more along the lines of Vin Diesel. He looks dumb as toast.
Karen: Now that's dumb
Jordan: And, except for A Beautiful Mind, I like Jennifer. What was she thinking?
Karen: I don't know.
Karen: Sheís pretty but...wow. Talk about phoning it in.
Jordan: I understand wanting to work with Ang Lee, but for god's sake, wait for a better film, woman!
Karen: Now Nick, on the other hand. Was there any scenery he didn't chomp on? What was he exactly? A baboon of some sort?
Jordan: He was crazy.
Karen: My friend S described him as "Norma Desmond" like. I think itís apt.
Jordan: Yes, I can see that.
Karen: But that hairdo -- serious crazy hair.
Jordan: But he was perfect for the part...very mad scientist-esque. I mean, the part sucked, but he did sufficiently nuts.
Karen: But I fear that it's not much of a stretch for him, you know what I mean?
Jordan: Sadly, yes.
Jordan: I think Nick is one of those people I wouldn't want to meet on the street. I think I would be hauling ass the other way. He creeps me out.
Karen:Seriously. Sam Elliot was also completely whack.
Jordan:Yes, yes he was.
Karen: All that growling, it was almost noisier than 2 Fast 2 Furious' cars revving.
Jordan: But he's always growly. Remember the Big Lebowski? Though I agree, his growling was highlighted
Karen:Yeah, but this is a different level of growling. Deeper. Crazier.
Jordan:Crazy cavalry growlin'?
Karen:Something. What else? Iím at a loss. Or should I say lost. In the movie I mean.
Jordan: Well, it was god-awful long, at least it felt that way.
Karen: Dude, way way way too long. 40 minutes, at least, too long.
Jordan: 138 minutes?!!! Thatís crazy.
Karen: Thatís long for Scorsese or something. PT Anderson territory here.
Karen: I think basically our assessment here is Hulk=CRAZY, in caps.
Jordan: Yes, good assessment. Do you think it was worse than Alex & Emma, or can we not compare?
Karen: Different realms of suckage.
Jordan: Yeah, I agree.
Karen: At least Hulk tried. Which almost made it worse.
Jordan: So true.
Karen: Like, Ang meant to make a good movie but somehow the experiment went horribly awry.
Jordan: Did you know he turned down T3 to make this?
Karen: While Rob Reiner just thought we were dumb and would just sit there and take that level of abuse.
Jordan: Good point.
Karen: So, T3 looks like itís going to suck ass too. Iím not looking forward to it. And its ass sucking.
Jordan: True. I like Nick Stahl, though.
Karen: Heís your type of paleness. Needs some serious SPF? Jordanís kind of fellow. Have we abandoned all hope on sorting out the Hulk? Is it unsortable?
Karen: Kaboom, don't mind the plot holes folks, we'll just have some nuclear explosions to distract you...
Jordan: Destroy some Natíl parks; show some bare Australian ass to distract you.
Karen: We were talking a lot about the pants issue today at work, but I think that's the least of the movie's issues.
Jordan: But an intriguing one. They just defied reason.
Karen: Are they on, are they off? Do they expand? Are they made of some sort of spandex? Do they dissolve?
Jordan: I was so confused.
Karen: The whole lack of caring about the Hulkís perspective in relation to everything around him reminded me a lot of King Kong too. Which you can understand explains why the surrealists loved King Kong. But for Hulk that doesn't really work. How big is he exactly?
Jordan: I think he grew. When they shot him.
Karen: Also, what was up with Mr. Sweet Home Alabama? Also crackers?
Jordan: And his streaky hair! He was cute in SHA.
Karen: Does he like Jenny C? Whatís his vendetta about? Is he also a scientist?
Jordan: I think he's military. I think he has a crush-from-afar on Jenny C.
Karen: Why doesn't the beating from the Hulk slow him down more? Does he really think he's getting that pokey thing into the Hulk's head? Logic-less.
Jordan: The hair streaking bleached some brain cells.
Karen: *Snicker* Ok, enough. I wash my hands of the Hulk.
Jordan: Me too.
Karen: We tried.
Jordan: Yup. As the Grinch would say, we puzzled and puzzled until our puzzlers were sore.