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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Ang In Urbana

Ang Lee is here at EbertFest, presenting Hulk.
I hadn’t realized that he was here for his undergrad work, years ago.
He’s become a more and more relaxed interview (as we found on his Lust, Caution LWD), the highlight so far being his discussion of The Ice Storm, which he says he should have called “The Fuck You Movie,” as the choice to do it was a direct response to having made “nice, heartwarming” films. He said, “A lady would come up to me and say, ‘I just loved Sense & Sensibility,’ and I’d just want to punch her in the face.”
On Hulk, he copped to how much the film was about his problems with his own dad. He also talked a lot about how tough the critical response to the film was in America. Like Lust, Caution, other countries saw the politics of it.
What really struck me sitting here is that Lee makes films that, for Americans, are really for women and for men over 35. The perceived failures of Hulk seems to have come from comicbook fans who wanted the very male testosterone rush. That just wasn’t the movie Ang Lee made.
Of course, there was a Heath Ledger question. Ang talked about the work and simply said, “I love him… He carries the movie.” (He also said that it was Jake G’s role to steal the movie… and he did.)

93 Responses to “Ang In Urbana”

  1. THX5334 says:

    I adore Crouching Tiger, and I wish the rumors were true that there was going to be a prequel..

  2. doug r says:

    Hulk gets better once the Green Guy shows up about 45 minutes in. Then the bust out and the playtime with the helicopters in the desert is fantastic….then it runs out of steam again. If Ang had left a little more on the cutting room floor, it would have been a fantastic movie.

  3. brack says:

    I’m one of the few who really enjoyed Hulk because it was different from any of the other superhero movies. I’ve always cared more about who the hero is, not what he can do in these sorts of movies. A little action can go a long way.

  4. jeffmcm says:

    Not sure I agree with Mr. Lee about Mr. Gyllenhaal, but glad to hear he’s participating in Ebertfest.

  5. jeffmcm says:

    Not sure I agree with Mr. Lee about Mr. Gyllenhaal, but glad to hear he’s participating in Ebertfest.

  6. Tofu says:

    Sense & Sensibility is still his best work, fuck yous and all.

  7. Joe Leydon says:

    I think Ang Lee is a great filmmaker. I was impressed with him as far back as when he brought his first feature, Pushing Hands, to the Houston Film Festival in the early 1990s. But…. well, I’m sorry, but his Hulk was pulp direcetd by someone who didn’t have faith in pulp. Never mind that the business about the protagonist’s father had no precedent in the original comic books. It just didn’t work. Sorry. Compare it to, say, Hellboy and you’ll see what I men.

  8. IOIOIOI says:

    HULK is what it is: a psychological tale told in a long-form. When it could have used some dwindling down. Lee obviously got the comic, but he got it in his own way. He saw through the HULK, and wanted to make a movie about the twisted guy with in. While people seemingly wanted less Banner and more BIG GREEN.
    Oddly enough; the HULK comics work this way from time to time. During 2005 the HULK was a more psychological book with really trippy art. Now it’s BIG GREEN vs BIG RED because that’s what people want to read and see in a flick. They want to see BIG GREEN kicking ass. Which does not always work for narrative story-telling, but I will always give Ang dap for doing a different kind of HULK flick.

  9. RudyV says:

    Actually, Bill Mantlo established in the early 1980s that Bruce Banner had been abused by his father, supposedly accounting for all his pent-up rage.

  10. Martin S says:

    I’m glad to see Ang is finally owning up that he tailored Hulk for himself, since he’s been denying it for years.
    The backstory is pretty simple – The FF are used as a metaphor in the novel The Ice Storm for the family. Ang took interest in the comic and approached Marvel about doing the film. Arad took it to FOX and they shot it down, (why, I have no idea). Arad didn’t want to lose Ang so he offered him any project he wanted, mainly pushing Hulk. Ang and Schamus took it because they wanted to see if they could work within the system of the Big Movie machine. And this is where the problem lies.
    Ang/Schamus’interest was never in the Hulk as a character, but what the Hulk as a movie project presented them – the complete antithesis of Raimi and Spider-Man. So from inception, the major mistakes made were Arad’s because he knew better,(his press from X-Men through Spider-Man talked about his goal of carefully matching talent with characters), but he had become so enveloped in the “anything-for-a-greenlight” mentality most producers have that it was a stillborn movie.
    So Ang’s Hulk has a superficial connection to the actual character, like Emmerich’s Godzilla or Burton’s Planet of The Apes, because he never intended on making that character. What they did do, what they deserve kudos for, was being able to blend the interests of three voices; Ang’s psychodrama, Hurd’s obsession with the TV show and Arad’s dogma that only current storyline material be used. The problem is that Ang’s interest was to slow for a summer vehicle, the TV show basks in revisionist nostalgia and about eight people found Peter David’s 90’s Hulk interesting.
    I could dismantle Ang’s film, not in a fanboy trivia way, but by character/archetype, to show why it never had a chance, but Leydon sums it up pretty well – the roots are in pulp. Once you begin to revise the differences you lose the distinctions.
    I’m glad guys like Brack enjoyed it, because Ang could have re-titled it “Beauty & Beast 2k”, switch some character names, had ILM change the texture from green to furry brown or whatever, and Brack still would have liked it. Hell, I would have liked it because then, the focus would be on Ang’s use of panel/framework as a way to tell a classic story as a superhero film, instead of his gutting of an established character.

  11. waterbucket says:

    Jakey G did not steal the movie. Most Brokeback fans would agree with me. Heath had the role of a lifetime as Ennis and he owned it.

  12. Jerry Colvin says:

    Spin it however you want, The Hulk still sucks and as I sat there, I felt sorry for all the blue-hairs in the audience who had to sit through it for nearly 2 1/2 hours. Still waiting for the cliffhanger of Roeper’s opinion to be resolved….

  13. Jerry Colvin says:

    Oops, I forgot, there is no “The”. Guess that invalidates my opinion.

  14. Jerry Colvin says:

    By the way, The Ice Storm is Ang Lee’s best movie.

  15. OddDuck says:

    I think Run with the Devil is highly underrated. That movie combines the epic and intimate very well and is one of my favorite movies of that year. Jeffrey Wright is incredible in it.

  16. Skyblade says:

    Actually, I think Peter David was amongst the first to really make the Hulk relevant again.
    Here’s the thing about the Hulk. He’s Marvel’s second mascot, as it were. A great source for toys. But as much as the “Guy gets angry, turns big and strong” has been more iconic than any other character in Marvel’s stables, in some ways more than Spider-Man, writers just never know what to do with him. Beyond the pemise, he’s a big green “Now what?” I think it’s telling that he’s never really been a spin-off machine in a way even lesser-selling titles are.
    Which may be a problem with moviemakers. The most mileage writers seem to get out of him is when they turn the concept on its ear, which may be a problem when trying to sell a very famous character to audiences.

  17. mutinyco says:

    Speaking of Urbana, I saw it’s finest son get disconnected on the big screen at Tribeca earlier today…

  18. brack says:

    Martin S, you had me until the whole “Beauty and the Beast 2k” nonsense. I didn’t see any of that in the movie.
    I’m all about how the movie works, not if the movie “betrays” the comic book or not. Rarely are comic book movies EXACTLY like the comic book anyway. Batman in the comics is far different than Batman in the movies. Same with Spider-Man. So f*cking what?

  19. Martin S says:

    Brack,
    Raimi’s Parker is identical to Lee and Ditko’s. Raimi tweaked the abilities, but did nothing to the core. The same with Nolan and Wayne, Singer with the X-squad. Each creative team understood you can alter costumes, modify abilities, update the habitat, but you do not alter the origin of the ego. Ang paid no heed to that rule because, IMO, he and Schamus didn’t like the idea of making a military scientist the hero. Banner’s is/was Oppenheimer, even to the point that Kirby’s design bares an incredible resemblance. So once you remove the main metaphor – the burden of being the father of the bomb – and replace it with the antithesis – a Berkley(!) campus hermit who’s trying to heal and cure the sick and wounded – you no longer have Banner. That, in turn, changes the meaning of the Hulk and his conflicts with the military.
    Ang and Schamus appeared to have been aware of this due to making Talbot a defense contractor instead of leaving him as a Lieutenant and shifting the father/bomb metaphor to Banner’s father. Now, the villains are civilians who work with the military and Banner is a quasi-hippie victim of them, which is the exact opposite of what Lee and Kirby created and even Peter David adhered to. So if Banner is a victim of other people, than that makes the Hulk a defense mechanism, which is what Ang and Schamus did set up in the expository at the gamma-nano lab experiments as a way to justify the size growth. All of this flies in the face of one basic principle – Banner/Hulk are based on Jekyll/Hyde, and Jekyll was not a victim, as neither was Dr. Frankenstein or The Invisible Man. But the Beast of Beauty & The Beast, was, and that was the angle chosen for Betty and Bruce.
    The Hulk as defensive response is not a proactive radical, so the action in the film becomes reaction by the protagonist and Screenwriting 101 will tell you that is never going to work for a film that’s core is action. An uncontrollable Hulk whose appearance is unpredictable would create the necessary tension for the audience and propel the story forward with each appearance.
    But once you change the core elements of an established character, you are no longer working on that character. Emmerich’s Godzilla is the perfect example of this. He changed every aspect but the name because he wanted to make it “realistic”, but the genius never realized that the traits were what separated it from not being Harryhausen’s Beast From 2OK Fathoms, which is what he actually remade, act for act. Ang did a similar thing by making the Hulk a Beauty & Beast tale, (which was repeatedly mention in the presswork), instead of an atomic Jekyll/Hyde. So it’s not about being “exact” to comic book minutiae, but about understanding why a character that is just a variation of previous archetypes survives for decades, and others fall by the wayside.
    Skyblade – what I meant in regards to Peter David was that Arad was dead-convinced that his abuse-context would translate beyond the comic community, but he never considered that David’s material was only interesting because of what preceded it. If they had waited and dropped the abuse angle in a film or two later, it could have resolved some of the “what next” issues you mentioned.
    Apologies to all who find this to geeky. I’ve tried to keep it as close to film as possible.

  20. brack says:

    That’s great that you know the history of the Hulk so well. Really, I’m pressed.
    That said, it doesn’t matter. I make it a point to leave the comic book as the comic, and look at the movie as the movie, and don’t compare them, EVER. It’s pointless, and not worth my time. I’m glad you get some satisfaction out of explaining why you’re, but frankly, I don’t care.
    Regarding Beauty and the Beast, it merely shares some of the themes, but it is hardly the framework for the movie.

  21. brack says:

    that was a mess, oh well, fuck it.

  22. jeffmcm says:

    Martin, that was a really good analysis. Brack, I share your feelings that a movie should stand on its own, but (a) not everybody feels this way, (b) especially when it involves a character with 40 years of history and a very established backstory and set of traits. I applaud Ang Lee for trying to make the movie into a personal film with his own spin on it, but he also should have known that he was running a major risk by going against the grain, and IMHO it was a gamble that didn’t pay off.

  23. jeffmcm says:

    Oh, and on those lines, I’m kind of curious what kind of reaction Ang Lee wants people to have to Sense and Sensibility if it isn’t the admiration of old ladies…?

  24. Martin S says:

    Brack,I’m not comparing the two in some comic-dogma way that you’re implying. I’ve seen the movie once in its entirety and watched about twenty minutes on cable. It’s about when someone decides to adapt any established character for another medium, you need to understand the why and wherefore’s and not just the basic premise. That’s why novels translate so well to film, everything is laid out in a literal black-n-white. I could take the exact same argument against most Oliver Stone movies, but the truth is, producers, execs and agents do not give a shit. They do what they want, no matter how arbitrary, and when it doesn’t work, they blame someone else.
    Jeff – Thanks.

  25. brack says:

    Again, seems rather pointless to want all those plot details in at max a 2 hour movie. I sometimes like when filmmakers make what they want and tell the rest of the world to fuck off, but at the same time not being pretentious. I liked it, and I’m sorry others didn’t, but I think it says more about their expectations than it does the actual movie.

  26. Martin S says:

    Ang’s Hulk was 2H20M, trimmed from 2H40M, IIRC.
    The “make what you want” argument is fine if you’re dealing with your own property. But Ang, Schamus, Arad, Hurd – none of them would have had the opportunity to cash in 7-figure checks if not for the generations of people who kept the property alive by buying its merchandise.
    Thousands of properties from dozens of mediums have faded into oblivion because they had zero shelf-life. But, in atypical Hollywood fashion, they want the properties with built-in audiences but then want to do whatever they wish with it under the guise of reaching “maximum audience penetration”. If they had faith in the property, we wouldn’t have so many train wrecks.

  27. brack says:

    It could’ve been 4 hours long. It really doesn’t matter. Like the movie or don’t, but to have to cater to stupid fanboys, eh, I couldn’t care less. As long as it’s good, that’s all I care about. And it was a good movie. I’m sure you’ll hate what Norton as well. There’s no pleasing everyone, and for some there’s nothing that will please them. Oh well, life goes on. I never said it was great. Not everything has to be. People wanted to hate it just to hate it.

  28. JBM... says:

    Martin S: Ever read Jonathan Hensleigh’s draft where Banner & Co. were attempting to colonize Mars? What did you think of the Mike France/John Turman/Edward Norton drafts, if you read them?\
    This is very fascinating…

  29. Martin S says:

    JBM – If Hensleigh’s was the one with the prisoners that leads to Absorbing Man’s creation, then yeah. It’s been several years, so I’m foggy about who wrote what, but I do remember one in particular that ended with people calling the Howard Stern show reporting Hulk sightings like he was Bigfoot. That was god-awful.
    France wrote the direct sequel to Ang’s film with Schamus, bringing in Abomination and Leader, IIRC. Never saw much after that. I backed off of microscoping productions several years ago for a number of reasons, but mainly because it’s become beyond formulaic.
    Brack – Somewhere along the line, you decided this was a confrontation. Have fun with that. You made some points which I didn’t disagree with, yet you keep trying to make this about fanboyism, when I’ve shown it’s not. It’s about writing and being objective.
    As for Norton’s Hulk, I won’t hate it because Hurd is finally getting the TV show adaptation she wants, and if it turns out more people think of Bixby/Ferrigno as kitsch then quality, maybe she’ll finally let the property go. The odds are against this flick because once again, a dude who wanted to direct a different Marvel film, (Letterier wanted Iron Man), was swayed to take Hulk on. It’s an awkward fit then coupled with Norton.
    I don’t want these movies to be bad, but it’s becoming inevitable. I had high hopes for Iron Man, but when I read a summary a few months ago, I came to some of the conclusions that bore out in Poland’s review. I’m not about focusing on the geeks, they had their chance and it died with Superman Returns. But I’m also not for a total reworking based on faulty logic. If producers and agents simply accepted the characters, then they could decide if they want to make that kind of film. Instead, it’s cherry-picking.

  30. Martin S says:

    Produces and execs, not agents.

  31. brack says:

    Actually Martin, there’s no confrontation in my tone. If memory serves correctly, you singled me out by name, and made assumptions about my movie preferences.
    You corrected me about the length of the movie, as if that made a difference to this discussion.
    You’ve made it your mission to explain why Ang Lee was wrong to do what he did with the character. That’s very fanboyish, sorry to break it to you. Good luck to you finding comic book movies you’ll enjoy being so particular.
    “writing and being objective”
    Okay, stating that Hulk was not like the comic book is saying NOTHING about the quality of the movie. You have yet to mention any of the films flaws, just that it wasn’t what you wanted from the movie, or what you thought the Hulk should be.

  32. christian says:

    Perfect analysis of the Hulk, Martin. I always thought there’s great action and poignancy in the real Kirby/Lee origin tale, with the deformed Russian scientist being cured by Banner and the end result.
    Ang Lee’s HULK had some great stuff, particularly the shadowy use of CG. And the dog fight was pretty cool albeit oddball. It’s just that climax scene with Nolte facing Bana like a Russian tragedy…I give him props for trying something different.
    Anyway, I want to see Shellhead vs Titanium Man.

  33. Martin S says:

    Christian – thanks.
    Brack, I didn’t single you out nor make assumptions. I agreed with your comments because it made sense as to why you liked the movie. You apparently took it as a slam because of the the Beauty & Beast reference not being kewl enough. Ooops. Sorry you were aware that was what Ang made.
    The writing/objective line is in regards to a creative team’s approach to adapting anything for film. My belief as to what would work best is subjective, but my comments on Ang’s flick are based on what he did and how they ended up there, not on what I think he should have done.

  34. Martin S says:

    Christian – Russian tragedy is a good way of putting it. A variation on the Gremlin story would have been interesting. I don’t think a superhero film has yet had the person trump his alter ego, but that was a trait of quintessential Marvel.

  35. brack says:

    Martin, did you mean to say “sorry you weren’t aware that was what Ang made?”
    That wasn’t the problem, it’s that your attitude that it was the sole framework for the movie, and it wasn’t.
    And about your objective comments: unless you simply state what he did, and nothing else, then you are not being objective. you’re still being subjective, like every single film critic who has ever lived. Stop pretending you weren’t, it’s really annoying.

  36. Martin S says:

    Brack – I laid out the framework. I gave them ample credit for being able to blend three different perspectives into one when no one up to that point was able to mix two. The simple fact is they re-wrote the main character so it fit what they wanted and that’s the exact opposite approach of what every successful superhero movie had or has done. And what’s your response? Fanboyism, because it’s an easy way to deflect and change the debate.
    You say “rarely are comic book movies exactly like the comic”, and I show how the ones that do well keep the main character and structure in tact. You say “it’s pointless to have all those plot details in a 2hr max movie”, and I point out Ang had as long a cut as he wanted. What’s your answer? To negate what you just stated and blame fanboys. So where are we? We’re at the point where a blog dedicated to film criticism is only supposed to discuss the final product, even years after the film was released. Here then-
    1. The protagonist doesn’t act, he reacts.
    2. The attempt to use grounded science is jettisoned when it complicates the story, defeating the purpose of introducing it and muddling the first act.
    3. The Talbot-Betty-Bruce triangle is superfluous since Banner’s father had been set up as the antagonist. All of Talbot’s actions could have been incorporated into General Ross, which would have mirrored the abusive father figure motif.
    4. The panel work, while deliberately placed, seems arbitrary because it pulls the audience out by placing emphasis on the comic frames.
    So, in other words, you have a drawn out first act, meandering sub-plot, distracting editing choice and a main character who does nothing except let people screw with him, so why not spend the film exploring his childhood trauma with flashbacks, thereby knocking whatever forward story momentum right on its ass.

  37. brack says:

    Finally, something from you that actually critiqued the movie. Thank you. That’s all I ask.

  38. Martin S says:

    And what’s funny about that is the entire post stems from the larger issue of why it failed and not what failed.

  39. THX5334 says:

    Fuck. This. Movie.
    Can we just agree on that?

  40. brack says:

    Nope, I disagree with all Martin said.
    He doesn’t act, but reacts? don’t really see that as a flaw, but whatever. The Talbot-Betty-Bruce triangle? That really wasn’t a big part of the movie, wasn’t Talbot just an old boyfriend? If Talbot’s actions were carried out by the General, then the General wouldn’t have cared if Bruce’s dad was experimenting. He’d been all for it, as it would’ve made him lots of money. The panel work added to the film, you know, like watching a living comic. It’s interesting that distracted you. Sorry the movie wasn’t as quickly paced as you wanted it. I liked that the characters were allowed to have some depth. I thought the flashbacks moved the story forward, since we were curious as to what happened in that room. But okay.

  41. jeffmcm says:

    I agree with Martin. The script is needlessly complicated (why have Talbot or the triangle in the movie at all?), lumpy in its flow or lack thereof, and downright confusing in its final act. I thought the panel work was distracting as well and it seemed as if it was designed by someone who really didn’t understand comics in the first place and was overcompensating.
    Sometimes, a director putting a ‘personal touch’ on a movie is a bad thing.

  42. brack says:

    there was no fucking triangle, goddamn. and what was complicated about a guy wanting to make lots of money? it’s America right there.
    I’d understand if the film was edited like an music video on steroids (i.e. Stigmata), but it wasn’t.
    jeff, what confused you about the final act?
    why am I even asking? you one of the most particular posters here.

  43. jeffmcm says:

    Basically, and my memory is a little fuzzy because I only saw the movie once, 5 years ago, but the whole ending where Nolte turns into the atomic super-hulk just seemed like it came out of nowhere felt very silly. “Confusing” is the word only in the sense of “I’m confused as to why the filmmakers thought this would be a good idea”.

  44. jeffmcm says:

    Sorry for how disjointedly written that was.

  45. brack says:

    After Dad did the whole gamma ray thing that Bruce did onto himself, he had the ability to absorb anything he touches. so he absorbed that electricity and then he wanted to absorb Bruce’s powers after Bruce decided to tell his dad to go to hell. Bruce let him have it all, but then it was too much for Dad, and then the military blew him away, and were successful I’m guessing because it was Dad was really unstable at that point. I dunno, it looked pretty cool to me.
    As far as Lee not understanding comics, I used to read comics up until college, and I think he got it pretty well.
    Besides the silly dogs, I enjoyed it.
    I know I’m in the minority, as it only has a 5.8 on IMDB. It wasn’t as good as say Spider-Man 2, Batman Begins or the first two Superman films, but it’s better than most.
    I still like the other comic book movie featuring Jennifer Connelly more– The Rocketeer.

  46. storymark says:

    I liked Lee’s Hulk for the first part, but I have to agree that it was a muddled script. And I totally agree with Martin on the failures of the film being rooted in a fundamental shift in the character, and what made it work and click with people for so many decades.
    As for the framework, I’m with jeff, it showed a lack of understanding of the comic medium, and tried too hard to compensate. It was a nice try, and worked in a few places, but for the most part it did not.
    the problem with the panel approach, is that comic art is sequential art. Lee’s frames did not, in most cases, progress. They were not sequential. Most of the time, they were alternate angles on the same action. It was closer to an episode of 24, than any comic art.

  47. brack says:

    I’m glad you all know what a living comic book would REALLY look like. LOL.
    There’s being critical, and then there’s being overcritical.

  48. storymark says:

    And then ther’s being appologetic.
    Seriously – what’s with the bug up your ass should anyone dare to critisize this movie. Hell, I even started off by saying I like the movie (though I meant “for the most pasrt”, not “first part”).
    I didn’t say anything about “what a living comic book would REALLY look like”. I analyze the difference between the medium he was trying to emulate, and what he did.
    Every time someone mentions something they don’t like about the film, you go on the defensive.
    Get over yourself.

  49. brack says:

    And as I’ve said, I’ve read mountains of comics in my life, and the way you describe those scenes as failing I find funny.
    I laughed, and you took the defensive. Get over yourself.

  50. brack says:

    These criticisms aren’t even things worth talking about, like the actual characters or acting. I usually find those things worth critiquing. But such things as merely saying the film’s script was “muddled” is so nondescript. It’s lazy critiquing, and shows a lack of insight.

  51. brack says:

    what I meant to say is that the acting and characters, what they do, their motivations, etc. are the foundation. not comic panels.

  52. jeffmcm says:

    Which things aren’t worth talking about, the visual design of the film? The problem both Storymark and I had was with the comic-frame transitions. We both felt they were distracting. Personally, I felt like they were Lee’s way of trying to make the movie more ‘comic-bookish’ when so much of the rest of it was ponderous and static. If you liked them, great, but we didn’t.
    And they were just one aspect of what was, to me, a group of mistakes and failures in storytelling, characterization, subtext, etc.

  53. brack says:

    That’s great to feel how you feel that way Jeff, though I’m puzzled by people who come on here and feel the need to have their say but at the same time really don’t say anything, like when people use such descriptions without actually going into DETAIL. To me, just saying “ponderous and static” without a specific example doesn’t do anything for me, since the movie seemed to move along just fine. I knew what was going on at all times based on what was on the screen, and what the characters were going through, and those things take some time in order for me to give a crap.
    I personally liked how the whole movie unfolded. The story was actually one worth telling and had to cojones to stick with it, and didn’t just feel gimmicky or superficial i.e. Ghost Rider or Fantastic Four just to name a couple. The movie really cares about these characters and their problems, and therefore so do we, evident when they’re talking about their dreams that they had, and trying to fit the missing pieces. Bana and Connelly made me believe that there was something there between them, and the same time real pain behind their eyes.
    It wasn’t perfect. Josh Lucas’ character does a very quick 180 from okay money-grubber to all out asshole, though I guess that was to say the character was a decent actor, and I suppose they really needed an asshole, or his Dad, to get Bruce angry. And I didn’t get the dog attack. I guess Dad did that so he could get the lab by himself to do his experiment, though it makes me wonder how he was able to change the dogs’ DNA without the lab. I’m guessing he didn’t need to do that with his doggie experiments. And the Hulk looked funny at times when he probably shouldn’t have. It’s those little things that prevent me from giving it a top score.

  54. jeffmcm says:

    If you wanna meet up for an hours-long meeting, I could give you some detail of what I mean by ‘ponderous’. But since this is a blog, shorthand will have to do, I think.

  55. brack says:

    that’s what I thought.

  56. jeffmcm says:

    What else could you expect/want?

  57. brack says:

    Nothing, the fact that you think giving examples requires hours long discussion says volumes about you. That or you’re kidding, and in which case, good one.

  58. jeffmcm says:

    Well, the fact that you won’t accept when other people have a problem with a movie without providing detailed explanations says something about you.

  59. brack says:

    Yeah it does, it means I like to know that when people have something to say, they can actually back it up with evidence.
    For example (see, I’m doing it, you should give it a try there, champ), when you mentioned your problems with the visual look, the editing, whatever, I understood what you were talking about.
    However, when you merely say the movie was “ponderous and static” as well as just saying there were problems with storytelling, subtext, etc., that means NOTHING without examples.
    I mean, I could guess what you’re talking about, but since I don’t agree, it’s hard to READ YOUR MIND.

  60. jeffmcm says:

    I understand what you’re saying, but (a) I saw the movie once, five years ago, and (b) I didn’t have such strong feelings about it that I really feel like bothering with remembering why it didn’t work. Suffice to say it didn’t, and if that’s not good enough for you, I’m sorry.

  61. brack says:

    Then why even make comments about the movie at all? Just to chime to say “hey, I didn’t like it either.” How fucking dumb.

  62. jeffmcm says:

    Look, I was under the impression that I was allowed to have an opinion about it, not that I needed to write a master’s thesis about it. Obviously you want to have a more involved discussion about it than I do, and I’m sorry not to be able to fulfill your goals.

  63. brack says:

    And I’m allowed to have an opinion. See post above you.
    After I see the shit you give LexG, Chucky, etc., you’re nothing but a hypocrite.

  64. jeffmcm says:

    You’re the one who doesn’t seem to be able to allow others to have their own opinion; this entire thread is predicated on you hounding others to justify themselves. I don’t really know what it is that you’re asking for, as it appears that any description of why the movie fails, as Martin offered earlier, is going to be met with you by a scoff. All I can say is, I was disappointed because the movie Lee made wasn’t the movie I expected to see; and moving beyond expectations, the movie delivered isn’t that great either thanks to a script that doesn’t seem to know where it’s going, tangential subplots that take over the third act for no good reason, a murky, pointless action scene or two, and a general sense of misdirection.

  65. brack says:

    Eat one Jeff.
    When did I ever say “nope, you’re wrong” to ANYBODY? Point that out, and I’ll eat my hat.
    It would’ve been one thing to start your part of the discussion with “oh, I haven’t seen it in a while, so I don’t remember exact details, BUT…” and then talked about the problems. I would’ve at least knew where you were coming from. But I was under the impression that you actually had some real insight to what you were talking about.
    My bad, sorry to have wasted yours and my time.

  66. jeffmcm says:

    Well, my comments on this thread were two “I agree with Martin”s followed by an “I haven’t seen it in a while” so I don’t think I misrepresented myself or overreached. What I do see, looking back over the thread, is a series of head-bashing against a brick wall by successive posters, so probably best to consider this thread done with.

  67. brack says:

    Right, I got that at first, but then you later made further reference to specific problems you had, so it was a bit misleading. But I’m guessing it was just a way for you to say “well, you made a good point, but it doesn’t matter, because all these other things were wrong,” essentially pulling stuff from your memory once I said my piece. those sort of discussions I despise, so you’re right, I think this thread is done.

  68. storymark says:

    “Yeah it does, it means I like to know that when people have something to say, they can actually back it up with evidence.”
    I explained exactly what my problem was with the framing style, and why. You responded by (in your own words) “laughing” at it, and said because you’ve read lots of comics, you found my issue with it “funny” – but then offered no explaination as to why.
    How about heed your own advice to explain yourself, or just shut the hell up. Do you have a fucking shrine to this movie, or something? You must shout down anyone who doesn’t love the movie as much as you?
    As I said, get the fuck over yourself.

  69. brack says:

    ugh, I thought we were done here, but okay…
    storymark, you took what I said way too personally. this whole “get the fuck over yourself” and “shut the hell up” it laughable at best. You’re no better than me by saying such things. If you were, you’d just let it go, but you can’t.
    Anyway, initial response was directed at both you and jeff, because I’m familiar with jeff’s “criticisms” and he barely likes anything anyway, so you were just collateral damage. oh well, get over it and get some thicker skin.
    To answer your question, since I know comics, have read them for years, and I was sitting there watching the movie, it felt like I was watching a comic come to life, and then some. So to me, to say it’s not how it should look that it didn’t work was funny, as if you had some experience with how it really would look on film. That was it. No need to take it so personally, something you claim that I’m doing.

  70. jeffmcm says:

    I don’t see how Martin was ‘collateral damage’ since he was the originator of the discussion in the first place. Also, I think I’m way too easy on movies a lot of the time so obviously there’s a lot of miscommunication going on.

  71. brack says:

    all I know is not to offend anyone by laughing at them. that really gets people upset on the interwebs apparently.

  72. jeffmcm says:

    That seems obvious.

  73. brack says:

    you’re obvious. LOL. get mad, NOW!

  74. brack says:

    Just searching through and old thread on board I frequent, it seems HULK is just one of those divisive movies that come out so often, you either liked it or you didn’t. Bygones.

  75. Martin S says:

    I thought THX declared this dead.
    Jeff, Story – forget it. Seriously. Brack’s defense is to change the argument and make things as relativistic as possible. Look how he railed about fanboyism post after post, but when needs to put-down Story’s much shared 24 observation, he suddenly flaunts his fanboy credentials,(“I’ve read mountains of comics”). I called him out for his antagonistic tone, which he denied, then goes after you two personally. It’s like the old newsgroup days. If he doesn’t get the last word, it eats at him.
    The core problem is this – most of us are taking this apart via film/story structure, and Brack is observing the movie. Here-
    Brack “He doesn’t act, but reacts? don’t really see that as a flaw, but whatever”.
    Followed by –
    Brack These criticisms aren’t even things worth talking about, like the actual characters or acting. I usually find those things worth critiquing…what I meant to say is that the acting and characters, what they do, their motivations, etc. are the foundation. not comic panels.”
    “Whatever” is not a motivating foundation piece open for criticism. Action/reaction is the basis for everything that motivates a character in a script.
    Brack The Talbot-Betty-Bruce triangle? That really wasn’t a big part of the movie, wasn’t Talbot just an old boyfriend?
    Relativism. You FEEL it wasn’t a big part. We’re talking about story structure.
    Brack If Talbot’s actions were carried out by the General, then the General wouldn’t have cared if Bruce’s dad was experimenting. He’d been all for it, as it would’ve made him lots of money.
    That not what I, or Jeff, or Story, or anyone else for that matter, means. Talbot served no part other than to be a third foil for Banner. Talbot was written to be a personal obstacle so Banner could Hulk out, but instead he became a divergence to moving the story forward. Talbot’s motivations – as pointed out – are haphazard and jump from dickish to malevolent. His whole bioweapon subplot goes nowhere, serves nothing except to justify the existence of his character. His actions, verbally and physically abusing Banner, would have fit Ross better since he logically would be the obstacle between Betty and Bruce and thereby doubled the main “paternal overlord” theme Ang had laid out between Bruce and his father. You are stating it as if Ross became the defense contractor instead of remaining the general.
    Respond all you want.

  76. brack says:

    That’s an interesting idea for a movie. you should make it, Martin, really, you shouldn’t waste your talent for storytelling on a blog.

  77. brack says:

    I wasn’t going to really respond, since you’ve decided to pigeonhole me, but it’s really ironic that you say I have to have the last word, when I’ve noticed everything I write somehow gets responded to.
    Personal attacks? I did no such things.
    So let me get this straight, the mere fact that I remember how a comic book is layed out on a page makes me a fanboy? You’re reaching, and you’ve got short arms, fanboy.
    ^^See, now that’s a personal attack.
    “‘Whatever’ is not a motivating foundation piece open for criticism. Action/reaction is the basis for everything that motivates a character in a script.”
    All you said is that “he doesn’t act, he reacts.” Yeah, that’s the character, so what? Was there an actual point to that?
    “Relativism. You FEEL it wasn’t a big part. We’re talking about story structure.”
    If you were talking about this triangle or whatever theory you have, it has nothing to do with how I FEEL it’s what actually was set up, the words that were spoken by the characters, that say something different than what you are saying. And if I FEEL it wasn’t a big part, aren’t you just FEELING like it is yourself?
    “His whole bioweapon subplot goes nowhere, serves nothing except to justify the existence of his character.”
    Didn’t it go nowhere because Bruce escaped and killed the guy? Didn’t the government decide that Bruce was too dangerous, couldn’t be controlled, and decided to just kill him? I wouldn’t say the subplot went nowhere, it merely CHANGED.

  78. jeffmcm says:

    Brack, youre taking things that we (at least Martin and I) thought were flaws in the movie and shrugging them off, which is fine, your opinion and all, but when you ask us to elaborate on what we didn’t like about the movie…there’s your answers.

  79. Martin S says:

    Like I said, I thought this was over. “Mountains of comics” is not happening to remember comic layout. It’s an attempt to impart the idea that you have a deep(er) understanding of comic work than Story as a way to negate his criticism.
    Action/reaction – look, it just shows you’re not talking about the same things a number of us are. I’m not being hyperbolic when it say it’s Screenwriting 101. It literally is. They put a passive character at the heart of an action story and were then shocked by the bored reaction. Go pick up any screenwriting book or an issue of Scr(i)pt or Creative Screenwriting and you’ll find it.
    The best example is how Banner becomes the Hulk. In the comic, it’s an action because Rick Jones is totally unaware there’s a bomb test going on, that he’s put himself in danger. Banner, far away, acts when no one else does by throwing himself into the heart of the blast to save Rick. In Ang’s movie, the dude is making a repair when the experiment accidentily kicks on. Banner, close by, impulsively reacts to save the dude thereby exposing himself to the gamma. Ang/Schamus went this route because it’s Bixby’s Banner with a dash of Lee’s on the surface. But from that point, it sets the tone as to what kind of Banner he is going to be. Not one who decides to do something, but one who let’s events dictate his future until he explodes in a tantrum. This is point of Spider-Man; his lack of action, a physical and verbal reactive indifference, gets uncle Ben killed. He then acts by becoming Spider-Man which sets off it’s own chain of events. You’ll see the same thing play out in Iron Man and it’s the whole theme of Nolan’s Batman films.
    As for the triangle. Pages are broken down for screen time, 1page = 1 minute. Ang shoots long scenes which is why actors love him. Schamus didn’t hand in a 150 page script, but that’s about what they shot. Ang/Schamus know how they work, and as I mentioned in my first post, they took this movie to see if their style could fit within a studio approach. It didn’t because you need precision which they were never going to attain because the producer’s wanted Hulk to be a hero when he’s an anti-hero and an antagonizing military that’s not the antagonist. In other words, no one had the intention of making the Hulk.
    All of this plays out in Norton’s Hulk. At bare minimum, Norton understood that problem with Bixby’s Banner as a movie protagonist.

  80. brack says:

    “‘Mountains of comics’ is not happening to remember comic layout. It’s an attempt to impart the idea that you have a deep(er) understanding of comic work than Story as a way to negate his criticism.”
    Actually it was a way of saying that I’d seen such material, and to me it didn’t look like Ang got it “wrong,” or “right” for that matter, it’s just what they decided to do, and it was a nice way to make some scenes more interesting than they would’ve been without it. Based on the responses, people knew what he was doing, so on some level it worked based on that perception alone. I’m sorry you found it gimmicky or whatever. You can’t please everyone.
    I never stated Story was wrong, just that from my own experience I thought it worked. Stop saying that I’m trying to tell anyone here that they’re wrong about their opinion, because you are just trying to play a victim or make me out to be a hypocrite simply because I disagree with what you are saying and actually challenge what others say. Believe me, I know I’m not going to change anyone’s opinion, or that you’re going to change mine.
    “They put a passive character at the heart of an action story and were then shocked by the bored reaction.”
    The only reason there was action in the whole movie was because Bruce was the Hulk. Without that element, it wouldn’t have been an action movie. And newsflash, this really isn’t an “action film,” but a film that happens to have action in it. That’s why people were disappointed, they wanted “HULK SMASH!” and when they didn’t get it they have a hissy fit.
    “Not one who decides to do something, but one who let’s events dictate his future until he explodes in a tantrum. This is point of Spider-Man; his lack of action, a physical and verbal reactive indifference, gets uncle Ben killed. He then acts by becoming Spider-Man which sets off it’s own chain of events. You’ll see the same thing play out in Iron Man and it’s the whole theme of Nolan’s Batman films.”
    Was there really time for Bruce to make such a decision? Not really. The way “Hulk” plays out, he wanted to get rid of it, and understandably so. And by the end of the movie, when there are those bad guys trying to take the medicine from that village or whatever, hadn’t Bruce taken on the role of the “hero.” Before the ending, there was literally no time for Bruce to “take action” the way you thought he should’ve.

  81. Martin S says:

    I’m not trying to play anything. Go back and read the thread. It’s your tone that caused the flare-up with three different people. I wouldn’t give a damn to respond but you keep changing the argument as a way to invalidate and keep the oneupsmanship going. Start it with me, fine. But continue it with two other people and it becomes a pattern.
    The only reason there was action in the whole movie was because Bruce was the Hulk. Without that element, it wouldn’t have been an action movie. And newsflash, this really isn’t an “action film,” but a film that happens to have action in it. That’s why people were disappointed, they wanted “HULK SMASH!” and when they didn’t get it they have a hissy fit.
    Thanks for proving my point that we are not having the same conversation.
    Action/reaction applies to every goddman movie; Wall Street, Old School, M. Butterfly, fucking name it. When Bud Fox decides to show up in Gecko’s office and wait, he’s making a life-changing action. It’s not about fight scenes.
    Was there really time for Bruce to make such a decision? Not really. The way “Hulk” plays out, he wanted to get rid of it, and understandably so. And by the end of the movie, when there are those bad guys trying to take the medicine from that village or whatever, hadn’t Bruce taken on the role of the “hero.” Before the ending, there was literally no time for Bruce to “take action” the way you thought he should’ve.
    The point you make proves my argument; he’s a reactionary character for 2H19M.

  82. brack says:

    “I’m not trying to play anything. Go back and read the thread. It’s your tone that caused the flare-up with three different people. I wouldn’t give a damn to respond but you keep changing the argument as a way to invalidate and keep the oneupsmanship going. Start it with me, fine. But continue it with two other people and it becomes a pattern.”
    Again, tell me where I invalidated anyone? I found what others said amusing, and I let it be known, but so what? Grow some fucking skin.
    “Thanks for proving my point that we are not having the same conversation.
    Action/reaction applies to every goddman movie; Wall Street, Old School, M. Butterfly, fucking name it. When Bud Fox decides to show up in Gecko’s office and wait, he’s making a life-changing action. It’s not about fight scenes.”
    Okay, but this is what you said…
    “The Hulk as defensive response is not a proactive radical, so the action in the film becomes reaction by the protagonist and Screenwriting 101 will tell you that is never going to work for a film that’s core is action. An uncontrollable Hulk whose appearance is unpredictable would create the necessary tension for the audience and propel the story forward with each appearance.”
    Sure, Bruce was a passive guy by nature, but there were REASONS for that, and made sense to the story. And to say that a certain dynamic of a story can NEVER work just shows that you’re a guy who seems to adhere to a set of storytelling rules that apparently can never be broken. Okie dokie.
    “The point you make proves my argument; he’s a reactionary character for 2H19M.”
    Again, so what? Was I ever denying that he’s a reactionary character?
    I don’t know what 2H19M means.

  83. JBM... says:

    2 hours, 19 minutes.

  84. brack says:

    thanks JBM…

  85. jeffmcm says:

    Brack, I agree that there’s no reason a movie can’t be successful with a passive central character – Barry Lyndon, My Own Private Idaho, The Pianist – but I can only say that those movies simply succeed where Hulk fails. Part of that is the nature of the genre – the contemplative drama is more forgiving to this kind of storytelling than the superhero/action movie. And you can say that Ang Lee was trying to take the genre somewhere new, and I’d agree, but then I’d also say it didn’t really work.

  86. LexG says:

    BARRY LYNDON OWNS YOUR FUCKING ASS.
    But it has nothing to do with THE HULK.
    But LETTERIER has a PINK SLIP ON YOUR FUCKING BALLS.
    NORTON PLUS TYLER PLUS HURT PLUS *ROTH* = FUCKING AWESOME.
    KNOW YOUR SHIT. THE DAY HAS COME.

  87. jeffmcm says:

    Pink slip? Our collective balls have been fired?

  88. LexG says:

    JEFF OWNS.

  89. Martin S says:

    Brack, it’s not that a passive character cannot work, but it usually comes in the form of a reluctant hero, like Willis in Unbreakable. The audience is subconsciously waiting for the transformation,(excuse the pun), from reluctant/passive to resolved/committed. Hunt For Red October, Patriot Games, Manhunter, etc.,, When it doesn’t occur to the last minute of a movie, then it doesn’t happen for the audience and the creators are clever by half.
    I get what you’re saying – show Banner’s struggle for the entire film until he accepts his fate – but that’s not going to work for an established character because there is an audience expectation. Not fanboyism, but a recognition that if you’re going to market the movie as a summer vehicle, than you have to deliver along those lines. You couldn’t hand Cronenberg Iron Man and say “go make Crash 2 if you want because we’re still going to sell Iron Man” and then be shocked when audience reaction kills it. It all goes back to what I initially wrote – Ang/Schamus wanted to take on FF but they got shifted to Hulk. It would have worked for FF because the transformation is permanent and on the surface. They wouldn’t need to shoehorn in reasons to become the heroes, they are all the time. That frees up space to dig into the psychodrama while still providing the visual element needed for a summer movie.

  90. brack says:

    I guess you’re right about the movie on that level, in terms mass audience expectation, it wasn’t what a lot of people wanted, evidently.
    But on a personal level, the only one I really care about (that makes me a selfish movie jerk 😛 ), I thought it felt fresh in the way it was done unconventionally and wasn’t like the other comic book movies.
    I’ve grown to just seeing a movie as it happens, and don’t really go into them with any predisposed expectations, except to be entertained and shown an interesting story. I’m kinda tired of the summer movie vehicle. it’s become formulaic, and that’s probably why I liked Hulk, it took me by surprise.

  91. andromedastargazer says:

    Hello!
    I finally found a site where Mr. Lee admited that he wasn’t really making a Hulk movie. My take in it is that Lee wanted to make this movie about the problems with his father and sticked the Hulk’s characters names on it, added some CGI and some panels to sell it to “fanboys” I can only say that it was a great disrespect for his material since he didn’t did his homework and tried to find the core of the story but used the story for his own benefit and that is a fraud in my opinion. If he wanted to make a personal movie will all his talent I’m ok with it and maybe I had probably watch it since I liked Crouching Tiger Hiddend Dragon and I loved Sense and Sensibility. But pretending to trick the fans like we don’t understand The Hulk ourselves and thinking that he could trick us!? That really makes me angry.
    Is kind of the way some comic book movies were made before thinking that fans didn’t needed any depth of love that having a dude wearing a fancy costume some shots and cool fights and the movie was done hurt our movie characters and made a lot of bad movies bad them. People need to understand that this movies are not childs play they are our new mythology so trying to treat it with the respect they need. I’m really dissapointed of what he did on Hulk and I hope no one ever let him approach any other comic book movie for as long as he live and personally I feel raped for what he did so he is not going to see my sweet money anytime soon.
    In happier news I liked The Incredible Hulk movie of course is not perfect but at least is a Hulk movie no one tried to trick us this time. You can feel the love and care people took to make it and is really good. I enjoyed and left the movie theater craving for more. Really if any of you haven’t watched it yet because you think is the second part of Ang’s movie is not is one of the best superhero movie I had seen and a great way to open The Hulk franchise and the best of all you are going to actually have fun!

  92. andromedastargazer says:

    Hello!
    I finally found a site where Ican see that Mr. Lee admited that he wasn’t really making a Hulk movie.
    My take in it is that Lee wanted to make this movie about the problems that father/offspring face and sticked the Hulk’s characters names on it, and added some CGI and some panels to sell it to “fanboys”.
    I can only say that it was a great disrespect for the material since he didn’t did his homework and tried to find the core of the story but used the story for his own benefit and that is a fraud in my opinion.
    If he wanted to make a personal movie will all his talent I’m ok with it and maybe I had probably watch it since I liked Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and I loved Sense and Sensibility. But pretending to trick the fans like we don’t understand The Hulk ourselves and thinking that he could trick us!? Like we are stupid or something? That really makes me angry.
    Is kind of the way some comic book movies were made before thinking that fans didn’t needed any depth just a dude wearing a fancy costume some shots and cool fights and the movie was done. That hurted our beloved characters and made a lot of bad movies bad them. People need to understand that this movies are not children’s play they are our new mythology so they deserve treat it with the respect they had earned over all the years they had existed on the comic book world. I’m really dissapointed of what he did on Hulk and I hope no one ever let him approach any other comic book movie for as long as he live and personally I feel insulted for what he did so he is not going to see my hard earned money anytime soon.
    In happier news…. I liked The Incredible Hulk of course is not perfect but at least IS at last a Hulk movie no one tried to trick us this time. You can feel the love and care people took to make it and is really good. I enjoyed and left the movie theater craving for more. Really if any of you haven’t watched it yet because you think is the second part of Ang’s movie is not: is one of the best superhero movie I had seen in quite sometime and a great way to open The Hulk franchise (and another one ;))and the best of all you are going to actually have fun!

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“Well, actually, of that whole group that I call the post-60s anti-authority auteurs, a lot of them came from television. Peckinpah’s the only one whose television work represents his feature work. I mean, like the only one. Mark Rydell can direct a really good episode of ‘Gunsmoke’ and Michael Ritchie can direct a really good episode of ‘The Big Valley,’ but they don’t necessarily look like The Candidate. But Peckinpah’s stuff, even the scripts he wrote that he didn’t even direct, have a Peckinpah feel – the way I think there’s a Corbucci West – suggest a Peckinpah West. That even in his random episodes that he wrote for ‘Gunsmoke’ – it’s right there.”
~ Quentin Tarantino

“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima