Tuesday, June 24, 2003

This was a movie weekend. Saturday night was The Italian Job. Christie and I have both been wanting to see it since it came out, but kept being busy on the weekends and tired during the week. (or, if not tired, at least not in the mood to go out and hit the movies)

I can keep this one short and simple: I love a good caper flick, and that's exactly what this is. Great ensemble, fast moving plot, good dialogue, and just enough surprises to keep things interesting. Two thumbs up, definitely.

Sunday afternoon, it was time to see The Hulk. There have been a lot of electrons spilled explaining, at length, what was wrong with this movie. Too dark. Too overwrought. Several reviews said Eric Bana was too subdued in his portrayal of a buttoned-down, inexpressive scientist. And, of course, they said the CGI was unbelievable.

Piffle, I say. First of all, this is a movie about a man who's gotten so good at repressing his emotions that the only way his id can come out is when he gets blasted with gamma radiation. Of course he's going to come across as subdued. The very first thing we see happen to him as an adult is his girlfriend and partner dumping him because he won't open up. His response? "I don't wanna talk about it." Personally, I think Eric Bana did a great job portraying Bruce Banner, a man with a cacophony of emotions boiling just underneath the surface of his skin, and I look forward to seeing him play Hector (aside: casting Brian Cox as Agamemnon is beyond inspired. I so want to see this movie).

I thought the CGI pushed the technology about as far as it can go. No, it wasn't perfect. But it looked a hell of a lot better than the "burly brawl" in the Matrix: Reloaded. The Hulk was a fully realized character in this movie, not just a prop to be used in the action scenes, and I think they pulled it off. In twenty years this'll probably look as fake as the rubber shark in Jaws, but we aren't there yet. That's no reason to put off making fantasy pictures until then.

I won't say it's a flawless film. There was a point I found myself wondering not just what the characters were thinking in allowing Bruce's father to go on, and on, and on. It's a long speech that drags down the rhythm of the film, which was by then fairly fast-paced, having built up that speed slowly. The speech ends, and we go right back into the action. I'm fine with breaking rhythm for good dramatic reasons, but this speech did nothing other than tell us what we already knew: Bruce's dad is nuts. I've sat across the Thanksgiving table from a few of these rants (not from any members of my family, of course), and I understand the urge to hulk out just to make it stop, but that doesn't make it any less annoying.

But like I said, the action picks up again right after, and the ending is very, very satisfying. Five minutes after I left the theater, I'd forgotten my lone gripe, but had clear memories of a half-dozen great things about the movie, and I was able to ride that good movie buzz all the way home. So, yeah, two thumbs up, but your mileage may vary if all you're looking for is "Hulk smash!"

Oh, and go rent Ride with the Devil, Ang Lee's take on the Civil War western.

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