Hulk and LXG
7.26.2003 by , every Thursday.
The summer keeps trucking along as July is just about to come to an end. Parents everywhere are just about fed up with their bored children, who are going stir-crazy in apartments across the city. Example, the lovely couple that lives above me have had their kids play everyones favorite game “Drop the Bowling Ball” all week long. It's such fun. But what can I do? They never complained when I practiced on my electric guitar, I put up with rug-rats bouncing off the walls.
Anyways, this month I hit the theaters to see two of this summer's comic book inspired movies in “Hulk” and “LXG: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”. As the comic craze rolls along in theaters, surely some of them would have to be on the disappointing side, as some would inevitably have to be better than others. After seeing X2, these two were the one I'd picked to be dragging behind the rest. Good news: they were better than I'd thought they'd be. Bad News: they were dragging behind the rest. Spoiler alert follows, so if you're the type to be picky about that sort of thing, go see the flicks first, then mosey back here.
Okay, so I'd heard terrible things about “Hulk” before even walking into the theater at all. Rumours of shoddy CG work, a wet towel actor in Eric Bana, and “Hulk Dogs” had all made waiting in line for this movie full of dread. I like the Hulk, and more over, I feel sensitive when it comes to comic movies. Being “out” as a comic reader, I worry that a bad comic flick will make people look at me and see nothing but the old “Captain America” movie.
Well, the upside is, the things I was most worried about were okay. The CG looked much better than the first trailers showed. The actual Hulk was decent on screen, looking big and green and sort of real. It did still have that decidedly “I'm just a computer graphic” feel to it, but at least it wasn't a “I'm just a poor effort in computer graphics” one. The Hulk Dogs were on screen for only one scene, and though I still thought they sucked, they were mercifully short-lived. (I had thought previously that they'd be a major part of the movie) Lastly, Eric Bana was actually good as Bruce Banner. He was laid back and likeable, and had the restrained scientist attitude down pat. He was a little silly delivering lines like “You wouldn't like me when I'm angry...”, but, I tried in front of the mirror to say those lines, and I've decided that they always come out sounding silly. But he was cool. Also, Sam Elliot as General Ross was excellent. He had a great screen presence, and gave the film a sense of credibility that would have been lacking otherwise. A lot of other critics have also lauded Nick Nolte for his role ad Bruce's father, but his “mad man” act was only so-so in my eyes.
The movie itself was long and very carefully paced. It took it's time to get going, and like all comic films, had to explain the origins of the hero. That took almost 45 minutes here though, longer than most films take to launch into the action. Director Ang Lee was a big name the studio tossed around, and in this movie, you gould see what type of impact he had on the movie. Using clever edits, and Woodstock-esque panel layering, he was able to give a dynamic movie a comic books paneled feel. It's hard to describe, but cool to see. The movie did drag on at times though, where Lee tried to show more introspective sides to the monster. The people I saw the movie with were pretty universal in their opinion that there wasn't enough “Hulk SMASH!” and too much “What is the meaning of all this?”. All in all, I liked the movie, but found it hard to sit through the second time I saw it, and I was amazed it did as well as it did in the box office. Go see it, because it's not horrible, and if you do, try and catch it in theaters, as I'm sure it'll look better on the big screen.
I got around to seeing LXG last night. I was hesitant to see this after reading the trade of the first mini-series from America's Best Comics. The book is a sit back in the big chair and read it quietly while alone kind of book. The movie looked like a raucous smash-em up sci-history that was behind such greats as “Wild Wild West”. Uggh. But my girlfriend got it in her mind that we HAD to see this one, and I guess I had promised all of you my thoughts on it, so we went last night.
Okay, so, first thing to notice is that Alan Moore probably had no say in the screenplay of this movie. It is loosely based of his ideas presented in the comic. Same characters are used (more or less), same bad guy, and a lot of borrowed visuals from artist Kevin O'Neill. That's about where it ends. The plot is a complete departure, and while the characters are the same, they have been altered dramatically from those introduced in the comic. Quartermain is no longer found in an opium den chasing the dragon, Mina Harker is a Vampire, and for some reason, Captain Nemo knows kung-fu.
Well, I didn't mean to sound so negative about this movie right off the bat. It's really easy to nit pick the movie to pieces as a fanboy, so I will admit to finding it entertaining. It was fast and flashy, and easy to watch. The introduction of Dorion Gray and Tom Sawyer was cool, and added to the film, and Mr. Hyde was well done in my eyes. But it's so easy to point out flaws. I must!
Aside from the theme of the comic having been rended in the script, the plot was weak and the villain was laughable. James Moriarty was a criminal super-genius, but for some reason was oft befuddled and forced to run away. He revealed himself for no reason, and in one occasion, when his trap to capture the league failed, he ran upstairs rather than out the door. Hardly regular genius material. There is also a dramatic betrayal mid film, and it is neither shocking to the audience nor dramatic in any way. It was more like “Well, I was a part of the team, but now, it turns out, I am evil.” The fact that the betrayal was also hinted at in the trailers didn't help any either.
The movie seemed thrown together at times. While Hulk was paced out carefully, LXG was seemingly slammed together until it was about two hours long. Character development was begun, then dropped for an action scene. A characters motivation was hinted at, and then it was twisted into explaining to the audience where the character was from. I felt as if it was talking down to me at times. “Would you like me to tell you about how I found KING SOLOMON'S MINES?” and the like seemed as if it were product placement ad crammed into the dialogue.
So, if you must see LXG: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, (geeze, I forgot to mention that the LXG name thing also annoyed the hell out of me. What the hell does LXG mean? Where did they dig that up?) then rent it. Maybe drink a little first, to relax and be able to roll with it more.
So final results:
Hulk: 6/10 - Go see it in the theaters, but know what you're getting into. Special Thanks to Ronan for the free pass.
LXG: 4:10 - You'll get into it, then wonder why you did. Like eating a bag of funions.