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Kino Korner June 26, 2003
 
Hulk Shoulda Stomped The Festival
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
 
Page 3 of 4
 
Moreover, when he went on his anger rampages, he was unable to control himself. Bruce Banner transformed into something physically different. In other words -- and this is key -- WHEN HE EXPLODED IN RAGE, IT WASN'T BRUCE BANNER'S FAULT.

That was my dream. I was a spaz as a kid. I got into a lot of trouble, both at home and at school. I didn't want to be the kid who always got in trouble. Young boys are like dogs -- you want to be patted on the head, fed a treat. So when you spaz out and get in trouble, you don't want to take the blame for it. I liked Bruce Banner's alibi -- he literally transformed into someone else every time he fucked up.

So The Hulk was my comic book hero of choice, though I don't remember sticking to him very loyally. I didn't watch The Hulk TV series once when it aired. It struck me as boring and stupid. The Hulk of my imagination wasn't a mere body-builder with cheap body-paint snarling in Bionic-Man slo-mo. My Hulk was a demi-god, totally un-human.

And this is the best thing about The Incredible Hulk movie released last week. The Hulk monster -- and by the way, I thought it looked damn cool (except the stupid blinking -- someone should tar and feather the ass who decided that all digitally-animated characters have to blink). The Hulk of Ang Lee is truly un-human. Homeric. Like the old claymation gods, only much more believable. My only complaint is that the Hulk monster should be in the movie far more. I get the idea that they weren't quite confident enough that people would buy into him, which explains all the diversionary plot and character build-up stuff. For a good example of how much air-time should be given to the un-human side of comic book characters, see X-Men and X-2.

The choice of Eric Bana to play Bruce Banner should be enough of a reason for you to see this movie. Bana's performance as the lead in Chopper is easily the best of the 21st century. It ranks up there with De Niro's Raging Bull and Pesci's Goodfellas characters for sheer ticking-time-bomb comedy. That movie saved my life when I lived in Louisville.

Unfortunately Bana isn't nearly as intense in The Hulk. To expect that would be ridiculous, of course: it's a comic book, for chrissakes. Moreover I can't really judge his acting or even the movie. It's hard for me to say anything definite because my viewing was screwed up at the American Cinema by a gang of about a dozen young Russian teens who took the far back seats and spent the entire movie giggling, yapping to each other or on their cell phones, and making loud crude jokes of the very dumb variety, even by 14-year-old crude joke standards.

This created an entirely separate tension which overpowered the movie's dramatic tension. When it comes to sending a crowd's blood pressure through the roof, there's nothing like a cocky pack of pimple-dicked teenagers in a movie theater. I don't care if they were showing Black Hawk Down or The Ring -- those kids had everyone in a paralyzed rage. The reason is simple: if you try to tell a pack of kids to shuttup, the chances of failure are 100% -- roughly equal to the chance that their heckles will grow in pitch, with you the new designated roastee.

British bookmakers had the kids in at 1:5 odds.

When the movie got loud and Hulk smashed tanks, threw giant manhole-cover-shaped objects and kangaroo'd 15 miles per hop, everything was cool. But Ang Lee's deliberate dynamics made sure that there were always plenty of slower, quieter moments. Designed, as Butt-head once said about Radiohead's song "Creep," on the theory that "if you don't have slow parts that suck, then the violent loud parts wouldn't be as cool." Which meant the kids could not be ignored. The movie was ruined -- even when I didn't hear them, I listened for their banter.

At about the 2/3 mark I stormed out of the theater and demanded my money back. Instead of refunding me, the manager-woman scribbled something on my ticket and told me I could come back for free, apologizing for the kids.


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Ames
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Email Mark Ames at editor@exile.ru.
 
 
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