Efficiency, sarcasm, and natty fur!

This monkey and this robot once had a system: three blogs for three subjects. But it was complicated and vague and usually ended in feces throwing. So we have combined all three into a melange of media reviews and links and excessive blather, so as to reduce the burden on your short attention span.

In the right column, Monkey + Robot have compiled for you a compendium of sassy, savvy and in the know media reviews and tidbits, for your time-wasting pleasure. And lest you poke at us with sticks or cut off our power supply, the reviews are now selectable through those perky drop-down menus. Monkey + Robot Film and TV reviews, Wrongrobot's Comic Stash, and more.

Grab a chunk of melon and some Demoral, because in the left column, we have accumulated for you every snappy link we found amusing, entertaining, provocatively witty, or frankly, just colorful, with easy to understand small words so monkeybites can follow along. Such is Robotic Root!

Entertainment Media Ratings System:

Wrongrobot's Robot Rating: 1-10 Clicks, more indicating a happier robot!

Monkeybites' Monkey Rating: 1-10 Ooks! More indicating a mouthful of rotting simian teeth and lips curled in monkey pleasure!

IronLung's Robot Rating: 1-10 Clanks! More indicating a red-eyed, slack-jawed, blissed-out, ride-pimped dizzy droid! [this is good]

Vicbot's Robot Rating: 1-10 Whirrs! More indicating data that computes well with others.

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WWW http://monkey-plus-robot-reviews.blogspot.com
Wrongrobot's Fantasy Film Casting:
Casting Batman: Year One
Casting The Losers
Casting Richard Zach's Pirate Hunter

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Film Reviews [M+R Review Rating, out of 10 Possible Clicks, or Clanks, or Ooks]

Adventures of Baron Munchausen: 8 Clicks
Aliens Vs. Predator: 1 Clank
Bad Santa: 9 Clicks
Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever: 2 Clicks
Bend it Like Beckham: 8 Clicks
Bourne Supremacy: 10 Clicks
Bowling for Columbine: 8 Clicks
Bubba Ho-Tep: 8 Clanks
Cirque du Soleil- Allegria [stage]: 10 Clicks
Cold Mountain: 7 Clicks
Cutthroat Island: 2 Clicks
Elf: 8 Clicks
Equilibrium: 6 Clicks
Escape From Alcatraz: 7 Clicks
Finding Nemo: 10 Clicks
Girl With a Pearl Earring: 7 Clicks
The Graduate [stage]: 7 Clicks
Hero: 7 Clanks
House of 1000 Corpses: 5 Clanks
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days: 5 Clicks
Hudson Hawk: 6 Clanks
The Hulk: 7 Clicks
Identity: 3 Clicks
Igby Goes Down: 5 Clicks
Intolerable Cruelty: 6 Clicks
I, Robot [trailer commentary][IronLung]
I, Robot [trailer commentary][Wrongrobot]
Kill Bill Vol.1: 10 Clicks
Kill Bill Vol.2 [IronLung]: 9 Clanks
Kill Bill Vol.2 [Wrongrobot]: 10 Clicks
The Last Samurai: 8 Clicks
LotR: Return of the King: 7 Clicks
My Architect: 9 Clicks
Original Kings of Comedy: 7 Clicks
The Phantom: 1 Click
Pirates of the Caribbean: 9 Clicks
The Punisher: 5 Clanks
Secretary: 9 Clicks
Shanghai Knights: 4 Clicks
Spellbound: 7 Clicks
Spider-Man 2: 8 Clanks/ 8 Clicks
Starsky & Hutch: 8 Clicks
Star Trek- Nemesis: 6.5 Clicks
Terminator 3: 5 Clicks, 2 Ooks
The Thin Red Line: 7 Clicks
To Live and Die in LA: 10 Clicks
Troy: n/a
Van Helsing: 4 Clicks, 0 Clanks!
Whale Rider: 8 Clicks

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Comic Film Adaptations News [Film and TV]:

Appleseed OAV 2004 6/18/04
Aeon Flux: 2/27/04
9/1/04
9/10/04
Akira Live-Action Film 9/29/04
Animated Batman 2004 9/2/04
Batman Begins: 2/12/04 2/19/04 2/24/04 3/02/04 3/03/04 3/04/04 3/08/04 3/9/04 3/17/04 3/19/04 3/31/04 TRDL Concept Illustration 4/3/04 4/5/04 4/12/04 TRDL Concept Illustration Part 2 4/12/04 4/21/04 4/22/04 4/23/04 4/23/04 4/29/04 5/4/04 Costume Critique 5/4/04 Script Excerpts 5/7/04 6/01/04 6/04/04 6/09/04 6/10/04 6/15/04 6/16/04 7/6/04 7/13/04 7/20/04 7/26/04 7/28/04 Trailer 7/29/04 7/31/04 8/2/04 8/3/04 8/4/04 8/5/04 8/8/04 8/10/04 8/12/04 8/17/04 8/20/04 8/24/04 8/30/04 10/19/04
Battle Angel Alita: 9/10/04
Black Widow 4/29/04
Blade 3: Trinity: 5/4/04 6/11/04
Catwoman: 2/18/04 5/21/04 Game Concept Art 5/21/04 6/11/04 Suckage! 7/29/04
Comic Adaptations 10/13/03
Constantine: 3/08/04 5/14/04
Dazzler?!? 7/7/04
Elektra: 2/19/04 3/29/04 4/23/04 5/14/04 4/29/04 5/4/04 6/10/04 6/18/04 7/1/04 7/2/04 7/6/04 7/29/04 9/20/04 10/13/04
Fantastic Four: 6/16/04 7/8/04 7/14/04 7/15/04 8/3/04 9/20/04
Ghost in the Shell 2: 9/18/04
Global Frequency: 6/15/04 7/16/04 8/17/04
Good Time For Comic Films! 5/14/04
Green Lantern?!?: 7/24/04 Koboshed 8/8/04
Hawaiian Dick: 4/21/04 Interview 4/22/04
He-Man: 10/11/04
Hellboy: 2/12/04 Interview: Del Toro 2/20/04
3/03/04 3/9/04 3/17/04 Personality Test 3/17/04 Figures Released 3/29/04 Toys Addendum 3/30/04 Choose the Next Figures! 4/21/04 Hellboy: An Introduction 3/30/04 Interview: Selma Blair 3/30/04
Interview: Spectral Motion 4/5/04 Caught On Film in '62! 4/21/04 Interview: Selma Blair, CafeFX 4/28/04 Hellboy Collaborator Medical Fund Auction! 5/4/04 DVDs 7/7/04 7/28/04 8/3/04 8/5/04 8/25/04 8/31/04 Hellboy 2: 3/29/04 4/8/04 6/03/04 8/27/04 9/1/04
9/14/04
Hulk 2? 5/4/04 9/7/04

Hulk Op-Ed 7/14/04
Iron Man: 3/03/04 4/23/04 6/10/04 6/28/04 9/14/04
8/2/04 8/10/04
Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD 9/8/04
Preacher FX 4/29/04
Sin City: 3/19/04 4/04/21 4/04/29 4/05/19 5/21/04 6/01/04 6/11/04 7/1/04 7/26/04 7/28/04 7/20/04 8/11/04 9/15/04
Spider-Man 2: 2/18/04 3/29/04
Spider-Man 3: 5/4/04 5/14/04 6/10/04 7/13/04 Spider-Man 2 Game Screenshots 6/8/04 Spider-Man 2 [trailer commentary]
Superman: 5/21/04 6/03/04 6/09/04 6/10/04 6/28/04 7/1/04 7/13/04 7/14/04 7/20/04 8/5/04 8/10/04 8/27/04 8/31/04 9/10/04 9/15/04 10/19/04 [2] 10/19/04
Transformers: 9/10/04
Wanted 3/03/04
Watchmen: 4/4/23 4/7/24 7/24/24 8/12/04 9/10/04
Wolverine: 10/13/04
X-Men 3: 7/20/04 5/4/04 6/18/04 7/7/04 7/8/04 7/14/04 7/15/04 7/20/04 8/27/04 Aborted Sentinel? 9/2/04 9/7/04 9/15/04

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Film News, General:

A Scanner Darkly Film Adaptation
Akira: Kaneda's Bike in Production? 8/28/04
Aliens Vs. Predator: 6/2/04 Chess Set 5/26/04 6/8/04 Trailor 6/11/04 6/28/04 7/8/04 [trailer commentary] 8/5/04 8/8/04 7/15/04 8/12/04
Anchorman 7/13/04
Big Lebowski Day! 5/5/04
Bloodrayne 8/10/04
Bond? Who Bond? 8/3/04
Bourne Supremacy: 1/6/04 Trailer: 5/4/04 7/8/04
Cage Deserves Happiness 7/31/04
Clooney/ Tarantino in the News 10/15/03
Dodgeball 6/01/04
Domino 8/3/04
HEAT vs. R:HD: Dialog Analysis 10/22/03
Heat/ GTA III: Lawsuits Imitate Life 10/23/03
Incredibles 8/23/04
Jim White Documentary 3/23/04
Kill Bill 2 Poster 2/18/04
Kill Bill Interview: Uma Thurman 4/8/04
Kill Bill Vol. 3?! 4/12/04
The Life Aquatic 1/15/04
Matrix Explained? 8/31/04
National Treasure 8/4/04
Nowhere Man 7/26/04
Pierce is Bond No More 7/27/04
Sky Captain 7/15/04
Sky High 8/17/04
Soderberg Joins Che 4/5/04
Speed Racer: Vince Vaughn 6/25/04
Stealth 7/8/04
Summer 04 Films to Watch 4/22/04
Team America Puppet Porn 8/25/04
Transporter 2 6/16/04
Van Helsing: Van Helsing WHO? 3/16/04 Interview: ILM 5/5/04 Penny Arcade 5/18/04
Underworld 2 9/7/04
WB Kills ESC F/X 8/18/04
Will Smith Lexicon 5/18/04
Zatoichi: Blind Swordsman 6/25/04
No Mas James Bond
Miami Vice on the Big Screen

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TV Reviews, and the M+R Review Rating, out of 10 Possible Clicks, or Clanks, or Ooks

24 Season 3: 10/29/03: 8 Whirrs 11/5/03: 6 Whirrs 2/08/04: 7 Whirrs 2/12/04: 8 Whirrs 2/18/04: 8 Whirrs 2/24/04: 9 Whirrs 4/06/04: 7 Whirrs 4/26/04: 6 Whirrs 5/03/04: 3 Whirrs 5/11/04: 9 Whirrs 5/18/04: 8 Whirrs Finale 7/8/04: 3 Whirrs
Apprentice: Robin and Carolyn 4/16/04
ATHF and Space Ghost Links 2/25/04
ATHF: Revenge of the Trees 10/13/03: 8 Clicks The Shaving 10/27/03: 7 Clicks Super Trivia 9/22/03: 8 Clicks Battlestar Galactica 1/13/04: 3 Clicks
Carnivale: 9/22/03: 10 Clicks 9/30/03: 9 Clicks
Christopher Columbus: Secrets From the Grave: 3 Clicks
CSI: 8/11/03: 1 Ook 9/26/03: 5 Clicks CSI: Miami: 7/30/03: 1 Ook 7/31/03: 6 Clicks 9/26/03: 7 Clicks
Deadwood 3/24/04: 8 Clicks
Dinner for Five: 9/26/03: 7 Clicks 9/30/03: 7 Clicks
Ed: 9/26/03: 3 Clicks Series Finale 2/12/04: 7 Clicks
Emmy Nominations 04 7/15/04: 7 Clicks
Enterprise 10/13/03: 6 Clicks
Everybody Loves Raymond 9/26/03: 6 Clicks
Friends 9/26/03: 7 Clicks
Grammys: Outkast's Andre 3000 2/9/04: 10 Clicks
Law and Order Family: 9/30/03: 8 Clicks
Law and Order: 10/13/03
Law and Order: CI: 1/12/04: 8 Clicks
Marvel Comics Guide to NYC: 10 Clicks
Method and Red: 9 Clicks
MI-5 10/28/03: 10 Clicks
Mix It Up 1/12/04: 8 Clicks
Mr. Show: What to Think 9/10/03: 10 Clicks
Penn & Teller's Bullshit: 9 Clanks
Reno 911!: 9 Clicks 9/7/03
Space Ghost C2C: Baffler Meal: 11 Clicks! Flipmode 2/25/04:20 Clicks Survivor 7 9/19/03: 8 Clicks
Survivor All-Stars: 2/12/04: 8 Clicks 2/13/04: 7 Clicks Tour de France 2003 8/4/03: 8 Clicks
Will & Grace 9/26/03: 7 Clicks

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TV News

24/Law and Order/CSI "That Guy" Character Actor Tracker
24: Comic Adaption 3/25/04 Season 4 Casting 8/9/04
Amazing Screw-On Head Cartoon 4/8/04
Cigarette Smoking Man Action Figure 5/26/04
CSI: CSI in Comedy Culture 6/24/04 CSI's Peterson 2/18/04 Sick outs Everywhere 7/27/04
CSI: Miami Drinking Game 2/27/04 No Mas Rory Cochrane 8/9/04
CSI:NY: 3/8/04 3/16/04 Drawn Together 8/20/04
HDTV ScreenCap Archive 8/25/04
Jessica Simpson 10/21/03
Mastershake Speaks 9/7/04
Nike's Lance Commercial: Magnet 8/18/04
Law and Order: Trial by Jury Casting 6/04/04
NBC Hijacks TiVo 1/15/04
Simpsons' Shearer Balks 8/12/04
Survivor All-Stars Cast 1/12/04
Survivor 9 8/18/04
Robbery: Homicide Division Music 9/30/03

French Connection Made for TV


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Wrongrobot's Comics Stash- Comics and Sequential Art Reviews

Comic Reviews, and the M+R Review Rating, out of 10 Possible Clicks, or Clanks, or Ooks

Comics Reviews Intro
100 Bullets: 48: 7 Clicks
52, 53: 8 Clicks
9-11, Artists Respond Collections
Alias: 24-25: 10 Clicks 26-27: 10 Clicks 28: 9 Clicks
Astonishing X-Men: 2: 8 Clicks 3,4: 9,10 Clicks
Avengers: 500: 8 Clicks 502: 7 Clicks
Batgirl Year One TPB: 10 Clicks
Batman: 620: 5 Clicks 621: 7 Clicks
Batman: Long Halloween: 7 Clanks
Bloodstream 1: 1 Click
BPRD One Shots: 9/7 Clicks
Cla$$War: 4: 8 Clicks 5: 10 Clicks
Daredevil: 50-52: 9/3/5 Clicks 54: 4 Clicks 56: 9 Clicks 57: 7 Clicks
65: 6 Clicks
Domino:Perfect Weapon: 8 Clicks
Exiles: 30-33: 6/4/4 Clicks 36-37: 3/6 Clicks
Ex Machina: 2, 3: 7 Clicks
Global Frequency 11: 10 Clicks
Gotham Central: 10-11: 9 Clicks 13: 9 Clicks 16-18: 9 Clicks
Hellhounds 1-3: 7 Clicks
Human Target: 4: 9 Clicks 5-6: 8 Clicks 7: 8 Clicks
12, 13: 9 Clicks
Iron Man: 73-75: 8 Clicks 76: 2 Clicks 77: 5 Clicks 86: 9 Clicks
JSA: 51-52: 7/8 Clicks 53: 8 Clicks 54: 4 Clicks 56-57: 7 Clicks 58: 3 Clicks
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 2: 3 Clanks, 8 Clicks
The Losers: Ante Up TPB: 9 Clanks 6: 10 Clicks 10-11: 8/10 Clicks
16: 10 Clicks
New Invaders 0: 3 Clicks
New X-Men: 144-146: 5 Clicks 149: 3 Clicks 151-152: 2 Clicks 153: 3 Clicks
[Renamed X-Men] 159-162: 4 Clicks
Paradise X: A: 9 Clicks
Planetary: TPBs (1-12): 8 Clicks 16: 5 Clicks : 8 Clicks 18: 9 Clicks
Powers: 33: 8 Clicks 36: 9 Clicks 37: 10 Clicks V2, 1: 10 Clicks
2-4: 10 Clicks
Pulse: 5: 7 Clicks
Queen and Country: 20: 10 Clicks 21: 10 Clicks 25: 8 Clicks
The Ride 1: 9 Clicks
Secret War 1: 8 Clicks
Sleeper: 8: 10 Clicks 11: 10 Clicks 12: 10 Clicks Sleeper Season Two: 1: 10 Clicks
Supreme Power: 1-2: 10 Clicks 4: 10 Clicks 7: 10 Clicks 8: 9 Clicks 11: 8 Clicks
Tokyo Storm Warning TPB: 5 Clicks
Ultimates: 12: 10 Clicks 13: 10 Clicks
Ultimate Fantastic Four 1-2: 7 Clicks 3: 8 Clicks
Ultimate Nightmare: 1: 10 Clicks
2: 8 Clicks
Ultimate Six: 1: 10 Clicks 4: 10 Clicks 6: 9 Clicks Ultimate X-Men: 36-37: 2 Clicks
Ultra: 2: 9 Clicks
Uncanny X-Men: 429-431: 4 Clicks 433: 2 Clicks 437-441: 1 Click 444-445: 5 Clicks 446: 6 Clicks
Wanted 2: 10 Clicks
We3: 1: 10 Clicks
Wildcats 3.0: 13: 7 Clicks 16: 7 Clicks 18: 7 Clicks
X-Statix : 2: 4 Clicks 13-15: 6 Clicks 18: 4 Clicks 19: 3 Clicks

:::
Friends of Robot: Artists:

FoR: 36Oh.net FofR: Enrico Casarosa
FoR: Terra Major's Horns of Hattin
FoR: Losstarot
FoR: Prometheus
FoR: Studio Kosen

Comic News:

Check the Film News section for updates on comic-related film adaptations! 100 Bullets FPS Game 4/2/04
Ale Garza on Batgirl 8/5/04
Amazing Screw-On Head Cartoon 4/8/04
Apparat Line: Warren Ellis 8/25/04
The Atomic Revolution Comic 3/23/04
Authority: Nguyen Interview 5/14/04
Authority OGN 7/20/04
Avengers 500 Preview 7/1/04
Brent Anderson on Pulse, Astro City 3/25/04
Batman Begins Costume Illustration [Wrongrobot]4/3/04
Batman: War on Crime 8/31/04
Bullseye Origin Series 6/28/04
Comics For Intellectuals 9/1/04
Decompression and Pacing 9/23/03
Dillon on Bullseye 9/7/04
Doc Frankenstein by Burlyman 9/2/04
Doc Ock Year One 6/16/04
Earth's Mightiest Mini 9/3/04
Ellis and Granov on Iron Man 5/25/04
Ellis Stream-a-Blog: Iron Man 7/31/04
Ellis Stream-a-Blog: Explodo 8/2/04
Ellis Stream-a-Blog: Bad Kids 8/27/04
Fox Sued over LoEG Script 9/26/03
Hawaiian Dick Bk 2 8/23/04
Hack/Slash book 2 6/18/04
Hal Jordon and Copyrights 8/20/04
Hellboy: An Introduction 3/30/04
IDW's 24 Comic 3/25/04
Iron Man Facelift 9/12/03
Iron Man 87 Outtakes 8/27/04
Joss Whedon Interview: Astonishing X-Men 8/10/04
JSA vs. JSA 8/12/04
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 3 6/1/04
Marvel Vs. DC 8/31/04
Masamune Shirow 10/15/03
Micro-Heros Animated GIFs 4/6/04
Morrison on JLA: Hyperclan and Superman 6/1/04
Morrison's WE3 9/1/04
New Avengers 8/18/04
Nguyen Confirmed on Authority Vol.3 5/14/04
Nouvelle Manga Manifesto 6/11/03
Ocean 8/9/04
Orson Welles as Batman? 9/26/03
Phoenix Mini-Series 8/20/04
Poorly Drawn Animals 8/2/04
Remains: Niles/Dwyer Interview 3/12/04
Scurvy Dog: Yount Interview 1/15/04
SD Comicon Visual Oddities 7/31/04
Space Ghost 7/31/04
Spandex vs Leather 4/6/04
Steven Grant on 'Literature of Ethics'
The Losers: Diggle/Jock Interview 3/11/04
The Picture of Everything 1/15/04
The Question: Rick Veitch 9/1/04
The Question: Tommy Lee Edwards 9/2/04
Teddy Roosevelt From Mars 8/20/04
Tom Coker: Batman in Monolith 8/30/04
Tony Harris Pages from new Iron Man Arc
Ultimates: Bryan Hitch Interview 9/12/03
Ultra 8/18/04
Watchmen Remembered 8/12/04
WizardWorld LA Promo Art 3/22/04
WonderCon 2004 Buzz 8/13/04
WonderCon 2004 Buzz 2 8/17/04
WonderCon 2004 Dance-Off 8/18/04
Worlds Finest Film 7/26/04
World's Finest Interview 8/4/04
Young Avengers 8/20/04
Identity Crisis Covers
Honey Moon, The Ride, Rex Steele, Shirow, Megacity909
Comic Preview: Intimates, Iron Man
TSR Illustrator Terminally ill
Twinkie Comics, Avengers Dissembled Toy-style
Interview: Mark Millar of Ultimates
Interview: Cliff Chiang of Human Target
Star Trek Manga Anthology from Tokyopop
Pop Mahn to TokyoPop
Granov Iron Man Preview Pages
Image Comics Moves to Berkeley

Film Review: the Hulk
7/08/2003




Let me first say that I was nauseaus from all the overhyped critical flogging this film received months before it's release. As a comics fan since early childhood, I'm no stranger to high expectations from comic-based film adaptations. However, i'm also a film fan, and I know full well that these comic flicks are inspired by, born from, and even mirror their comic origins...but they're not pure comic translations on celluloid. And if they were, they'd suck to high heaven. Comics are a successful medium because they use graphic shorthand and an implicit pacing language to tell a story. Move that line by line to film, and you have a disaster. But with every move away from the religiously guarded canon of comic continuity, a comic-based film seems to enrage hardcore fans by the thousands. Extremely loose or particularly Hollywood-ified comic adaptations agitate me as much as the next comic fan, but when effort is made to capture the essence of a comic book root, while adapting the material in content, design, and execution, I give the project my full attention. So, despite the boo-hoos from diehards who saw early footage of the CGI Hulk swinging tanks and then pouting, despite the box-office opening numbers scrutiny that judges a $60M+ opening and $100M+ to date purse a failure, despite the predictable complaints from action movie fans that Ang Lee ruined a perfectly good "Smash Everything" summer film with a heavy dose of maudlin drama, despite all this pre-conceived baggage swirling around in the media about this film, off I went to see it.

Everything from this point on could potentially contain spoilers, which is to say S P O I L E R S, so if you haven't seen the film, and you plan on it, how about you come back to this review later.

As I watched it, I tried to consider this film from a few areas: Did it capture the essence of the Hulk as a comic icon? Was the script well-developed, regardless of the comic content? Did the effects bear scrutiny? Was the editing and technique effective? and were the performances effective? I also pondered why, in a third week showing that held a total of 8 theater-goers, was every possible theater distraction present? We had the Cell-Phone Guy (talking loudly up front and up to his seat, during previews and the beginning of the film), the BBQ Smugglers (I kid you not, we heard foil, and paper, and squirt bottles of SOMETHING, and chomping and slurping...I was annoyed and hungry simultaneously) the Squealing Infant , the Film Flapper("Why did he do THAT? Don't trust HIM!") and even Excessive Seat Mismanagement Guy, who couldn't sit still without getting up shifting, muttering, taking his jacket off, putting it back on, etc. But despite these setbacks, the show went on.

To me, the Hulk as a comic icon was always two analogies in one: Dangerous Technology, and Repressed Emotions. The comic Hulk was born from an accident involving a "gamma bomb" explosion, which was sort of like a safe way of saying "atomic explosion squared, but govenrnment, please don't censor my comic"...it was mad scientists run amok, Einstein proven right, and the military responsible for abusing the bastard technology for all the scary, typical reasons. His green (well, gray and then green) freakout was rage rage rage, and the more people messed with him, or Betty, the more pissed he got and so on. Stan Lee was not a subtle writer, but there was little room for subtlety in 60's Marvel anyway, and "seeing green" seems like a reasonable starting point for a comic character to me. What the hell. So, thematically, we've got the misunderstood man-monster, created from, railing against, and persecuted by the military-industrial complex. Boys with bad toys. Protect the girl. Control the anger. Got it. Plotwise, the comics generally revolved around Hulk being chased around by military task forces, general infantry, and evil despots, all the while trying to get five minutes alone with pretty Betty Ross, who's father didn't approve because the Hulk was, you know, different and not good enough for his daughter (which probably sounds pretty familiar to a young teenage boy, I'd think.)

Essence:

Ang Lee's interpretation of the Hulk as a comic icon was well-developed. The general paranoid anti-atomic bomb origin was mutated into the dangers of animal testing and experimentation, and by extension, genetic manipulation, with a gamma explosion thrown in as an accidental catalyst, which also serves as a comparative element between Bruce and his estranged father. Great, great time and energy was spent exploring the theoretical science behind how the Hulk's abilities might have been isolated, much in the same way Sam Raimi did in Spider-Man, using the genetic sampling concept to draw parallels between the Hulk's future attributes and naturally occurring traits in animal life. There are oodles of repressed memory bits and psycho-trauma development to rationalize the rage-factor as well as the Hulk transformation trigger. Banner, as the Hulk, is alternately chased, attacked, quarantined, imprisoned, experimented on, chased some more, all by the same military figures that were at least tangentially involved in his creation. He's obstensibly weapon potential to them, and the personal motivations of his pursuers (Thuderbolt Ross' hatred of the Banner family line and his association with daughter Betty, or Talbot's financial greed, ambition and jealousy) also are established. And finally, Banner is portrayed as a man struggling with his own inner demons, desperately needing to find release from the pressure of emotional trauma, while the Hulk is portrayed initially as a monster, and then gradually a persecuted victim, granted a very dangerous one. All of these tweaks this script made to the original comic roots greatly served the film. Anyone familiar with Lee's work knew to expect characterization and some effort to mine meaning from the material, as much as possible in a big-budget Hollywood film anyway. I was very impressed with this material.

Script:

Where the script worked, I thought it REALLY worked. Where it faltered, it reeked of dillution. The interplay between Bruce, Betty, and to some degree, General Ross was well-developed and paced in such a way as to establish the mood for the film. I thought the script avoided several hackneyed elements just waiting to be abused, particularly with regards to the damsel in distress cliches. On the contrary, I found Betty Ross' character to be defined and believable. Bruce's struggle was also well-scripted. Ross was terse and uncommunicative, which is exactly what I felt the character needed. He could have easily been portrayed as an unhinged power-drunk warmonger, as Bad Military Guys frequently are. But his emotional isolation and communication issues were directly tied, in my mind, to why Betty would have fallen for another emotionally under-developed man in her adult life. Where the script fell apart, I think, was the use of Bruce's father in the plot. Up until a particularly nasty conflict, commonly referred to in Hulk-talk as the HULK DOG ATTACK, I thought the concept of Bruce's father's sins being responsible for Bruce's own trauma (and his father's skewed attempts at reconciliation) was sound. However, after this creepy scene, the script saw Bruce's father seeking to harness Bruce's power, as if it were an abstract "other" alien component of Bruce's psyche, which I felt defeated the very important thematic concept that the rage-fueled Hulk is intrinsically part of Bruce, and must be managed, not denied existence or simply surrendered to, just as we all struggle to maintain emotional balance. And from there, Daddy Dearest got more and more whacked until the climax of the film cenetered on a father-son battle of will/dominance/identity buried within an extremely difficult to follow action slug-fest. Finally, from a pacing standpoint, the script was somewhat imbalanced. I appreciated the effort to focus on the human angle first, and gradually bring in the Hulk later in the film. But I thought the pacing was overall too uneven, and this undermined the slower start. Had the film developed steam slowly, then built into a crescendo of Hulk-Smashness, I think it would have been more effective (and less vulnerable to critics.)

Effects:

The CGI effects, and much more importantly, their integration into filmed scenes, were actually visionary. My pre-conceived skepticism is a testament to how poorly the previews represented this film. I felt they awkwardly screwed with the Hulk's relative scale and behavior by focusing on footage from the later desert scenes. The previews should have shown very little Hulkage, and all of it from the early "manacing Hulk" moments. The CGI work on the Hulk form was astounding. Eric Bana's face was clearly visible in the Hulk's visage, as a resemblance but not an exact match, much the way a child might resemble it's parents, which is in this case fitting enough. The musculature, particularly in motion, was somewhat awkward in overall massing, the Hulk being as wide as a truck and out of proportion, but this is true to the Hulk character designs. But where the massing was odd, the muscles themselves were very realistic. He literally rippled with rage as his muscles flexed and contorted in either rage or effort. The Hulk's facial expressions were great; he looked either royally pissed or annoyed or confused or even satisfied with his destructive dirty work on a few occasions. And the calm, pensive Hulk was well represented in the facial animation. The skin texturing in various lighting conditions and environmental contexts, was the best i've ever seen. I was delighted that the Hulk was dirty from digging his way to San Francisco. The combat sequences, particularly the Hulk Dog Attack and several of the tank and helicoptor ballistic attacks were creatively handled, with the Hulk absolutely swarmed by opponents in true King Kong style. The attack helicoptors were especially menacing in their manueverability, and the impacts of weapons-fire on the Hulk's hide were carefully rendered. Overall, I found no fault in the CGI, save for one instant when Banner is shrinking back to human form in a puddle of water in broad daylight, and the puddle doesn't behave properly where his feet meet the materiality of the water.

Editing:

Actually, this was the biggest trouble area, which perplexed me given that Ang Lee's other films were nearly perfectly edited. Ice Storm and Crouching Tiger each convey much of their tone through editing. And suddenly we have the Hulk, a serious psycho-drama, edited with effects that seem to be channeling comic book page language. Ridiculous! The title and credit scripts, as well as segue titling, were in a comic book font. Jarring bold outlining intercut scenes of the film in ways that would make a Film School Professor cringe. They did more to undermine the content of the film than anything else by far. At one point, a figure is outlined in bold graphics like 70's Charlie's Angels. I mean, what the hell were they thinking with this, I'll never understand. And even stepping back from the worst of it, looking at the frequent use of multi-paning frames of video (where a scene is broken down into multiple simultaneous angles), the editing fell far short of my expectations. The TV series 24 has pioneered, for two seasons, the use of multi-paning frames, and always with dramatic effect. I never thought much about the content of the framing when watching 24, until i saw how NOT to do it in this film. In 24, multiple views served to show relevant information, build tension or tie simultaneous actions together to other scenes. In the Hulk, they were used seemingly arbitrarily, with little or no added content or dramatic effect, and frequently, I'm afraid, as a moving segue effect like some pre-gen Flash presentation might have done. One scene would split into two, and then the second would force the first one out of frame. Much has been said by critics about this being assumed to be Ang Lee's attempt to allude to the comic origins of the film. If this is so, then it was badly executed. On the flip-side, there was an absolutely brilliant stylistic choice which I greatly appreciated. Early on, the Hulk is only seen partially obscured in dim lighting, menacing and carnal. As the film progresses, the scale on the Hulk scenes moves farther and farther out, beginning with the moment he steps from the shadowy cover of the forest canopy to greet Betty in the mountains. By moving him into more and more desolate, massively-scaled environemnts, and allowing the Hulk to take up less and less of the frame, Lee re-humanized the Hulk and turned the focus of the camera on the Hulk's attackers as being the aggressive forces in the melees. This was a clever way of moving the Hulk from a horrible monster to a misunderstood, provoked animal/man. I particularly appreciated how small he looked when surrounded by cute SF Victorian apartments I secretly wanted him to smash.

Performances:

Eric Bana, Jennfer Connelly, and Sam Elliot turned in fine performances, the former two more nuanced than the latter. Nick Nolte was pretty much out of control. At first I was going with it, because of the implication of years of repressed emotion of his own at the horrors he experienced and unleahed in his life. But towards the muddled final chapter of the film, he was DUI Mugshot Nolte, not a screen performance. It was extremely distracting. Josh Lucas was doing fine until he played his character irrationally during the final Hulk-encounter. Cara Buono didn't have much to do, but was satisfactory in the role of Bruce's biological mother. I was trying to figure out why I recognized her until i looked it up and discovered she's been in maybe 1,000 Law and Order eps.

Overall, I was pleased with the film. The editing misfires, and the muddled final chapter were distracting, but didn't sully the experience for me. The Hulk action scenes were intense enough to make my jaw drop in at least two occasions, and despite what some peple have said, I didn't find the pacing of the first (read:slow) part of the film difficult at all. I thought this was the most cerebral comic-based film to date, and a great effort by an innovative directory making a serious attempt to rationalize a character, and a medium (western comics) and turn them into a meaningful film.

7/10 Clicks



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