Friday, July 4, 2008

Hancock, the Hulk, and Wall·E

All right, movie review time. Mind you, I watch movies on a pretty regular basis, but not all of them count as 'geeky' in nature, so I don't waste space here talking about 'em. Case in point, it took me two years to get around to seeing Casino Royale, I've been over the Bond films for some time, but it was amazingly good. And if you haven't seen it, check out the Woody Allen version of the same movie!

Anyway, first up is Hancock. I didn't know a whole lot going into it, just what you saw on the trailers, but it looked promising. My biggest draw to it was the whole Astro City vibe it had going on. It didn't disappoint either, the first half of the movie had some humor and some gritty super-hero action, plus a lot of sides of the action that you just don't see in the four-color comic book world, again, riding those rails of Kurt Busiek all the way home. It took a weird turn about halfway through the movie though, and I don't know still if I liked it or not. Without spoiling it or anything ('cause I know how many thousands of dedicated readers I have, heh) it just got pretty convoluted, pretty fast, with a lot of huge pivotal story moments without a whole lot of information backing them up. Again, not a bad thing (I think), but it didn't exactly grab me right off the bat. It's still a fun flick, with plenty of worthwhile moments if nothing else.

Next up is the (new) Hulk, or as I like to call it, the Incredible Hulk II, because it seamlessly dovetailed directly off of the Ang Lee version a few years earlier. While we're on it, the Ang Lee version rocked, everyone loves to knock it, but it was a good film in my eyes. On many levels it supersedes the new one really, but on to the new one. Good things: Norton was the best Banner they could've cast, and the Tony Stark cameo at the end was great as they totally lead up to an Ultimate Avengers movie. Oh, they did throw in a bone with Samuel Sterns, aka the Leader, showed his brain swelling up and everything, haha. The action was good, yada yada. The bad: Liv Tyler right off, she just bugs me, period. Although as an actress she does a solid job, something about her in this role didn't gel with me. Freakin' Jennifer Connelly from the Ang Lee version has got it on every level and just makes for a better Betty Ross in my eyes. Also, that cool Stark cameo at the end lost so much steam by not having another Nick Fury cameo after the credits. General Ross asks, "Who's 'we'?", and Stark just smiles, then you should have Fury walk into the bar at the very end and say, "SHIELD, that's who..." And what the heck was Ross drinking? Red Bull and Vodka? What else? The Hulk didn't look any better CGI-wise than he did in Ang's version either, in fact he looked a little 'mottled' the whole time. Abomination was cool I guess, it was a good screen translation, but I always thought of him as a B-list baddie anyway. Bottom line was that this wasn't a replacement, but a sequel to the '03 Hulk, and it wasn't any better. I walked away thinking that it "ain't no Iron Man", but that's not a fair comparison for any comic movie really.

I'm pretty much a Miyazaki homer, anything he does I like for one reason or another, and I think I'm getting to be the same way with the Pixar crew, Wall·E is no exception. For such a large movie, they took a lot of non-traditional paths, which were wonderful. The complete lack of dialog for the majority of the movie is done to an almost artful degree. You forget that not a single word has been spoken in over twenty just because you're so engrossed in the story and imagery. I don't need to recap it do I? A trashbot gets left behind on a eco-ravaged Earth and ends up becoming the dead planet's savior, you know, the usual. Throw in a hot, sleek 'bot from the future, and you're rockin'. There are so many good things to say about about this move I don't know where to start. The visuals were amazing, as usual for Pixar, as was the story. I think the commentary on human consumer culture was a tad heavy-handed, as was the eco-devastation of Earth, but whatever. The AI that controlled the human ship, Auto, had a very familiar red eye in its center, a well placed homage if I ever saw one, kudos to them, especially when he went to override human control of the ship. In fact, a lot of the space scenes came across very Kubrick-esque to me, and then they kicked in with the orchestral score and that sealed the deal. Overall, Wall·E was great; funny, beautiful, poignant, emotional; totally a solid film.

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