I have much less to say about 2008’s The Incredible Hulk movie than I had to say about 2003’s Hulk, because the film is much less ambitious. It’s a strange thing to say about a superhero movie, but it feels … conservative. Safe.
It’s not a bad film. Apart from making Betty Ross a cipher, a love interest and nothing more, it really doesn’t do anything wrong. It makes a series of competent steps from its premise — that Banner has been living with his condition for five years — to its conclusion. You can’t criticise any of them; but you can’t really get excited about them either.
My friend and colleague Matt Wedel is not a fan of the 2003 Hulk movie. In an email exchange back in 2008, he classified all the then extant superhero movies into four bins and concluded: “You won’t be surprised to hear that I put Ang Lee’s Hulk in the fourth bin”. I was interested earier today to re-read my own response:
I don’t think it belongs in any of those bins. It belongs in bin i, which is at right-angles to the real-integer bins you’ve designated here.
And I think that verdict stands up pretty well. Hulk is simply not trying to do the same thing as other superhero films, and it’s a mistake to judge it a failure on the basis that it doesn’t do what other superhero films do.
Back in March, I and my eldest son Dan both got Lepin STAR PLAN kits — from the same Lego-alike manufacturer that made my STAR WNRS Super Star Destroyer. I got a Tantive IV blockade runner, a kit I’d wanted for years but which Lego long ago stopped making.
Usually, I tend to fill most of my spare moments with work of one kind or another. But this weekend, exhausted, I made a policy decision to ignore the manuscript awaiting my peer-review, my own manuscript that’s awaiting revisions in response to others’ reviews, and the sermon series than I need to start preparing; and I watched four films instead. It was fun.
This looks like a Lego 10221 Super Star Destroyer, from the Ultimate Collector’s Series (UCS) Star Wars range.
But it’s not. It’s a Lepin 05028 Super Star Destroyer, from its Star Wnrs range — an original space-adventure series, like Ricky Rouse and Monald Muck. (Slightly closer to the camera, a third of the way back, is a Star Wnrs Imperial Star Destroyer, to the same scale.)
In deference to those who found it puzzling that The Last Jedi didn’t give us more on The Force Awakens‘ Big Bad, I concede that we’re entitled to wonder whether Snoke was a Sith, and if so, how he fits into the always-two-there-are model. One might profitably muse on whether Sith-ness is in fact constrained to the always-two-there-are model, or whether that was just a story Plagueis/Palpatine, Palpatine/Dooku, then Palpatine/Vader told to make themselves feel special.
What I don’t concede is that the film has to explore that. I rather think we’ll have more fun speculating on such things ourselves that we would get from being told the what The Answer is. Because whatever The Answer turns out to be, the only possible response will be “oh”.
With the whole family, I saw The Last Jedi at the one-minute-after-midnight showing on the day of release, at the wonderful Cinderford Palace Cinema (£2.50 on weekdays, £3.50 at weekends, snacks £1). I loved it and I’m keen to see it again. Almost everything I want to say about it, Matt Wedel has already said in his review over on Echo Station 5-7.
But there is one important thing that I’ve not seen mentioned anywhere yet: not in Matt’s review, or Matt Zoller Seitz’s review on the Roger Ebert site, nor in Mark Kermode’s in The Guardian.
WARNING: MANY SPOILERS.