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Bob Kruger
Posted on Tuesday, July 08, 2003 - 11:36 pm:   

Lucius' newest movie review is up at

http://www.electricstory.com/reviews/hulk.asp

As usual, he outdoes the thumbs-up-for-hire crowd.

Bob K.
ElectricStory.com
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Rich Patterson
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 01:19 am:   

Bob,

I still can't think of one other great movie critic. OK, James Agee was on par with Lucius, but James won't be reviewing "The Hulk" any time soon.
Hats off to Mr. Shepard. Tell it like it is, brother.
Rich
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paulw
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 04:31 am:   

Lucius,

Thank you for being the only critic I've read on The Hulk to recognize that in fact his depiction in the movie is a triumph (unfortunately, the only triumph in the picture, aside from Lee's inventive and occasionally witty use of comic book visual narrative tropes [which are themselves derived from movies]). Granted, it may be necessary to have some experience of the comic in its glorious days of greatness to appreciate how fully Lee realized the Hulk of that other Lee and the late, great Kirby. I, too, was mesmerized by that entire desert-battle scene . . .

At other moments, I found myself thinking of the original King Kong, especially during the battle against the dogs in the woods . . . which was actually not one of the better scenes, alas.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 07:03 am:   

Rich, thanks for the kind words. As for James Agee, well, given the state of movies these days, maybe he's better off...Nah! I take that back. He was sure was good, though...
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 07:14 am:   

Hi, Paul....

Yeah, I could not believe that was the main quibble, that the Hulk was unreal. Sure, there were screw-ups here and there, but overall I thought he was outstanding. The dog scene was kind of a mess, though it was also kinda neat. Too much darkness and odd camera work (Look, there's a tree!) to make it a stand-out.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 07:47 am:   

I think part of the reason people bitch about the Hulk looking unreal are some comments made my ILM employees that the Hulk would look better than Gollum. When I heard that comment, then saw how the Hulk looked, I thought the ILM people were either blind or too full of themselves. Their comments set the expectations quite high. When they delivered something not up to those expectations, of course people will bitch.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 08:02 am:   

Robert, that statement may well have had something to do with it, and perhaps the mere existence of Gollum had something to do with the general perception; but for my part, I was pretty happy with the Big Green Guy. Like Paul said. he satisfied my Kirby jones...
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paulw
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 08:53 am:   

This misguided essay on the Hulk really annoyed me -- from the Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41399-2003Jun27.html
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M. Bishop
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 11:44 am:   

Okay, okay, but how did his pants manage to expand to the size of a Volkswagen without splitting?
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paulw
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 02:49 pm:   

Er . . . carbon nanotube fibers!
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 03:24 pm:   

Mike,

you would have preferred no pants? Me, I'm delighted to suspend disbelief in this regard. :-)

Lucius
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 03:28 pm:   

Paul,

I wonder if that Wash Post guy is Steven Hunter the thriller writer. Truthfully, I'm in accord with him as regards CGI -- I kinda wish it would go away most of the time, but I'm not as entirely negative as he is.
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ben peek
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 04:42 pm:   

hey lucius--

a nice review as always. i liked the comic panel formation used, though a friend of mine said it as just obvious and grated on him. i suppose i could see that, since it's just a matter of taste.

but like you, i kind of found everyone around the hulk to be, well, boring... (with the exception of nick nolte's deranged father, chewing on the scenery, or, in one case, a power cable).

but i noted that this is exactly the same problem i have with the hulk comic. every time i glance at it, or read a story, i'm always amazed at how boring everyone around the hulk is. it could be that i've not read enough (i missed everything but the end of peter david's run, for example, but i wasn't too interested in what he was doing there, either). but anyhow, the end result was that i didn't expect any of the characters to be interesting, or to say interesting things, and so i wasn't surprised.

not that they couldn't have changed this, mind.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2003 - 05:54 pm:   

Ben,
I haven't looked at the Hulk comic for ages, so I'm not sure I'm qualfied to comment on whether the characters were boring. I think the last issues I looked at had Barry Smith as the artist. But I had hoped for better from Ang Lee,
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 07:04 am:   

Lucius: I think you hit it pretty close to dead center on your viewing of The Hulk. I also thought that the Hulk figure in Lee's film was great at capturing the comic book images I remembered as a kid -- the way he skipped over the mountains, twirled the tanks and that scene with the jet. I'd actually give Lee high marks for that part of the movie. I also liked some of the split screen stuff. Bana, the guy who played the Hulk was an enormous stiff. Good god with all the good young actors out there, they had to pick that lame-o? The plot was basically a snooze-a-minute. But I loved Nolte in his incomprehensibleness. He was jibbering and blithering and when he turned into that electric fire monster deal at the end my eyes popped out but I had no idea what was going on. I also liked the X-men to an extent, but you just kind of know with these comic book movies when they are going to stink -- like Daredevil. I didn't have to see that one to know. If you like comics like I did and do -- when a kid, the Marvel and DC ones, and as an adult the underground or alternative stuff -- each one of these failures is a disappointment. I agree, Tim Burton's Batman sort of sets the gold standard along with another one I liked very much, Dark Man.

Whoever suggested Dead Man in the Dark Movie thread, thanks. I saw it last night and enjoyed it quite a bit.

Also, for movie kooks, I just got a hold of a copy of the Faber book Herzog on Herzog, and though it is not complete in the way scholars would like, as a fan, I'm digging it immensely.

Best,


Jeff
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John Klima
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 07:45 am:   

Speaking of the Hulk keeping his pants:

http://mirrors.meepzorp.com/thesun.co.uk/hulk-willy/

In general, like many of you, I'm very disappointed with comic-book-to-big-screen adaptations. I liked Burton's BATMAN, and enjoyed the BLADE films on a 'unplug your brain and watch the fast moving things' level, but that's about it. There's from what people said here that makes me want to see HULK, although I suspect I will watch it when it eventually finds its way to cable.

I keep getting X-MEN recommended to me, but I can't get excited about them. I'm worried about LXG, but I feel compelled to go see it. My wife just started reading the LEAGUE... comics, and to my surprise, she's enjoying them. (she does take embrage with Moore's portrayal of Mina, who my wife read as a strong woman with feminist thoughts and a willful mind, but definitely always feminine if that makes sense, as opposed to Moore's Mina who is bossy, bitchy, dykey, etc.)

Glad you liked DEAD MAN, Jeff.

JK
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Mastadge
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 07:56 am:   

DareDevil was a truly awful movie. Haven't seen Hulk. Haven't seen X-men 2, but the first one didn't impress me much. I'll probably see Hulk and X2 when my brother inevitably buys the DVDs.

I'm a fan of the '89 Batman and the first of the four Supermans.

I thought the Blade movies were quite awful.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 08:56 am:   

Jeff,

I'm not sure Bana's to blame. The painfully underplayed and slow delivery of his-and-Connelly's lines strikes me as a directorial choice. Bana was actually quite good in his debut film, CHOPPER, a bizarre little Aussie flick which is based on the puportedly autobiographical books of Mark "Chopper" Reade, an Aussie criminal of dubious achievement and vivid imagination. You might want to take a look--it's worth the ninety minutes.and may soothe you somewhat as regards Bana's abilities.

I had no real problem with Nolte -- I just thought his part was poorly written.

I think I may pick up that Herzog book. Sounds cool.

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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 09:03 am:   

Lucius: I'll give Bana another look. You might be right, as I have always liked Jennifer Connely, and she didn't do much for me in The Hulk either this time around. I'll keep an eye out for Chopper.

Best,


Jeff
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 09:03 am:   

JK,

I know a lot of people are going to like LXG, but I found it a mess and not a lot of fun for someone who enjoyed the comic. Mostly it struck me as a great argument for Sean Connery to fucking retire. Still, it's better than Daredevil. :-)

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paulw
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 09:05 am:   

I didn't think Bana was believable as "puny Banner" -- he was big, handsome, physically fit. He did remind me of Liam Neeson in Dark Man, however, at least physically -- in terms of acting ability, and script, Dark Man was infinitely superior.
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Mastadge
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 10:07 am:   

The previews for LXG look pretty awful. And I still think it should be LEG.
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 10:16 am:   

Lucius: I've heard the same about the League movie from quite a few people, but my sons and I have all read the comics and I don't think there is going to be any way to avoid it. Speaking of Connery, I just caught him yesterday on the tube in DePalma's Untouchables and I thought he was really great. I didn't care for the movie when I first saw it, and I like a lot of DePalma's stuff (Blow Out, especially but also Body Double and Casualties of War, etc), but it was pretty engaging this time around. Even Costner was palatable in it.

Best,


Jeff
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 11:06 am:   

Jeff,

I'm pretty sure the kids will like it -- it's kinetic and colorful. But I kept thinking about what might have been...and yuck. I've had a lot of fondness for Connery, but as an action hero, he throws the slowest right hand in the history of cinema. And do check out CHOPPER when you get a chance. Bana's better than he showed.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 11:11 am:   

Paul,

I guess I agree that Bana was too fit, but this is Hollywood, man, they're just not going to cast Paul Rueben or any other 97 pound weakling as Banner. The part was horribly written and -- I believe -- badly directed. In fact, so were all the parts. I recall seeing Cage and Shue in Leaving Las Vegas and thinking wow, these two actually can act a little. But since then, both Cage and Shue have been unrelentingly awful. That points up how important Mike Figgis was to those two performances in LLV. and I think you have to look at the way both Bana and Connelly underplayed and derive from that the idea that Lee was a lot to blame.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 11:14 am:   

Mastadge,

yeah, LEG would be right.

BTW, I like the first Superman, too.

Lucius
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ben peek
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 06:11 pm:   

lucius,

i thought cage was pretty good in ADAPTATION, which i also thought was a pretty good film.

as for comic films, i've got to admit, out of the recent ones, i enjoyed X2 a fair bit. not that it was perfect by any stretch, but it reminded me a lot of the comic, which i've read off and on for years. but my favourite comic turned movie remains THE CROW, which i remember cutting school to go and see in a cinema. everything crow related that they've done after has been truly awful, however.
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ben peek
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 06:15 pm:   

jeff,

i recommend CHOPPER too. it's really quite good. and if you enjoyed DEAD MAN, then i reckon you'd like GHOST DOG as well. it's a samuria turned gangster film that i like equally as much as DEAD MAN.

(er, this is assuming it's the jim jarmusch, johnny depp DEAD MAN.)
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 07:42 pm:   

Ben,

Yeah, I thought of the recent spate of comic films, X2 was okay, better than the first one. And I lked the Crow, to -- but then I was a big Bruce and Brandon Lee fan from their kung fu stuff. so I may be biased.

If you're planning on seeing LXG, all I can say is that I bet you have something better to spend your money. It;s messed up, although Sean Connery does a fair Sean Connery impression.
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Mastadge
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 08:09 pm:   

I thought about half of GHOST DOG was a very funny movie, and the other half was excruciatingly boring.

Forest Whitaker as a Samurai assassin was pretty interesting.
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 08:23 pm:   

Ben: Yes, it was the Depp, Jarmusch one.

Lucius: Leaving Las Vegas I thought was well acted, but it was such an unrelenting bummer, and I never really understood why I was supposed to give a shit about the Cage character. I wanted some background on him. I'm probably missing the whole point. Anyway, all I wanted to do after seeing it was get loaded.

Best,

Jeff
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Adam-Troy
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 08:56 pm:   

It is the same Stephen Hunter, btw. (My current favorite writer of kickass action thrillers.)

And I am not in accordance with him regarding CGI. It has to do with the fact that CGI requires the same visual flair you would need to use to film the same things with real actors. Think of how many films using real massed armies failed to impress, and how many others, using just as many extras in their crowd scenes, dazzled. Were the extras in the dull shots something other than real? Nope...but simply putting them there wasn't sufficient. Why am I impressed with the massive battle scenes in THE TWO TOWERS but unimpressed with battle scenes showing just as many animated characters in THE MUMMY RETURNS? Same problem, I think. You just can't get away from the fact that staging is everything, even if what you're staging is just pixilated smoke. ATC.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 09:20 pm:   

Jeff,

My point wasn't that the movie was that good, just that Cage and Shue, in my view, haven't been as good since...or before. Thus I credit Figgis with shaping those performances.
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 09:25 pm:   

Adam...

Yeah, Hunter's pretty cool. I agree with you that staging is everythig as regards CGI, it's just that there's so much more bad CGI than good...so I take Hunter's point as being a reaction to that fact.
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 09:38 pm:   

Lucius: Yeah, I knew where you were going. Cage, what has he made since? Con Air -- it doesn't get any worse than that. What was the one about the snuff film? That one stunk to high heaven and so did he in it. Wind Maker, the one about the Native american signal men? After the previous two mentioned, I couldn't get it up for any more Cage. I heard this new one Adaptation is good.

Best,


Jeff
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Lucius
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2003 - 10:09 pm:   

Jeff,

Con Air, Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Windtalker, City of Angels, 8 Millimeter...it's been a dark ride for Nick, I can't do ADAPTATION. It seemed absolutely sophomoric...like this guy Jones once brushed against an Albert Jarry play or something and it really had a bad effect. I thought Cage was horrid, and I even thought Chris Cooper, who's usually credible, was awful. One of the worst films I saw last year.

But there's two schools of thought.... :-)
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ben peek
Posted on Friday, July 11, 2003 - 12:00 am:   

lucius--

i already know i'm going to get sucked into seeing LXG. friends of mine are already saying 'ooh,' and while i'm not expecting much, the comic was a funky thing, and the script for the film is done by james robinson who wrote STARMAN and LEAVE IT TO CHANCE, and it's shaking that come and have a look thing in front of me, no matter what i hear. (i figure the final script probably wasn't more than thirty percent of robinson, but still.)

i even like connery, though the action man business has got to stop...
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ben peek
Posted on Friday, July 11, 2003 - 12:04 am:   

mastadge--

GHOST DOG has that scene with the boat, which i just love. actually, i really quite liked the whole relationship between the ice cream salesman and forrest's samuria/assassin.

still, different things for different folks. after all, i though ADAPTATION was great :-)
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Bob
Posted on Friday, July 11, 2003 - 03:49 am:   

GHOST DOG was pretty good, though for some reason I kept expecting it to break into 80's pop music and turn into THE LAST DRAGON. Don't know why that is.
What I really liked about GHOST DOG was their interpretion of zanshin, the Zen concept wherein a samurai lives with no expectation but death. Looked at from that angle, there could be no other ending but what was: Whitaker's execution at the hands of his "Lord"/Handler. Very few Western films can ever manage to translate a samurai's will to death, and I think that's reason enough to ignore some of the cheesier elements of the movie (Whitaker REALLY should have learned how to handle a katana before filming that scene of Kenjutsu katas on the rooftop).
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jeff ford
Posted on Friday, July 11, 2003 - 04:11 am:   

Lucius: Corelli's Mandolin and City of Angels, yikes amighty! I had successfully erased both of these from my memory. One stinking up my appreciation of the Wenders film from long ago and one just stinking.
Last night my kids and I watched From Dusk Till Dawn. That movie has some funny stuff in it.

And I have just had a big recommendation to see Whale Rider, has anyone seen it?

Best,

Jeff
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adam-troy
Posted on Friday, July 11, 2003 - 04:20 am:   

Best movie I've seen recently is the absolutely terrifying CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS.

Best summer-type movie was 28 DAYS LATER.

I don't think either one of them would pay for five minutes of HULK. ATC.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, July 11, 2003 - 06:31 am:   

ATC, Haven't seen FRIEDMANs. but it's on the list. 28 DAYS was cool, though I wanted it to be a little scarier -- but nice camera, good actors, turbo zombies. Hey, that's all good.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, July 11, 2003 - 06:35 am:   

Jeff,

I found Whale a real good kid's movie -- a great kid's movie, actually -- but way too message-y for my tastes. You don't need to bring your brain -- it'll do your thinking for you and I always find that annoying. But for the kids, man, it's a nice change from the usual....
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, July 11, 2003 - 06:40 am:   

Ben, all I can say is Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter There. Sean Connery's in Where's my check mode? And the rest is all but obscured by blow-up.

Saw an interesting preview for Mystic River attached -- that was the highlight.
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paulw
Posted on Friday, July 11, 2003 - 09:18 am:   

I was disappointed in 28 days. I loved the opening solo scenes of wandering through a deserted London; very eerie. After that, I thought the film had two halves: first was the remake of The Omega Man; second was a bizarre superhero movie featuring The Rape Avenger, in which a woman who had demonstrated combat chops and sangfroid was reduced to a helpless victim, and a man who had demonstrated zilch of either became Batman on steroids. Finally, it turned into that Dragon movie from last year . . .
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, July 11, 2003 - 12:28 pm:   

Paul,

My expectations were that 28 DAYS LATER would be a good B movie, and I thought it was. The first hour was definitely the best part, and I wished the ending had been different; but that said, it was a zombie movie -- how high could one's expectations of such be? Basically, you're hoping for a good formulaic piece with a touch of originality and some tension, and I thought that's what was delivered.
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paulw
Posted on Friday, July 11, 2003 - 12:49 pm:   

Lucius,

Well, the scaredest I got was near the start, when that damn car alarm went off -- bolted right out of my seat . . . very embarrassing!
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, July 11, 2003 - 01:11 pm:   

The tunnel scene was pretty great, the rats fleeing the infected...

I thought it built nicely for the first hour.

But, hey, it''s only a movie, huh?

Going to see SWIMMING POOL tomorrow night, I think.
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Nicholas Parisi
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 03:27 pm:   

Lucius:

Well, I'm jumping into the Hulk discussion pretty late, but I just read your review and I can't believe how uncannily you nailed my reaction to this film. When the moview was over I sat there thinking "they gave us 40 minutes of so-called character development, and I can't remember a single thing they talked about!" The only line I could even remember was Betty Ross's "I'm attracted to emotionally distant men," which seemed like a classic show-don't-tell mistake in itself.

What an absolute mess this movie was. It's funny, both Hulk and Matrix Reloaded got generally positive reviews from the more renowned critics. Yet both suffered from terrible word of mouth. When it happened with Matrix, I thought it was one of the first times where the critics liked a big budget sci-fi action movie more than the general public. It's usually the other way around - mainstream critics bash the big budget action movie, and the general public says "screw you, we like it anyway." In both these cases, the general public seemed to show a lot more sense than most critics.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, July 18, 2003 - 03:59 pm:   

Nicholas, I think the reason all those "more reknowned critics" like a lot of movies we don't is they get paid to like them. I used to hold to the idea that payola wasn't all that prevalent among movie critics, but when Elvis Mitchell described Burton's PLANET OF THE APES as
"a sparkling treat," I was forced to divest myself of this opinion. No one in their right mind could honestly so describe that movie. When the bigtime critics bash a big movie it's generall because the movie is so big, the producers have chosen not to buy reviews. Somethimes they make mistakes in judgment in this regard, but I am now persuaded that not even the dumbest Punh and Ebert could actually like all these technicolor stinkbombs.

Anyway, glad we're in accord on HULK
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Matthew
Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - 04:14 pm:   

Hey, I'm new here, but I'd thought that I'd share my opinion on comic book movies. The only comic adaption I really liked was Spiderman. One thing that I notice is that most of these movies are based on superhero comics, which, of course, make up the majority of comics, but there are popular non-superhero titles like Sandman and Fables. These aren't being rushed to adaption, simply because they don't have the name recognition outside of readers, kids who don't read comics won't know them (both are part of the Vertigo imprint which is aim at people 20 and up) and old folks who don't read comics anymore want have any nostalgic desire to see it.
The other things is that the movies have, generally, been less sophisticated. To a certain degree, this shows how comics have risen artistically, but, much more so, how much cinema has sunk. I mean the vast majority of comics cannot be consider high literature, or for that matter there is little solid low art, but there are comics that if not sophisticated are legitmentally enjoyable, and there are a few like Sandman that are high art.
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Adam-troy
Posted on Friday, August 22, 2003 - 04:42 am:   

Well, there is Harvey Pekar, of course. His one is supposed to be good.

I find myself looking forward to KILL BILL despite myself...

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