The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Iron Man vrs. The Hulk

I got the manuscript for SHADOW VALLEY last night. Woof. Now THERE'S a project long in the gestating. I reach a point in my writing where I can't evaluate the quality of the work, and I'm there. Thank God I trust Betsy Mitchell, who has been a wonderful advocate from the start.

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Watched an image of two eighty-year-old lesbians who have been together fifty years, finally kissing as a married couple. I am so proud of my state. I hope no one makes this a wedge issue. Increasing the net amount of love in the world is always a good thing.

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My Father's Day present was the new collection of Dirty Harry movies. Man, I love 'em. My favorite is probably "Sudden Impact" (even some bad acting doesn't stop this from being one of the most off-the-wall and over-the-top action movies ever. Eastwood kills about seven people in the first ten minutes, and it never really slows down. The chase with the tour bus from the retirement home is a stitch. And, of course, "Go ahead. Make my day." Delivered by a disgusted, burned-out Harry who has just watched his case go up in smoke because of a technicality, this line, said to a thug with a gun to a woman's head, is about as close to a perfect line of movie dialog as you're gonna get. The scary thing is that you know there's a part of Harry that means it. And another part that is bluffing. And the third part, the really nasty part, is that the line also speaks to the audience's sick hunger to see something cathartically violent. Oooh. Makes me feel like a dirty boy.

Love it.

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No, "The Incredible Hulk" wasn't as good as Iron Man. But it was good. But why not AS good? Hmmm.

1) Ed Norton was good as Bruce Banner, but Robert Downy Jr was PERFECT as the dissipated Tony Stark. His use of body language was superlative.

2) The script was just flat better. When Gwenyth Paltrow delivers her put-down line "I do everything that Mr. Stark requires. Including, from time to time, taking out the trash." I almost wet myself. Damn, that sounded like a line from a 1930's screwball comedy. Instantly, I grasped that this was going to be different.

3) Gwenyth Paltrow is a better actress than Liv Tyler. Sorry. This gave the scenes with Downy a quality I have never seen in a comic book movie. There was human yearning played with amazing delicacy. In "Hulk" Norton sells Banner's anguish, but never connects with Tyler as deeply, even though they are supposedly old sweethearts, rather than boss-and-assistant performing a mating dance with all the hope and fear of epileptic porcupines.

4) The SFX work better in IRON MAN. Not that they are, technically, any better, But it is harder to create a living thing than a machine. As a result, you never knew with the Stan Winston practical effect was in use, or the ILM CGI. Cool. Never for an instant did I ever think I was looking at an actual animal in HULK. At it's best, I was digging it as if it was an elaborate all-CGI film, like NINJA TURTLES or something. And that was great. But I could never surrender and remotely believe this was happening in our world.

5 comments:

lynn said...

Steven,
(sorry, off topic) I'm in the middle of Saturn's Race. It's unputdownable.

Philip Shropshire said...

I haven't seen the Hulk yet, but yeah Liv Tyler isn't much of an actress. Am I the only one who didn't hate the first Hulk film? I thought that was a pretty decent movie...

But the real reason I'm chiming in is that I know that you and your rich Hollywood Friends or friend (Blair Underwood) are probably always on the lookout for new comic book properties. If so, I highly recommend Warren Ellis' "Black Summer". It's a bit political and might take some Passion of the Christ courage to do, but it would make one Helluva movie. You could cast Blair as Tom Noir. Have you had a chance to read Black Summer...?

Sincerely,

Philip Shropshire
www.threeriversonline.com

PS: You might also want to inquire into three Alan Moore properties: Tom Strong, Promethea and Top TEN. I guess it would be nice if there was a Spiderman-like franchise in capable black hands...it's not like 50 cent has the imagination to do it...

Anonymous said...

The Super Attack Poodles were the best thing in the Hulk! Would that I had seen Liv getting some epileptic porcupine lovin' too.

Steven Barnes said...

Never seen "Black Summer." Keep my eyes open for it..

Steven Barnes said...

Liv may not be much of an actress, but she has the cutest overbite in Hollywood.