(Originally posted at Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat.)
Here’s what my Geek Intake Valve has been processing lately.
Daredevil: Liked it better than Spider-Man. There was just something kind of clunky and arbitrary about the way Spider-Man’s plot moved forward. Daredevil, on the other hand, had this weird emotional-turmoil operatic logic for its structure, and damn if it didn’t work like a charm. Like an opera, you don’t see a movie like Daredevil for the realism–you see it for the spectacle, for the emotional immediacy, for the out-of-their-heads-with-anger-and-grief characters, and for the singing, or in this case the fight scenes. The fight scenes serve the same purpose as the singing, of course–as a grandiose, artistic metaphor for the heightened emotional states of the characters. This was something that Daredevil understood quite well, as did Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (I think I stole that notion from someone, so my apologies to that person) and the Daredevil comic storylines from which the film borrowed the most heavily, Frank Miller’s Elektra saga and (with John Romita Jr.) The Man Without Fear, and (especially) David Mack’s Parts of a Hole. (Mack’s femme fatale, Echo, basically had her backstory grafted onto Elektra’s for the film’s version of the latter character.)
Three final thoughts:
1) Wasn’t nuts about the decision to make Daredevil a killer at first, but they made this decision with an eventual redemption in mind, and (again, to my surprise) it worked.
2) Someone somewhere (once again) pointed out that DD’s alter ego, lawyer Matt Murdock, magically switches from some sort of bizarre private criminal prosecutor (it seems clear we’re not in civil court) to a defense attorney. Arrgh. Didn’t anyone read that part of the script?
3) Did Jon Favreau write his own lines?
The Hulk: God, what a strange, strange, strange film. I think it was a failure, but a noble failure. In a way, what with the expressionistic comics-influenced framing techniques and the emphasis on extradiegetic colors and imagery (all those desert shrubs and rocks and all those cell cultures and microbes), it was like Ang Lee doing King Kong by way of Douglas Sirk. But it was slow, so very slow, and none of the characters were three-dimensional or likeable enough to warrant taking that slow ride with them. Eric Bana, the lead, has soulful eyes that generate sympathy, at least, but he’s so underwritten that it never graduates to empathy. The bulk of The Hulk (nyuk nyuk) seems dedicated to conversations between different pairs of people about how impotent they are to fix whatever it is they’re talking about–this does not a riveting drama make. But when Bana Hulks out, the film comes alive. The big fight scenes were uniformly tremendous, and if you don’t laugh out loud when the Hulk beats one tank with another tank’s gun turret, Mister, you’re a glummer man than I. If as much time had been spent on developing the characters into likeable people as was devoted to creating beautiful imagery, innovatively using comics-style panels as shot-to-shot transitions, and making kick-ass CGI sequences, you’d have had a hell of a film.
Two final thoughts:
1) I didn’t like director Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon the first time I saw it either, so maybe this film will grow on me as that one did.
2) Whoever thought this difficult, difficult movie was going to make Spider-Man style bank was probably literally on crack.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Certainly the best of the series thus far. Rowling does “unfair” better than anyone else I can think of. I think the success of the series directly stems from the way she is able to convey the capricious, arbitrary, vindictive exercise of power by adults and bullies over children, something to which all children can relate. And I think what makes the books so quickly-readable is that readers want to plow through the unfairness until they get to the point where the unfairness is exposed and Harry is vindicated.
Two minor gripes about the ending (SPOILER ALERT!!! gosh, that was fun to write):
1) Gee, you mean Harry and Voldemort’s destinies are inextricably linked, and one day they’ll have a duel to the death? Get out of here! I had no idea!!! Seriously, that was the big secret? Talk about a lousy payoff.
2) The last chapter, as I noticed when I first read the Table of Contents, is called “The Second War Begins.” Uh, really? Looked to me like Harry got on a train and went home, just like he did in the last four books. If you’re going to title a chapter “The Second War Begins,” how ’bout, I dunno, beginning the Second War in it?
Sean T. Collins will soon be getting a Tolkien tattoo on his left arm to match the Rebel Alliance insignia on his right. He blogs at Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat, where this post originally appeared.