Science Fiction, Double Feature

At 6:30 this morning I said good-bye to my wife, who is going to camp on Gibson island with her school until Wednesday. Herding 150 kids onto a ferry may seem like a daunting task, but I’ve seen her handle a room full of kids. After 5 years of performing what they call “classroom management”, she carries herself with confidence and authority in situations where most of us would be hesitating and later cowering in a corner pleading the children to leave us alone. Nonetheless, I will at the ready Wednesday night with Sara’s favorite magazine and ice cream.

As the day drew on I realized that if I had to contend with an empty house much longer, I would be fashioning a life sized replacement Sara out of throw pillows and misplaced cashews. So I opted for a movie night out. Science fiction double feature, as the old song goes. The features in question being Indiana Jones and the Incredible Hulk.

If you haven’t seen the new Indy movie yet, for God’s sake go. It’ a fun ride and if you have problems digesting the paranormal stuff, it’s important to note that this is the movie franchise that chased for and found a fully functional Ark of the covenant, Holy Grail and Indian Sankara stones. After studying the Hollywood development process and being part of a few other development processes myself, I think I’m way less nit-picky about movies. And it feels great. I had a lot of fun tonight. I didn’t exactly leave my brain in the parking lot, but I forgave a lot of the missteps I would’ve called out at a different time in my life. In summary it’s Indiana Jones movie. Go and have fun.

In between the two movies I noticed a couple of things. Namely a couple with a newborn. Walking into the Incredible Hulk. It was like I was in the middle of some sophomore comedian’s joke routine in between the sticky floors and the guy yammering on his cell phone. However, that baby stayed silent throughout the entire picture. Perhaps the bass of the movie has a soothing effect, I don’t know. But if I didn’t see the kid myself at the end of the movie, I would’ve thought that the stroller and bassinet were merely an ingenious snack smuggling system.

Anyway, about the Incredible Hulk. You know, the original movie seems to get worse every time I hear about it. It won’t be long before there’s an article about how the original Hulk was so bad that people emerged from the theatre with their eyes bleeding and screaming in tongues. I enjoyed the original, and no amount of pompous hipster bitching is going to change that. So quit it already.

That being said, this is the better film. It starts off with Bruce Banner on the run, just like in the TV series and the better part of the comic series. This movie has a better grip on what it is to be Banner and the Hulk. Edward Norton is perfectly cast. His loneliness is portrayed as genuinely heartbreaking. When he turns into the Hulk, the smashing is fun and perfectly satisfying. And then there’s the integration with the Marvel Universe at large. Captain America! The Avengers! Tony Stark! Oh my God! I’m geeking out to eleven!!

Okay it seems I have issues, and I’m not talking about Amazing Spiderman #563. But the truth is, I wonder why the idea of cross-overs wasn’t brought up sooner in the process, like right after X-men and Spider-man were verifiable hits. We now know that such cross-overs would make money no matter what the quality of the actual movie is. Aliens vs. Predator is a good case in point. However, a quick search reveals to us the tangled web (no pun intended) of movie rights attached to all of the major Marvel properties. Everything was held back by traditional corporate short-sightedness and the simple panicky nature of deals that are worth potential billions. Now, an Avengers movie would be a huge step forward, but I think a redefinition of the block-buster is in order, particularly for the digital age.

Imagine, if you will, a group of film school drop-outs who got sick of shooting dying flowers in time lapse and set out to re-engineer the summer blockbuster. Armed with the latest digital tools they are able to super-impose over reality with the skill of renaissance painters. Budgets are no problem when you can create whole cities within a computer the size of a large toaster. The scripts contain multi-layered story-lines that take trilogies to carry out, but the central conflicts are simple and read easy up on the screen. The actors are complete unknowns, but they have enough method training to meld completely into their blue-screen surroundings. The movies are distributed instantly over torrent networks at $10 a download. It’s played simultaneously in theaters in “road-show” style events, where the cast and crew can go on tour and meet their audience. Tickets to these shows are sold over social networking programs. With 200 of your closest friends, the premier suddenly becomes the event of the summer. Say, is anyone taking this down?