Sunday, May 4, 2008


ITEM! Here’s the latest low-down on Mighty Marvel’s second-most eagerly anticipated summer movie: The Incredible Hulk! As you all probably know by now, the latest trailer is out, and the studio suits are plenty worried. Viewer reaction has not been as ardently and anxiously anticipatory as they were with Iron Man just a few months ago. And no one can seem to understand the problem. Great stars + great director + “TV Show Lonely Man Theme” should = Great Movie, right Tiger? So what’s the problem?

Your Uncle Stanley thinks he knows... and I’ve tried to tell ‘em, bless their little studio exec simulated mechanical hearts, but who listens to me? I’m just some 85-year-old Triassic fossil who only happened to co-create the entire Marvel Universe... whatta I know? The tragic part is, Hulk director “King Louis the XVIII” Leterrier also knows exactly what the prob is. He knew what the biggest problem was with the last Hulk movie and tried to fix it in this one. But the suits wouldn’t listen. Lefty-Louis hated (and when I say hated I mean hated in the same way the French hate anti-perspirants) the CGI effects in the first Hulk movie. He wanted to do as much of the new Hulk movie with actors, prosthetics and animatronics as prudently possible, and the studio suits wouldn’t let him.

You see Louis understands the dirty little secret of ILM and other CGI effects houses. None of ‘em have yet fully-conquered the “uncanny valley.” What in the name of Aunt May’s Depends is the uncanny valley? It’s a term coined by Japanese roboticists to account for the inexplicable revulsion humans instinctively have towards robots that are given appearances too close (but-not-quite-close-enough) to humans. It’s a trick of human perception. Suddenly your brain stops judging the subject as a simulation doing a good job of being human and starts looking at it as a human doing a terrible job of being human. Kinda like the difference between a SHIELD Life Decoy Model and a Doom-Bot. One just walks down the street and takes a bullet for you, the other is trying to simulate the egomania of the ruler of Latveria.

So back to CGI effects. It’s one thing to motion-capture Robert Downey Jr. and computer simulate a guy running around in a suit of power-armor. It’s another entirely to computer generate a convincing giant jade juggernaut who’s basically only a very large human being. Effects house Rhythm & Hues has probably spent enough money to build their own private helicarrier to make their CGI Hulk even more human than the last movie. And all that sweat and toil has gotten them... almost nothing. More detail, sure... different shade of green, check... but your brain still goes “nope... not buyin’ it!” Your Uncle Stanley personally thinks they woulda been much better off Frankensteining the new Hulk up Kirby-style. The more monstrous the better. Big, heavy brows and so on. That’s what Louis wanted to do anyway. My humble heart goes out to yah, Lou. The Hollywood suits never listen to true genius, do they? And speaking of the Abomination... who sez an audience wouldn't buy great big finned ears on a CGI character?


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