Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK SMASHES THE PUNY PARADIGMS OF FILM CRITICISM WITH HULK-SIZED SEMIOTICAL ESSAYS ON STORYTELLING, CINEMATIC PRINCIPLES, AND MEDIA THEORY! HULK EVEN MAKE PRACTICAL HOW-TO GUIDES! See More...

Film Crit Hulk Smash: Why Reviews Are Weird And How You Can Best Enjoy IRON MAN 3

Hulk non-reviews Marvel's latest.

Film Crit Hulk Smash: Why Reviews Are Weird And How You Can Best Enjoy IRON MAN 3

REVIEWS ARE FUCKING WEIRD.

NO ONE REALLY TALKS ABOUT IT, BUT THERE IS SOMETHING SO INHERENTLY WRONG WITH THEM. IT'S NOT JUST THE OBVIOUS THINGS, LIKE THE FACT THEY ARE SO OFTEN THEY ARE FILLED WITH THE WRONG KINDS OF INFORMATION TO GIVE BEFOREHAND AND MISSING THE INSIGHTS THAT WOULD TOTALLY BE MOST HELPFUL. THE REAL PROBLEM IS THAT THEY ARE A CONVERSATION OF EVALUATION WHEN THE READER IS AT A DISTINCT DISADVANTAGE. I.E. THEY HAVEN'T SEEN THE DAMN MOVIE. THIS REQUIRES THAT THE AUTHOR HAS TO DANCE AROUND THE SUBJECT ITSELF AND THUS TURNS THE WHOLE THING INTO NOTHING MORE THAN A HOLLOW GAME OF INNUENDO. WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT, WRITING A REVIEW BASICALLY REQUIRES THAT THE AUTHOR:

1) HAS TO LIE OR PURPOSELY OBFUSCATE.

2) DE-DRAMATIZE THE NARRATIVE BY PUTTING IT ALL IN THE FORM OF DREARY EXPLANATION, NOT JUST IN TERMS OF PLOT BUT ITS TRIUMPHANT CHARACTERISTICS.

HECK, EVEN SAYING THE WORD "TWIST" SETS UP A DRAMATIC EXPECTATION THAT RENDERS THE AFFECTATION OF SURPRISE MEANINGLESS. YOU DON'T TELL SOMEONE THERE'S GOING TO BE A SURPRISE PARTY REGARDLESS IF YOU LEAVE OUT THE SPECIFICS. AND THIS WHOLE ONE-SIDED CONVERSATION THING IS NOT JUST ABOUT MODERN SPOILER-PHOBIA, BUT OFTEN REFLECTS A COMPLETE MISUNDERSTANDING THAT, AS A CRITIC, YOU JUST EXPERIENCE MOVIES IN A RADICALLY DIFFERENT CONTEXT FROM THOSE WHO READ YOUR REVIEWS. PUT IT LIKE THIS: WHAT YOU DISCOVER IN TERMS OF DRAMA, YOU THEN INSTRUCT TO THE READER IN TERMS OF THE WRITTEN WORD AND CONCLUSION PRE-DESTINATION. IT'S THE VERY REASON WHY HULK RARELY GOES TO CRITIC SCREENINGS. AFTER ALL, HAVING SEEN A MOVIE BEFORE SOMEONE ELSE MAKES THE REAL CONVERSATION THAT YOU WANT TO HAVE IMPOSSIBLE. WHICH JUST MEANS THAT DEVIN WAS ALL THE MORE RIGHT TO MAKE HIS REVIEW OF IRON-MAN 3 A SPOILER-FILLED ONE (AND IT'S SPOT-ON BY THE WAY). HECK, NINE TIMES OUT OF TEN, THE BEST WAY TO REVIEW A FILM BEFORE SOMEONE HAS SEEN IT WOULD BE TO JUST SAY A SINGLE SENTENCE OF RECOMMENDATION. THIS ISN'T A HALF-HEARTED STANCE EITHER. HULK REALLY BELIEVES THAT REVIEWS ARE SOMETHING THAT SHOULDN'T EXIST IN THE WAY THAT THEY DO NOW.

MAYBE WE'RE JUST USED TO THEM AND SO WE THINK THAT'S HOW IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE? HULK DOESN'T KNOW. THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IS THAT HULK FINDS THAT WHETHER AN AUDIENCE REALLY KNOWS IT OR NOT, MOST PEOPLE LIKE GOING INTO MOVIES BLIND. THE CONFUSION LIKELY COMES FROM THE FACT THAT FOR MOST, THE DESIRE FOR A REVIEW, CONTEXT, TRAILER, ETC. IS MERELY A PLACATION FOR WANTING THE EXPERIENCE ITSELF, AND SO THEY CAN'T HELP THEMSELVES. WHICH MEANS THAT MOST PEOPLE WHO READ REVIEWS ARE FILLED WITH THE FEELING OF ANTI-CLIMAX THE MOMENT THEY FINISH THEY FINISH THEM (MAYBE EVEN REGRET). BUT IT STILL, IT'S AN INGRATIATED PART OF THE MARKETING MACHINE AT THIS POINT SO HULK'S NOT SURE IT'S GOING ANYWHERE.

ESPECIALLY GIVEN THE FACT THAT HULK FULLY UNDERSTANDS THE FINANCIAL COSTS OF MOVIE-GOING MEANS THAT REVIEWS ARE ESSENTIALLY MORE OF A BUYING GUIDE. BUT EVEN THOUGH IT IS PROBABLY NECESSARY IN THIS CONTEXT, HULK STILL STANDS BY THIS GOING-IN-BLIND ARGUMENT. FOR ONE, HULK CAN'T TELL YOU HOW MUCH HULK LOVES JUST WALKING INTO FESTIVALS AND NOT KNOWING A SINGLE THING ABOUT THE MOVIE HULK IS ABOUT TO SEE (OFTEN JUST THE TITLE). FIRST ACTS SUDDENLY FEEL LIKE JOYFUL DISCOVERY INSTEAD OF RE-HASHINGS OF THAT WHICH WE ALREADY KNOW. GOING IN BLIND IS THE PUREST FORM OF MOVIE WATCHING. AND BECAUSE OF ALL THIS SENTIMENT, YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED THAT HULK RARELY WRITES ACTUAL "REVIEWS." HULK DOESN'T WANT TO DANCE AROUND THE REAL CONVERSATION. AND IT'S THE MAIN REASON A LOT OF HULK'S ESSAYS ON BIG MOVIES COME OUT A WEEK OR TWO AFTER. THE READER SHOULDN'T BE AT A DISADVANTAGE. BUT HULK IS ALSO IN A PLACE OF IMMENSE LUXURY HERE AT BADASS, IN THAT HULK DOESN'T HAVE TO COVER MOVIES LIKE THAT.

IN HULK'S IDEAL VIEW,  A REVIEW SHOULD ONLY OFFER THE THINGS THAT WILL BEST HELP A PROSPECTIVE AUDIENCE MEMBER WATCH AND ENJOY THE MOVIE. YOU ARE ONLY THERE TO HELP. AND IN HULK'S MIND, IF THE READER HAS NOT SEEN THE MOVIE YET THAT MEANS NOT MENTIONING THE PLOT WHATSOEVER OR EVEN REALLY EVALUATING THE MOVIE BEYOND SIMPLE RECOMMENDATION. INSTEAD, THE REAL DETAILS GIVEN SHOULD ONLY ABOUT PUTTING THE READER IN THE FRAME OF MIND TO BEST ENJOY. AND SOMETIMES THAT MEANS THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO FOR THEIR ENJOYMENT IS GIVE A SENSE OF CONCEPTUAL UNDERSTANDING TO THE MECHANISMS BEHIND THE MOVIE.

SO, LET'S TRY IT HERE... HULK REALLY LIKED IRON MAN 3. A FEW IN THE MINORITY HAVE NOT. WHY? WHAT ARE THEIR REASONS? ARE THEY VALID? WELL SURE, BUT HULK THINKS HULK CAN OFFER A GOOD EXPLANATION ON HOW TO CONTEXTUALIZE THE WAY THE MOVIE IS PLOTTED ON A VAGUE STRUCTURAL LEVEL AND HOW IT AFFECTS OUR VIEWING.

MOST SUMMER MOVIES WORK VISCERALLY. IT'S ABOUT THRILLS. DRAMA. CHASES. LAUGHS. ALL THAT GREAT STUFF THAT MAKES POPCORN MOVIES SO FUN AND UNIVERSAL (AND TO MAKE THEM WELL ACTUALLY REQUIRES A REMARKABLE SENSE OF CRAFT AND UNDERSTANDING OF TRADITIONAL STORYTELLING). POPCORN MOVIES FUNCTION BEST WITH WHAT WE CALL A, B, C TRANSITIONAL FILMMAKING. A IS HAPPENING. THEREFORE B HAPPENS. BUT C HAPPENS, THEREFORE D HAPPENS. AND SHARP TRANSITIONS THAT MAKE ALL OF THOSE EVENTS FLOW INTO EACH OTHER. THAT KIND OF THING. THERE IS VERY LITTLE FEELING OF "AND THEN THIS HAPPENS!" THIS KIND OF STORYTELLING IS HIGHLY EFFECTIVE BECAUSE IT KEEPS THE AUDIENCE INTERESTED IN WHAT IS GOING ON IN THAT EXACT MOMENT. THEY UNDERSTAND WHAT EVERYONE WANTS. THEY UNDERSTAND WHAT EACH CHARACTER NEEDS IN THAT SCENE. THEY UNDERSTAND WHERE THEY ARE GOING AND WHY. THIS UNDERSTANDING THE POINTS OF THE ACTION, THE PURPOSE AND THE DRAMA. IT MAKES A MOVIE FEEL PROPULSIVE. AND THAT IS INVALUABLE.

SHANE BLACK DOES NOT DO THIS.

AND HE NEVER HAS. BLACK CONSTRUCTS HIS MOVIES WITH A SERIES OF TANGENTS, AND THE REASON THEY STILL WORK SO WELL IS THOSE TANGENTS ZING, ZANG AND ZOOM ABOUT THE MOVIE AT BREAKNECK SPEED. IT OFTEN MOVES TOO QUICK TO REALIZE WHAT YOU'RE IN FOR. HE DOESN'T TELEGRAPH IT. HE MAKES IT HARD TO SEE THE SEAMS. WATCH HIS MASTERPIECE KISS KISS BANG BANG AND KEEP TRACK OF HOW THE PLOT EVOLVES AS A CONSTANT SURPRISE AND RE-USE OF PAST INFORMATION. IT'S A WHOLE DIFFERENT KIND OF FILMMAKING AND IT'S JUST AS VALID IF YOU CAN PULL IT OFF.

AND IRON MAN 3 IS CONSTRUCTED IN THE EXACT SAME WAY... THE ONLY PROBLEM IS THAT, AS A BIG SUPERHERO MARVEL MOVIE WITH BIG SET-PIECES AND CERTAIN COMIC-BOOK-Y REQUIREMENTS, IT INHERENTLY HAS TO DO SOME THINGS THAT GET IN THE WAY OF ALL THAT. IT LETS SCENES STEW FOR A BIT, WHICH MEANS THE FILM INHERENTLY HAS SOME BLOAT. YES, EVERYTHING WILL COME BACK INTO PLAY IN TERMS OF PLOT-CONSTRUCTION AND ALL THAT... BUT IT OFTEN FEELS LIKE WHEEL SPINNING. WHICH IS USUALLY THE KISS OF DEATH FOR SUMMER MOVIES.  IT MAKES THEM FEEL TREMENDOUSLY UN-ENGAGING AND LACKING MOMENTARY PURPOSE (SEE TRANSFORMERS MOVIES). WHAT MAKES THE WHEEL SPINNING WORK HERE HOWEVER IS THAT BLACK AND RDJ ARE GIVING US SOME TREMENDOUSLY FUNNY AND ENTERTAINING STUFF ALONG THE WAY. BETTER YET, IT'S STUFF THAT WILL EVENTUALLY COME TO FRUITION IN MEANINGFUL WAYS - WE JUST HAVE TO HAVE A LITTLE TRUST. AND BEST YET, BY TAKING ITS TIME, IT'S ALLOWING THE ETHOS OF ALL THE CHARACTERS TO PROPERLY STEW AND GET THEIR HOOKS INTO YOU. MEANING IT IS A DETRIMENT THAT IS ACTUALLY ALLOWING FOR A NET GAIN (SOMETHING NOT TALKED ENOUGH ABOUT IN EVALUATIVE CRITICISM).

THE END RESULT IS A MOVIE THAT SOMETIMES FEELS UNWIELDY, BUT IS SECRETLY NOT. IT'S WORKING TO THE SAME HIGHER PURPOSES AS ALL OF HIS MOVIES, IT JUST CAN'T PUT THE IRON MAN BRITCHES INTO THE BREAKNECK TANGENTIAL PACE THAT'S USUALLY BEST FOR HIS WORK. BUT IT STILL ABSOLUTELY CAPTURES THE SPIRIT OF THAT KIND OF FILMMAKING.

AND IF YOU CAN UNDERSTAND THAT, YOU'LL REALLY ENJOY "IRON MAN THREE."

HULK HOPES YOU ENJOYED THIS NON-REVIEW.

<3 HULK

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
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