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: HULK VS. MICHAEL BAY

Alternative title: THINGS THAT LITERALLY HAPPENED WHILE HULK WATCHED TRANS4MERS.

Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK VS. MICHAEL BAY

SO THERE'S THIS PART IN TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION WHERE THE AUTOBOTS SUDDENLY ENCOUNTER A SUPER-LITERAL VAGINA DENTATA ALIEN THAT'S JUST HANGING OUT IN A CAGE. THERE'S NO REASON FOR THIS TO BE HAPPENING ON ANY LEVEL, IT'S JUST CLEARLY STUCK IN FOR SOME MOTIVATIONAL REASON. BUT PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT THE REVEAL OF THE ALIEN'S VAGINA DENTATA-NESS IS NOT SOME PLACID CINEMATIC MOMENT BUT INSTEAD HIGHLY EMPHASIZED. THIS IS CLEAR. THIS IS OVERT. SO THEN THE FAT AUTOBOT (ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS, BY THE WAY) IS SO REVOLTED BY THIS IMAGE THAT IT TELLS THIS WAY-TOO-CLEAR-VAGINA-SYMBOL THAT IT IS "TOO UGLY TO LIVE." THEN THE VAGINA GETS SOME SLIME ON HIM AND THE FAT AUTOBOT COLLAPSES TO THE GROUND AND THINKS HE'S "BURNING." BUT THEN THE FAT AUTOBOT JUST REALIZES IT'S JUST "SHIZZ." SO HE CALLS THE VAGINA-SYMBOL "BITCH" AND SHOOTS HER DEAD.

THIS LITERALLY HAPPENED.

THIS LITERALLY HAPPENED IN A MOVIE THAT IS OSTENSIBLY AIMED AT YOUNG KIDS AND POSTURING THE HEROISM OF GOOD GUYS.

HULK SAT IN THAT THEATER AND JUST KEPT THINKING ABOUT THE MOMENT OVER AND OVER AGAIN: HOW DOES SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPEN? AN AUTOBOT JUST KILLED A CAGED VAGINA FOR BEING THAT VERY THING. HOW DOES A STUDIO FILM PRODUCE A MOMENT LIKE THIS? IT'S NOT LIKE THIS IS A VACUUM. THERE WAS LIKELY AN ENTIRE TEAM OF PEOPLE WHO PROBABLY SPENT A WHOLE MONTH ANIMATING THAT SCENE, RIGHT? IT'S NOT LIKE IT'S JUST MICHAEL BAY'S SCRAWLED, INEPT FAN FICTION, WHEREIN ALL HIS PSYCHO-SEXUAL ISSUES COME TO THE FOREFRONT WITHOUT A FILTER... BUT THE TRUTH IS THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT THIS IS LIKE. AND EITHER NO ONE NOTICED, OR NO ONE SPOKE UP, OR IF THEY DID SPEAK UP THEY WERE SIMPLY OVERRULED. THIS WENT THROUGH EVERY LEVEL. AND THUS WE ARE PRIVY TO A SUPER ON-THE-NOSE SCENE WHERE YOU CAN PEAK INTO MICHAEL BAY'S OH-SO-LITERAL FEAR OF VAGINAS.

THIS HAPPENED.

BUT THIS ALWAYS HAPPENS. EVERY TIME HULK SEES A MICHAEL BAY MOVIE HULK IS REMINDED THAT HE DOES THESE KINDS OF THINGS. WHICH, PERHAPS IN A SAD WAY, CONSTANTLY REMINDS HULK THAT HE IS ONE OF THE MOST WEIRDLY FASCINATING FILMMAKERS ON THE PLANET. PLEASE DON'T MISTAKE THAT FOR A STATEMENT IMPLYING HIS FILMS ARE WORTH SEEING OR ARE ACTIVELY FASCINATING TO WATCH. NO, THEY ARE OVERLONG, BORING SLOGFESTS THAT SPEW SO MUCH HATEFUL, SEXIST, HOMOPHOBIC AND RACIST GARBAGE ALL UNDER THE PRETENSE OF THAT WINKING "THIS IS THE WAY IT SHOULD BE" BRAND OF HUMOR THAT MAKES YOU WANT TO GO OUT INTO THE LOBBY AND RECONCILE YOUR HUMANITY FOR A WHILE. WHICH JUST MAKES THE IDEA THAT HE'S INSANELY POPULAR ALL THE MORE TROUBLING. BUT YEAH, AFTER YOU COMB THROUGH THE DRUDGERY OF THE EXPERIENCE AND ITS POPULAR RECEPTION, ONE THAT IS PROBABLY AS CLOSE AS YOU CAN COME TO STARING INTO THE VOID, THEN YOU CAN ACTUALLY STAND BACK AND CALMLY APPRAISE THE WAYS HIS SOCIOPATHIC VIEW OF THE UNIVERSE MANIFESTS ON SCREEN.

NOW, OFTEN PEOPLE ALSO HAVE TROUBLE WITH HULK'S CHARACTERIZATION OF BAY'S SOCIOPATHY BECAUSE IT SEAMS LIKE AN EXTREME THING TO SAY. AND IT PROBABLY IS. BUT HULK IS NOT USING THE WORD AS A DIRECT SYNONYM OF PSYCHOPATHY. INSTEAD, HULK MEANS IT IN THE MORE MILD AND VAGUELY CLINICAL WAY OF BEING PSYCHOLOGICALLY "WITHOUT PATH." WHICH JUST MEANS SOMEONE WHO DOESN'T QUITE RELATE TO PEOPLE THROUGH AN EMPATHETIC UNDERSTANDING OF HUMANITY, BUT INSTEAD THROUGH A KIND OF DETACHED, ASSUMPTIVE AND LOGICAL WAY. IT'S MORE KIND OF A: OH THIS IS WHAT YOU LIKE? OH THIS WHAT YOU WANT ME TO BE DOING? OKAY HUMANS, I WILL DO THAT! YOU MAY WONDER WHY HULK IS SO QUICK TO ASSIGN THIS CHARACTERIZATION TO MICHAEL BAY - GIVEN THAT THIS MIGHT SEEM LIKE AN OBVIOUS BREACH OF THE SOCIAL CONTRACT IN WHICH WE SHOULDN'T BE READING SO MUCH INTO AUTHORS - BUT, QUITE FRANKLY, HULK CAN'T SIT ON THAT RATIONALE ANYMORE. IT'S THE THING WE USE IN GIVING SOMEONE THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT AND UNDERSTANDING THAT OUR OPINIONS ARE INHERENTLY LIMITED AND SOMEWHAT INACCURATE. BUT THERE IS SUCH A THING AS TAKING THAT SAME BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT AND USING IT AS ARMOR TO BE ABUSIVE. IT'S LIKE TAKING FREE SPEECH AS AN EXCUSE TO RUN AROUND AND CUSS OUT RANDOM CHILDREN. THAT'S NOT WHAT THE GUIDELINE / RULE IS BUILT FOR.

SO SORRY, NOT SORRY, BUT AT THIS POINT WE HAVE ENOUGH EVIDENCE OF WHO MICHAEL BAY "IS" IN A CINEMATIC SENSE FOR THIS TO BE A COMPLETELY FAIR SEMIOTIC INTERPRETATION OF HIS "BELIEFS": ESPECIALLY AFTER A MOVIE LIKE TRANS4MERS THAT SUBJECTS US TO SUCH STAGGERING STEALTH (AND NOT SO STEALTH) IMMORALITY IN THE NAME OF DOWN-HOME ROOTABILITY. AND AGAIN, BAY'S EXHIBITED MILDLY SOCIOPATHIC BEHAVIOR THROUGH EVERYTHING HE'S EVER DONE, FROM EVERY QUOTE, TO EVERY REAL LIFE STORY, TO EVERY GOSSIPY ANECDOTE, TO EVERY FILM, AND EVEN RIGHT DOWN TO LEGITIMATELY POSITIVE QUALITIES LIKE HIS NOTED LOVE OF ANIMALS (AND DON'T GET HULK WRONG - HIS CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTIONS IN THIS REGARD ARE AMAZING - BUT GO BACK TO TONY SOPRANO AND THE DUCKS). IT'S TEXTBOOK. AND THROUGH VIRTUALLY EVERY SINGLE THING THAT HE DOES, HE REEKS OF THE NEEDED SENSE OF GUILES. EVERY FILM ERUPTS ONTO THE SCREEN WITH A CONSTANT, OVERT FIGURATIVE TURNING TO THE AUDIENCE WITH A "YOU THINK THIS IS COOL, RIGHT?" AND WHEN YOU COUPLE THIS WITH THE ENDLESS PSYCHO-SEXUAL ISSUES YOU HAVE THE RECIPE FOR ALL OF THIS TO BE WRITTEN PRETTY CLEARLY. IT IS ONE THING AS AN AUDIENCE TO PROJECT A PSYCHOLOGICAL NIGHTMARE UPON A DIRECTOR... IT IS ANOTHER TO BE DRAGGED INTO IT KICKING AND SCREAMING.

FOR INSTANCE, THE DADDY-DAUGHTER ISSUES IN THIS FILM ARE DOWNRIGHT FLABBERGASTING. WAHLBERG'S CADE YEAGER KEEPS HIS DAUGHTER ON A COMICALLY PURITANICAL LEASH: NO DATING. NO EXPRESSIONS OF SEXUALITY. COMPLETE THE OBVIOUS "JUSTIFICATION" THAT THE MAIN CHARACTER IS HYPOCRITICALLY OVERREACTING TO THE FACT THAT HE AND HIS WIFE HAD THIS DAUGHTER IN HIGH SCHOOL, THIS IS ALL OF COURSE MATCHED WITH HER SCANTILY-CLAD APPEARANCE FOR THE ENTIRE RUNNING TIME,  WHICH ONLY GETS BRIEF LIP SERVICE - COMPLETE WITH A CROTCH SHOT, PRACTICALLY HIGHLIGHTING THE MADONNA/WHORE COMPLEX IN ITS ENTIRETY. BUT IT ALL GETS MUDDLED AS CADE IS TOO BUSY SPENDING HIS TIME PROFESSING HIS DEVOTION TO HER. HE EVEN TRIES TO OFF-SET HIS PURITANICAL RULES WITH THE DECLARATION OF HOW HE KEEPS TO THE SAME RULES FOR HIMSELF, SINGLING THEM OUT IN ELECTRA-LIKE DEVOTION, ALL UNTIL IT GETS JAW-DROPPINGLY CREEPY AS TO HOW CLEARLY HE IS IN LOVE WITH HER. AND IT GOES ON AND ON AND ON. EVERY SCENE IS A TERRITORIAL BATTLE FOR HIS DAUGHTER'S AFFECTION. ALL MADE EVEN BETTER WHEN IT IS SET IN THE CONTEXT OF HER SECRET BOYFRIEND'S ARRIVAL, WHEREIN WE ENTER THE MOST INCREDIBLE LOVE TRIANGLE EVER BETWEEN THE TWO OF THEM FIGHTING OVER HER ADORATION.

THE MOST AMAZING THING ABOUT THIS LOVE TRIANGLE IS THAT IT IS THE LEAST INDULGENT LOVE TRIANGLE SINCE JULES ET JIM. NO, WE ARE SPARED THE NOTION OF A MAIN CHARACTER BEING HIT ON ALL SIDES BY ADORATION, BUT INSTEAD, BY EXPLICIT CREEPY DAD LOVE. THOUGH IN ALL HIS INSISTENCE, IT'S NOT REALLY ABOUT LOVE, IS IT? NO CADE KEEPS SAYING OVER AND OVER IT'S ABOUT PROTECTION. PROTECT HER. PROTECT HER. WHEN HE PASSES HIS DAUGHTER ON WITH THE SEAL OF APPROVAL TO A NEW DOUCHEBAG BOYFRIEND, HIS ONLY INSISTENCE IS "PROTECTION." THE VIRGINITY MODEL MADE SO FUCKING EXPLICIT IT'S BARF WORTHY. THIS "PROTECTION" IS ALSO WORTHLESS NEXT TO HIS PRIDE AS HE LETS SOMEONE COUNT DOWN FROM TEN BEFORE ADMITTING A TRANSFORMER'S NAME. NO, SHE IS RENDERED AN OBJECT BECAUSE SHE IS AN INCONSOLABLE IDEA. A VIRGINAL SYMBOL TO BE PROTECTED WHILE CONSTANTLY OGLING UP HER SHORT SHORTS. AND GETTING THROWN TO THE GROUND. TORTURED. SCREAMING. ALL THE WHILE IT'S NOTHING COMPARED TO THE TRANSFORMERS BRO CODE. ALL HER PERPETUATING OF THEIR MISSION'S "CHOICE" IS FABRICATION. ESPECIALLY WHEN SET AGAINST HER OUT-OF-NOWHERE TANTRUM ON HIGH WIRES THAT COULD NOT READ MORE LIKE "BITCHES! RIGHT?" OF COURSE, THE PROBLEM WITH ALL OF THIS MADONNA / WHORE / DAUGHTER / VIRGIN / SLUT ATTITUDE IS THAT MOST PEOPLE DON'T RECOGNIZE IT. IN FACT, THE PSYCHOLOGY IS DUPLICATED ACROSS THE STREAMS OF POPULAR TELEVISION. TO MOST, IT'S HEARTBREAKINGLY INVISIBLE.

THOSE PEOPLE DON'T CARE. UPON EXITING THIS INDUSTRY SCREENING, HULK OVERHEARD SOME SAY "How could a movie with so many explosions be so boring?"

WHICH JUST REVEALS THE OBVIOUS FUCKING TRUTH THAT WE DON'T ACTUALLY LIKE EXPLOSIONS FOR EXPLOSIONS' SAKE. WE SURE THINK WE DO. IN TERMS OF ACTION, EXPLOSIONS ARE MEANT TO BE BEAUTIFUL CINEMATIC METAPHORS FOR BIG MOMENTS, CHARACTER DEATHS, CATHARTIC BASE-BLOWING UPS. BUT ANYTHING IS STUPID IF IT'S MEANINGLESS. AND THROUGH A SOCIOPATHIC LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF HOW THEY WORK, YOU NOW GET 58 EXPLOSIONS IN A ROW TO THE POINT THAT IT COMPLETELY LOSES EFFECT. PARTICULARLY IF ALL THESE EXPLOSIONS DO NOTHING. THEY ARE TEXTURE. BACKGROUND. NOISE. ALL EASILY AVOIDED OR LEADING TO CHARACTERS DUSTING THEMSELVES OFF.

NATURALLY, WHEN IT CAME TIME TO EXPLAIN WHY THE EXPLOSIONS WERE BORING, THEY WENT RIGHT FOR THE DUMB LOGIC ISSUES. WHICH IS NOTHING BUT HULK'S TANGIBLE DETAILS THEORY WRIT LARGE. THE LOGIC OF THIS FILM COULD NOT MATTER LESS. HECK, THE MOMENTS OF DUMB LOGIC ODDLY SEEM LIKE THE MOMENTS IT'S ACTUALLY TRYING TO HAVE FUN. BUT NO, THAT'S NOT WHAT MAKES IT BORING. THE FACT THAT IT'S A FILM THAT HAS NO IDEA HOW TO TELL A STORY IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM IS WHERE IT BECOMES BORING. BUT AGAIN, BORING IS NOT HULK'S PROBLEM. IT'S THE FILMS "IDENTITY." IT'S WHAT THE FILM BELIEVES. SO WHERE IT ALL GETS INSIDIOUS ARE MOMENTS LIKE THE VAGINA-SHOOTING ABOVE. THAT'S WHERE THE IDIOCY AT PLAY REVEALS SOME ROTTEN IDEAS THAT ARE CORRUPT TO THEIR VERY CORE. AND THERE ARE A LAUNDRY LIST OF THEM.

SO HERE'S A LIST OF SOME THINGS THAT LITERALLY HAPPENED WHILE HULK WATCHED TRANSFLRMERS:

-OPTIMUS PASSIONATELY ARGUES THAT AUTOBOTS ARE LIVING BEINGS WITH SOULS AND NOT JUST METAL ROBOTS... YET THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE MOVIE THE AUTOBOTS (READ: GOOD GUYS) LITERALLY CAN'T STOP TALKING  BOUT HOW MUCH THEY WANT TO / ENJOY / GET OFF ON MURDER. HULK IS NOT JOKING. OPTIMUS PRIME, THE GUARDIAN OF GOODNESS, ERUPTS ONSCREEN WITH THE FURY OF HOW HE'S GOING TO KILL EVERYONE.

-OPTIMUS MOANS ON AND ON ABOUT HOW HUMANS CAN'T SEEM TO LEARN FROM THEIR MISTAKES AND KEEP TRYING TO FORCE OTHERS INTO SUBMISSION TO DO THEIR BIDDING. SCENES LATER HE IS BEATING UP OTHER ALIENS, INSISTING THAT HE IS GIVING THEM THEIR FREEDOM, AND TRYING TO BEAT THEM INTO SUBMISSION UNTIL THEY AGREE... AND IT WORKS. "YOU WILL DEFEND MY FREEDOM OR DIE." THE OBVIOUS HILARITY IS THOSE IN A FREE SOCIETY HELL-BENT ON NOT BEING SOMEONE'S "SLAVE" ONLY WANT TO ENSLAVE OTHERS.

-OPTIMUS ALSO KEEPS MOANING ON ABOUT WHY SHOULD HE KEEP SAVING PEOPLE? THE QUESTION CAN BE RETURNED IN FULL FORCE RIGHT BACK AT HIM - ESPECIALLY GIVEN THE BATSHIT MOMENT IN THE LAST FILM WHERE OPTIMUS LETS AN INSANE NUMBER OF PEOPLE DIE TO PROVE A POINT TO THE US GOVERNMENT. REALLY, WHY DO WE KEEP SAVING YOU, OPTIMUS? HULK GETS THAT YOU HAD A LITTLE ATTEMPT WITH THIS CADE, BUT IT GETS MUDDLED WITH SUCH A LACKADAISICAL BATTLE WITH OFF THE CHARTS COLLATERAL DAMAGE. BUT REALLY, IT'S THEIR COLLECTIVE MURDER BONERS. ITS A RIDICULOUS OVERSIGHT THAT INADVERTENTLY REVEALS OUR "BAD GUY" KELSEY GRAMMER IS, LIKE, BASICALLY RIGHT TO DO WHAT HE'S DOING. EVEN BY THE END.... KELSEY GRAMMER WAS RIGHT, YOU GUYS! (PLEASE MAKE T-SHIRT).

-MORE TRADEMARK RACISM! FREED FROM THE TYRANNY OF THE FUCKING ICE CREAM TRUCK, WE ARE INSTEAD TREATED TO A FLUFFY-HAIRED FRED SANFORD RIFF WHO AIDS THE ENEMY FOR REASONS NEVER MADE CLEAR. AND HOW ABOUT THE FACT WE NOW GET A SAMURAI WHO CALLS PRIME SENSEI AND HIS NAME IS ACTUALLY DRIFT... THIS STUFF IS AS SHAMEFUL AS IT IS OBVIOUS. SO PERHAPS EVEN MORE STARTLING WAS HOW ALL THE AUTOBOTS ARE HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE PEOPLE. NOT JUST WITH THEIR AFOREMENTIONED MURDER BONERS. BUT IN HOW THEY ALL SEEM TO HATE / FIGHT WITH EACH OTHER WITHOUT PRIME THERE TO KEEP THEM IN LINE. HULK'S HONESTLY NOT EVEN SURE WHAT THE POINT OF IT IS BECAUSE IT MOSTLY COMES OFF LIKE THE WEIRDEST FUCKING THING EVER.

-AT ONE POINT A SCENE WAS GOING ON SO LONG HULK WENT OUT BACK AND CHECKED IMPORTANT EMAILS AND HULK CAME BACK AND THE SCENE WAS STILL GOING ON.

-THE MAIN CHARACTER CADE, AN INVENTOR WHO STARTS OFF THE FILM ADVOCATING THE EXPLORATION OF SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY AND INVENTION, ENDS THE FILM BY BEING ALL ABOUT HIS NEW GUNS AND ARGUING THAT SOME THINGS SHOULDN'T BE INVENTED.

-OPTIMUS PRIME, WHO SPENDS MOST OF THE FILM IN AN ADOLESCENT FUNK, ALMOST BUILDS INTO AN INTERESTING VARIATION OF THIS BY THE FILM'S END, WHEREIN HE CHARGES TOWARD SPACE WITH AN HONEST-TO-ABE FUCK YOU MANTRA TOWARD HIS "CREATORS" (READ: PARENTS / GOD). WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN INTERESTING IF IT DIDN'T READ AS ERRANTLY MYOPIC AND JUVENILE AS EVERY SINGLE OTHER ONE OF HIS DECISIONS.

* * *

NOW, THIS ALL ADDS UP TO A SEEMING SCREED AGAINST MICHAEL BAY, RIGHT?

THAT'S NOT ACTUALLY THE INTENTION, BECAUSE WRAPPED UP IN THIS ANALYSIS IS THE RUEFUL ADMISSION THAT MICHAEL BAY HAS A MYRIAD OF TALENTS. DUDE'S GOT AN EYE, FOR ONE. WHILE THIS HAVING-AN-EYE OFTEN GETS TRANSLATED TO THE FULL NOTION OF BEING "GOOD AT CINEMATOGRAPHY," HULK WOULD ARGUE THAT THE RELATIVE INCOHERENCY OF HIS SHOTS STRUNG TOGETHER INSTEAD MEANS HE'S JUST GOOD AT LIGHTING, IMAGE QUALITY AND COMPOSITION (TO A SLIGHTLY LESSER DEGREE). AND IF HULK'S BEING HONEST, THEN YEAH, TRANBERRMERS PROBABLY HAS THREE OF THE MOST SUMPTUOUS LOOKIN' SHOTS HULK'S SEEN IN A MAJOR BLOCKBUSTER IN THE LAST FEW YEARS. HE PRACTICALLY DRAPES THE FILM IN MAGIC HOUR, GLEEFULLY CRANKING UP THE SATURATION. AND WHEN IT'S MIXED WITH THE GRATUITOUS AMERICANA IMAGERY, THE WHOLE THING BORDERS ON THIS HYPNOTIZING, GASOLINE-SOAKED ROCKWELLIAN PASTICHE. WHICH ACTUALLY MEANS THERE'S A WEIRD CINEMATIC VOICE IN THERE, ONE BEYOND THE ARTLESS NOISE HE'S OFTEN ACCUSED OF. AND WITH THE PARADE OF VOICELESS FILMMAKERS GOING IN AND OUT OF THE STUDIO SYSTEM, IT'S THE ONE ARENA WHERE HULK HAD TO GIVE THE GUY SOME SINCERE RESPECT... AND THEN YOU HEAR THE DIALOGUE IN TRANSFFFRTMRS AND SUDDENLY YOU REALIZE HE SHOULD BE MAKING SILENT MOVIES. LIKE FOR REAL. HULK JUST SAT THERE THINKING ABOUT HOW IT COULD HAVE BEEN SO DRAMATICALLY IMPROVED IF YOU TOOK OUT EVERY DAMN LINE OF DIALOGUE. YEAH SOME BLOCKBUSTERS ARE LIKE THAT, BUT HOW MANY FILMS CAN YOU SAY WOULD BE 100% BETTER IF YOU CUT OUT EACH AND EVERY SINGLE LINE?

BUT PERHAPS THE EVEN-MORE-RUEFUL ADMISSION IS THAT BAY HAS WHOLLY LEGITIMATE QUALITIES BEYOND THAT. HE'S PASSIONATE ABOUT THE PRESERVATION OF FILM AND SPEAKS WITH AUTHORITY ON ITS UTMOST QUALITY. HE CAN EVEN BE AN ODDLY GREGARIOUS FIGURE IN REAL LIFE, ESPECIALLY WHEN HE'S NOT IN "GENERAL-MODE" AND DIRECTING A MOVIE LIKE IT'S A BATTLEFIELD. MAYBE IT'S JUST THE SAYING ABOUT BROKEN CLOCKS BEING RIGHT TWICE A DAY, BUT HIS COCK-OF-THE-WALK CANDOR CAN SOMETIMES STUMBLE INTO WEIRDLY ENDEARING BEHAVIOR. FUCK, HE EVEN HAS A GREAT CAMEO IN MYSTERY MEN. AND FOR ALL HULK'S NEGATIVE PSYCHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS FROM AFAR, THERE'S ALSO THE SORROWFUL AND EMPATHETIC CHARACTERIZATION OF A MAN WRESTLING HIS DEMONS. WHETHER FULLY ARTICULATED FEMALE ISSUES OR HIS OWN NATURE AS AN ADOPTIVE SON, CLEARLY GOING RIGHT AFTER THE ORIGIN OF HIS BIOLOGICAL DESTINY, HELL-BENT ON DESTROYING / SUPPLANTING HIS CREATORS, WHICH MEANS HE'S ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENT FROM OPTIMUS PRIME SCREAMING TOWARD THE SKY. PUT IT ALL TOGETHER AND IT'S THE CLEAR PORTRAIT OF A VACANT TITAN. A MAN EVERYWHERE, NOWHERE, ALL-POWERFUL AND ALONE.

THERE'S EVEN THE FUN, PERSONAL TRUTH THAT WITHOUT MICHAEL BAY, HULK MIGHT NOT BE HERE AT ALL. GO BACK A BUNCH OF YEARS AND HULK DOUBTED THAT ANYONE WOULD HAVE WANTED TO READ AN ESSAY BY THE HULK, BUT A MERE INTENTION OF LIVE-TWEETING TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN WAS UPENDED BY THE NEED TO REALLY PARSE OUT THIS GUY'S BRAIN IN LONG-FORM. SO HULK WILLY-NILLY CREATED A WORDPRESS BLOG AND THIS WHOLE DOG AND PONY SHOW TOOK OFF.

BUT FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN THIS PERSONAL META ARGUMENT IS THE FACT THAT THERE ARE TIMES WHEN HULK IS FULLY ON BOARD WITH WHAT BAY IS DOING IN SOME OF HIS FILMS. HULK WOULD ARGUE THE ROCK IS PROBABLY HIS MOST FUNCTIONAL FILM IN AND OF ITSELF, BUT THE UNHINGED, BATSHIT EXPRESSION OF BAD BOYS 2 IS THE AUDACITY OF LEGEND. BETTER YET, IN PAIN AND GAIN WE GET A MICHAEL BAY THAT SEEMS TO UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT OF HIS AFFECTATION. FOR IT IS WHERE MR. BAY, NOTED FOR BEING NEAR-OBSESSED WITH THE COEN BROTHERS EVEN THOUGH HE CLEARLY DOESN'T HAVE AN OUNCE OF UNDERSTANDING OF HOW THE CRUELTY WORKS IN THOSE FILMS, ACTUALLY SOMEHOW MANAGES TO TAKE THAT INFLUENCE AND SHAPE HIS OWN KIND OF CRUELTY. IT'S A SUN-SOAKED ECHO OF HIS OWN MACHISMO, A PLACE WHERE HIS UNKEMPT NIHILISM IS FREE TO DANCE AROUND THE SPIRIT OF ITSELF, INVARIABLY CRAFTING MOMENTS THAT 100% WORK, WHETHER IT'S THE JOKES OF FULL-WAHLBERG BELIEVING IN FITNESS OR DELUSIONAL OPULENCE OF THEIR INSANE PLAN. BUT EVEN THEN, IT CAN'T HELP BUT BE SET AGAINST THE MOST BASE OF LITERAL SHIT AND COCK AND RAPE JOKES, WHICH JUST MAKES HULK PING PONG BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN ECHOES OF "THIS GUY GETS IT!" AND "WHOOOOOA THIS GUY DOESN'T GET IT!" HE WILL ALWAYS BE BAY. HECK, EVEN IN TRANS4TERS, HULK WAS WEIRDLY ON BOARD FOR THE FIRST 20 MINUTES OR SO, WHICH MAY HAVE BEEN CARTOONISHLY BROAD IN ITS APPROACH, BUT IT AT LEAST HAD A FEW DEGREES OF FUNCTIONALITY IN THERE. AND EVEN LATER ON, THE FILM TOSSES TOGETHER AN ODDLY COHERENT ARGUMENT ABOUT THE AWFUL WAY WE TREAT VETERANS, WHICH MAKES YOU ACTUALLY RECONSIDER SOME OF THE AUTOBOTS' DISGUSTING BEHAVIOR AND THE THEMATIC CONTEXT FOR THEIR STATEMENTS (REMEMBER: THE "COHERENCY" IS ON A SLIDING SCALE).

THESE BRIEF FLASHES THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER AND MAYBE EVEN THE FILM ITSELF ARE EXACTLY WHY, DURING THE SEEMINGLY ENDLESS AND COMPLETELY BATSHIT LAST BATTLE OF TRANSBOREMERS, HULK BEGAN TO LEGITIMATELY THINK ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT MICHAEL BAY IS AN EVIL SUPER GENIUS.

HULK MEAN, HE OBVIOUSLY COULD NOT GIVE LESS OF A SHIT ABOUT THESE FILMS, RIGHT? BUT HE'S SO CLEARLY TAPPED INTO SOMETHING HERE AND IT MIGHT BE WHY HE KEEPS COMING BACK. THINK ABOUT IT: THE FIRST TRANSFORMERS MIGHT HAVE HAD A SPIELBERGIAN NUGGET OF FUNCTIONALITY (A BOY AND HIS CAR AND WHATNOT) WHICH WAS PROBABLY RESPONSIBLE FOR LAUNCHING A SUPER-FRANCHISE. BUT AFTER THE WRITERLESS / RUDDERLESS / PURPOSELESS SECOND FILM WENT ON TO BE JUST AS POPULAR, BAY PERHAPS SAW THE CRUEL JOKE OF IT ALL BETTER THAN ANYONE. THAT JOKE BEING THAT A SCRIPTLESS, PACELESS, UGLY, NONSENSICAL, BORING AND IMMORAL PIECE OF GARBAGE CAN GO ON AND MAKE GAZILLIONS OF DOLLARS ALL BECAUSE OF THE RIGHT SET OF CONDITIONS. HECK, THE TRANSFORMERS MOVIES ARE NOT ONLY CRITIC-PROOF, BUT ACTUALLY DEPENDENT ON CRITIC-SKEWERING FOR REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY. IT'S TRUE: DEVIN'S KICK ASS TEA-PARTY COMPARISONS AND HULK'S VAGUELY FLABBERGASTED TWEETS ONLY SEEMED TO ELICIT ECHOES OF "THIS SOUNDS SO BAD I HAVE TO SEE IT!" FROM THE PUBLIC, WHICH OBVIOUSLY SHOWCASES THE HUMONGOUS PROBLEM HERE.

BECAUSE WHAT IT ABSOLUTELY PROVES IS THAT ALL THE STUDIOS ARE RIGHT NOT TO GIVE A SHIT ABOUT ART OR MEANING OR STORY OR FUCK-ALL OF ANYTHING. THEY'RE RIGHT TO CHASE I.P. AND ENVISION THE 30-SECOND COMMERCIAL OF A ROBOT RIDING A DINOSAUR AND TRUST THAT WE'RE NOTHING BUT AN AUDIENCE OF BEAVIS AND BUTTHEADS EAGER TO DEVOUR IT. AND IN TURN IT MAKES CRITICS INTO A BUNCH OF FINGER-WAVING NINNIES TRYING TO SUCK THE FUN OUT OF EVERYTHING. WHICH MEANS BOTH REACTIONS PROVE THEM RIGHT. IT'S A NO-WIN SCENARIO. A ZERO SUM GAME. AND HULK IS REALLY STARTING TO THINK THAT BAY UNDERSTANDS THIS (AND HE VERY MUCH MIGHT). A PLACE WHERE HE CAN PUT IN ALL THE GROSSEST STUFF THAT ERUPTS OUT OF HIM, ALL IN THE MOST ARTLESS SHELL IMAGINABLE, ALL TO A COLLECTIVE SHRUG. THAT JUST MEANS TRANSFOURMORES IS NOTHING BUT A LONG ELABORATE JOKE ON ALL OF US. A LITMUS TEST TO SEE IF ANY OF US ARE EVEN AWARE OF THE SHITTY MESSAGES IN THESE FILMS AND WHETHER OR NOT WE EVEN CARE ABOUT THEM. WHICH IN TURN WORKS AS JUST ANOTHER LITMUS TEST ASKING HOW MANY CRITICS SEEM TO EVEN RECOGNIZE IT? MOST SEEM TO JUST BE LIKE "IT HAS BETTER LOGIC" AND / OR "IT'S LESS BORING THAN _____." AND WHETHER OR NOT BAY IS DELIVERING THIS MESSAGE TO US VIA A SOCIOPATHIC EXPECTATION, OR THROUGH MACHIAVELLIAN-LIKE CLARITY FOR MANIPULATING OUR BASEST INSTINCTS, HE'S GETTING AT THE TRUTH:

THIS IS WHAT WE ACTUALLY WANT.

THERE IS NO DENYING IT. WHICH JUST MEANS THAT, WHETHER WE'RE AWARE OR UNAWARE OF IT, THESE FILMS ARE THE BILE OF HUMANITY REFLECTED BACK AT US. SOMETHING THAT INVARIABLY BRINGS OUT OUR WORST POSSIBLE SELVES. THE AUDIENCE THAT LOVES IT. THE AUDIENCE THAT HATE-LOVES IT. THE AUDIENCE THAT LOVES HATING IT. THE AUDIENCE THAT GOES OUT OF MORBID CURIOSITY. THE AUDIENCE THAT JOYFULLY LAUGHS AT THE NIHILISM OF IT ALL. AND EVEN PUTS HULK'S INTO A SPACE FULL OF BOUNDARY CROSSING ASSUMPTIONS OF THE MIND BEHIND IT ALL... IT'S ALL WRONG. IT ALL ONLY SERVES TO EXACERBATE WHAT IS MIND-BLOWINGLY CYNICAL ABOUT LIFE.

SO WHAT THE FUCK DO WE DO ABOUT IT?

* * *

HONESTLY? HULK ORIGINALLY HAD AN ENDING TO THIS COLUMN THAT WAS FUCKING DARK. THE KIND OF ENDING THAT'S FULL OF CYNICISM. AN ADMISSION THAT THE SYSTEM IS LARGELY BROKEN. TO BE HONEST, SEEING GREAT FILMS LIKE EDGE OF TOMORROW LABELED 'A FAILURE" AND BRILLIANT FILMS LIKE SNOWPIERCER FIGHT FOR THEIR VERY RIGHT TO EXIST IS HEARTBREAKING. FROM EVERY EVALUATIVE SENSE, IT'S ALL WRONG.  WHICH JUST MEANS WE HAVE EVERY DAMN EXCUSE TO BE CYNICAL AT OUR DISPOSAL. AND EVEN TO GIVE IN.

THE IDEA, OF COURSE, IS THAT YOU CAN ALSO RELY ON THE GLIMMERS OF HOPE WITHIN THOSE SAME FACTS.

LIKE THE FACT THAT EDGE OF TOMORROW AND SNOWPIERCER EXIST. THEY ARE MIRACLES FOR THAT REASON ALONE. THEY ARE WONDERFUL. THEY ARE WORTH SEEING. AND MOVIES ARE GIFTS. THESE ARE IDEAS HULK HAS PURPORTED TIME AND TIME AGAIN, BUT, QUITE HONESTLY, IN THE WAKE OF TRANSQUIRMERS, NEVER AT ONCE DID THEY SEEM SO DISCONNECTED FROM HULK'S EVALUATION OF THE CULTURAL LANDSCAPE.

RELIEF FROM THIS, HOWEVER, CAME IN THE FORM OF A CONCERT. NOTHING TO DO WITH MOVIES. JUST SOME FRIENDS PLAYING WITH SOME LOVELY ORCHESTRAL MUSIC AND SOME GORGEOUS ART DESIGN IN A GORGEOUS VENUE. IT WAS THE THING THAT JUST TUGGED RIGHT INTO HULK'S SOUL AND SUDDENLY THE WHOLE SYSTEMIC BREAKDOWN DESCRIBED ABOVE HAD A DIFFERENT SHINE.

OF COURSE, IT'S STILL BROKEN - THAT'S THE FUNNY THING ABOUT PERSPECTIVE - IT'S SO TIED TO OUR EMOTIONAL SELVES. BUT AS TO THE RELATIVE MERITS OF SUCH A RELATIVE ARGUMENT, ONE CAN TURN TO THE GREAT RICHARD BRODY FOR THE BEST THOUGHTS ON THE MATTER (AS ONE OFTEN CAN). BUT HULK HAS A CAVEAT: IF THE ARGUMENT IS INVALID BECAUSE IT'S PREDICATED ON THE MORAL RELATIVISM OF LIKING AN "INDIE FILM" OVER "MAINSTREAM" AS SOME KIND OF INHERENT STATEMENT, THEN HULK IS GOING TO GO AHEAD (AND MUCH LIKE HULK'S MOST TROUBLING CHARACTERIZATION OF BAY) PREDICATE ALL THIS ON A MORAL ARGUMENT, ALBEIT BASED ON HULK'S PERCEIVED ASSESSMENT OF THESE RELATIVE QUALITIES. IT'S NOT AN EVALUATION. IT'S AN ARGUMENT. SO YEAH, HULK IS ARGUING THAT IT SHOULDN'T BE SUCH A STRETCH TO MAKE FILMS AND CRITICS AND AUDIENCES AWARE OF THESE PARTICULAR KINDS OF DAMAGING PSYCHOSEXUAL MESSAGES AND GROSS TEA-PARTY HORRORS. YEAH, IT'S A MORAL ARGUMENT, BUT HULK WOULD NEVER TRY TO PRETEND ANYTHING BUT.

BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS AN ARGUMENT. EVERYTHING IS PREDICATED ON THAT HERE, AS IT SHOULD BE. AND WHETHER TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION IS ABOUT THE EXTINCTION OF OUR FIGURATIVE ANALYTICAL CULTURE REMAINS TO BE SEEN.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT?

WELL, AGAIN IT BECOMES THE QUESTION OF WHAT THE FUCK DO WE WANT TO DO?

HULK'S GOING TO ARGUE FOR PERCEIVED QUALITY. EDGE OF TOMORROW AND SNOWPIERCER ARE GREAT. GO SEE THEM IF YOU CAN. DON'T GO SEE TRANSFORMERS. IT'S MORALLY UGLY AND BORING.

AND IT'S JUST AN ARGUMENT.

<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.
t