Film Crit Hulk Smash: THE IMPORTANCE OF DRAMATIZING CHARACTER (PART ONE)

Film Crit Hulk takes on THE MAN OF STEEL. 

PART ONE - A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE INTRODUCTIONS

PLEASE NOTE: THIS ESSAY WILL DISCUSS THE ENTIRE PLOT OF MAN OF STEEL IN DEPTH.

PLEASE ALSO NOTE: THIS ESSAY HAS FOUR DIFFERENT INTRODUCTIONS. SORRY BOUT THAT, IT'S JUST THAT WE'RE ULTIMATELY GOING TO NEED THEM ALL.

* * *

INTRO #1

EVERY SUMMER PEOPLE ASK WHY HULK IS SUDDENLY BEING ALL CYNICAL AND NEGATIVE AND JUNK. THEY WORRY THIS DISPOSITION IS SOMEHOW A NEW TREND AND THAT HULK HAS SUDDENLY BECOME "ANOTHER JADED MOVIE CRITIC" OR SOMETHING. OTHERS EVEN CLAIM THAT HULK IS JUST BEING SNOTTY AND PRETENTIOUS AND LOOKING DOWN ON "REGULAR MOVIES." THE TRUTH IS THAT NEITHER OF THESE EVALUATIONS IS ACCURATE AT ALL. IN FACT, THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IS THAT HULK ACTUALLY LOVES SUMMER MOVIES A WHOOOOOLE BUNCH. SERIOUSLY, HULK JUST LOVES EM. FOR A GOOD POPCORN MOVIE IS FUN, THRILLING, HILARIOUS, AND CAN HONESTLY GET AT SOME OF THE BASIC HUMAN LIFE LESSONS AS WELL AS A HIGH-MINDED ART FILM. IT IS THAT VERY BROADNESS THAT MAKES POPCORN MOVIES SO DAMN IMPORTANT. THEY ARE THE FILMS EVERYONE SEES AND RALLIES AROUND. FROM THERE, THEY HAVE THE CHANCE TO BECOME LARGER NATIONAL CONVERSATIONS. AND WHETHER WE ARE AWARE OF IT OR NOT, THEY TEND TO REFLECT SOME PART OF OUR HUMAN ETHOS AND PERSPECTIVE. BECAUSE OF THAT, THEY BECOME OUR PROVERBIAL CAMPFIRE.

SO THE REASON HULK ALWAYS SEEMS TO GET SO NEGATIVE DURING THE SUMMER MOVIE SEASON IS THAT LITERALLY HALF OF THESE "CULTURAL CAMPFIRES" NOT ONLY REFLECT SO POORLY ON OUR CULTURAL ETHOS, BUT THEY SOMEHOW MANAGE TO FAIL SO SPECTACULARLY AT STORYTELLING 101.

AND THERE'S JUST NO GOOD REASON FOR IT.

* * *

INTRO #2

IT SOUNDS SILLY, BUT HULK SPENDS ALL DAY THINKING ABOUT STORIES.

REALLY. ALL DAMN DAY. BUT THAT'S JUST BECAUSE IT'S LITERALLY ONE OF HULK'S JOBS TO THINK ABOUT STORY FUNCTION AND COME UP WITH SOLUTIONS. AND NOT JUST FOR HULK'S OWN PERSONAL STORIES, BUT LOTS OF DIFFERENT STORIES THAT BELONG TO OTHER PEOPLE. AND THESE STORIES COMPRISE ALL SORTS OF DIFFERENT GENRES, WITH ALL SORTS OF DIFFERENT CAPACITIES AND ALL SORTS OF DIFFERENT PURPOSES. THIS MEANS THAT HULK HAS TO HAVE A MALLEABLE UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT "WORKS" AND ALSO NEEDS TO DEPERSONALIZE ALL OF IT, FOR THE VERY POINT OF THIS JOB IS TO HELP. NOT TO GET IN THE WAY, NOR CLOG UP THE CREATIVE WORKS, NOR TRY TO PUT HULK'S STAMP ON IT. NO, THE PURPOSE IS TO HELP MAKE THE STORY BETTER. AND THAT MEANS HELPING PEOPLE BETTER UNDERSTAND THE STORY THEY WANT TO TELL AND BEING ABLE TO TALK ABOUT IT OPENLY.

ON A NUTS 'N' BOLTS LEVEL, DOING THIS JOB WELL TAKES A RATHER STUDIOUS UNDERSTANDING OF DRAMA: THE MECHANISMS. THE MEDIUMS. THE MODES. THE AFFECTATION. YOU NAME IT. AND FAR FROM THERE BEING ONE SET LOGIC TO STORYTELLING ON THE WHOLE, INSTEAD WE HAVE A SERIES OF A THOUSAND MINI-STORYTELLING DEVICES THAT ALL HAVE SPECIFIC PURPOSES. AND THE BETTER YOU ASSEMBLE THEM, THE MORE CLEARLY YOU CAN ARTICULATE 1) WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY AND 2) HOW BEST TO DRAMATIZE IT. MEANING THE KNOW-HOW OF TELLING A STORY IS SECRETLY LIKE ANY OTHER PRACTICAL ENGINEERING. YOU CAN'T JUST KNOW HOW TO SOLVE ONE KIND OF PROBLEM. YOU WOULD HAVE TO KNOW ALL THE VARIOUS FORMS AND TOTALITY OF MATHEMATICS AND WHEN A PARTICULAR PROBLEM COMES ALONG, YOU CAN APPLY THE MATHEMATICAL RULES WHICH BEST FIT. LIKE ALL THINGS, GETTING GOOD AT THIS REQUIRES PRACTICE, TIME AND A GREAT DEAL OF EFFORT. THE PROBLEM IS, UNLIKE MATHEMATICS WHERE THE SPECIFICITY OF LANGUAGE TENDS TO BLOCK PEOPLE OUT, MOST PEOPLE FEEL LIKE THEY CAN TALK ABOUT STORIES. THE PROBLEM IS THAT THEY TRY TO TALK ABOUT STORY USING THEIR VAGUE, POORLY INTUITIVE OR LIMITED KNOWLEDGE BASE. EVEN WITHIN THE INDUSTRY. FROM THERE THEY WILL THEN TRY TO BULLY THEIR SOLUTIONS INTO PLACE REGARDLESS IF THEY FIT. THAT'S WHY SO MANY PEOPLE COMPLAIN ABOUT "THE STUDIO PROCESS." FOR EVERY TRULY GREAT PERSON IN THAT SYSTEM, THERE ARE TWO STORY BULLIES AND THEY ARE NOT DOING ANYONE ANY FAVORS. BUT THE SOLUTION IS RIGHT THERE. WE HAVE TO IDENTIFY PROBLEMS IN A CLEAR AND MEANINGFUL WAY AND THEN ZERO IN ON THE SOLUTIONS TOGETHER, WHICH MEANS COMMUNICATION SKILLS ARE PARAMOUNT TO MAKING ANY STORY WORK.

AND SO THE ONE THING THAT HULK HAS DISCOVERED IN THIS JOB IS THAT THE BEST WAY OF COMMUNICATING AND GETTING AT THE HEART OF PROBLEMS IS BY ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS. FOR EXAMPLE, START WITH "THE BIG SEVEN":

WHAT DOES THIS CHARACTER WANT?

WHAT DOES THIS CHARACTER NEED?

HOW DO THOSE WANTS AND NEEDS CONFLICT WITH EACH OTHER WITHIN THE CHARACTER?

HOW DO THEY CONFLICT WITH THE OUTSIDE WORLD?

HOW DO THEY CONFLICT WITH OTHER CHARACTERS?

HOW DOES THE CHARACTER CHANGE THROUGH THOSE CONFLICTS AND HOW DOES THE RESOLUTION AFFECT THEM?

WHAT IMPACT DOES THAT CHANGE HAVE ON EVERYONE ELSE?

THOSE ARE THE 7 BASIC QUESTIONS OF NARRATIVE DRAMA AND THEY ARE THE ONES THAT HULK ALWAYS STARTS WITH ANY TIME THAT HULK READS A SCRIPT. YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, IT'S NOT AS IF THEY ARE THE BE-ALL-END-ALL OF STORY COHESION, BUT THEY REALLY DO A GREAT JOB OF IMMEDIATELY IDENTIFYING THE MOST BASIC PROBLEMS OF ANY NARRATIVE AND THAT'S BECAUSE THOSE QUESTIONS ARE THE ONES THAT THAT MOST ILLUMINATE 1) CHARACTER MOTIVATION AND 2) CHARACTER-CENTRIC CONFLICT... WHICH, YA KNOW, HAPPEN TO BE THE BASIS OF GOOD STORYTELLING. AND SO, THESE 7 QUESTIONS ARE SUCH A GREAT PLACE TO START FOR ANY STORY DIAGNOSTICIAN.

AND YOU WOULD BE SURPRISED BY HOW MANY MAINSTREAM MOVIES FAIL TO ANSWER THOSE QUESTIONS WHATSOEVER.

... OKAY, MAYBE THAT DOESN'T SURPRISE YOU AT ALL.

* * *

INTRO #3

HULK HAS SPENT THE LAST FEW WEEKS THINKING, READING AND LISTENING.

YOU SEE, HULK WENT AND SAW MAN OF STEEL'S OPENING MIDNIGHT SHOW WITH AN EXCITED AUDIENCE AND, WELL, HULK THOUGHT IT WAS NOT SO GOOD. SURE, IT SEEMS LIKE THERE'S GOOD STUFF IN THERE, BUT IF WE ARE JUST TALKING ABOUT IT ON THE PUREST STORY LEVEL (AKA THE MOST IMPORTANT PART), HULK THOUGHT IT FAILED SO SPECTACULARLY. AFTER THE CREDITS ROLLED HULK JUST SAT THERE WITH BETTY FOR A MOMENT AS WE STARED IN BEWILDERMENT AT EVERYONE ELSE. HALF THE AUDIENCE WAS TALKING EXCITEDLY. THE OTHER HALF WAS YELLING ANGRILY. THEN WE WENT OUTSIDE AND TALKED WITH SOME OF HULK'S INDUSTRY FRIENDS AND EVERYONE WAS IN COMPLETE AGREEMENT AS TO THE NOT-SO-GOODNESS OF THE FILM. IT ACTUALLY GOT PRETTY HEATED. BUT THEN HULK DID THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ONE CAN DO AT A MOMENT LIKE THAT AND THAT IS HULK TRIED TO SUBVERT THE INCLINATION TOWARD FEELING "THIS IS THE ONLY POSSIBLE CONCLUSION!" SO HULK WENT HOME AND STARTED READING OTHER CRITICS AND FRIENDS WHO PRAISED IT. THE REASON FOR DOING SO ISN'T JUST ABOUT THE HUMANE "NEVER HATE A MOVIE" MANTRA, NOR IS IT EXPRESSLY ABOUT THE ETHICS OF WANTING TO HARSH SOMEONE'S BUZZ. IT'S ABOUT THE PROCESS OF COMING TO GREATER UNDERSTANDING OF HOW MOVIES AFFECT PEOPLE.

SEE THE THING ABOUT BEING A STORY DIAGNOSTICIAN, UNLIKE A CRITIC, IS THE JOB DOESN'T REQUIRE YOU TO SAY WHAT YOU THINK AND REFLECT THE EXPERIENCE FOR YOURSELF (THEREBY ASSUMING YOUR VOICE IS JUST LENDING TO THE PLURALITY OF GREATER CONSENSUS). INSTEAD, THE JOB IS TO ACTIVELY TRY AND UNDERSTAND WHAT EVERYONE ELSE WILL THINK AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHY THEY THINK IT. WE DO NOT DO THIS BECAUSE THEIR OPINION IS INHERENTLY "RIGHT" (WE'LL GET TO THAT NEXT), BUT BECAUSE THEIR OPINIONS (EVEN POORLY FORMED ONES) WILL HELP YOU UNDERSTAND HOW MOVIES WORK ON A MACRO LEVEL, FAR OUTSIDE YOUR OWN MYOPIA. YOUR JOB IS NOT TO ADHERE TO EVERYONE'S SPECIFIC WANTS, BUT TO UNDERSTAND WHAT STORY CHOICES ARE SECRETLY AFFECTING PEOPLE, MAYBE WITHOUT THEIR REALIZING IT. AND THAT REALLY MEANS YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO HOW PEOPLE TALK AND WHAT THEIR MOTIVATIONS WERE. YOU HAVE TO ASK THE POINTED QUESTIONS: DID THIS WORK FOR YOU? WHY DID IT WORK FOR YOU? HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT THE FAULTS? HOW DID YOU FEEL THE FILM OVERCAME THOSE FAULTS? WHAT DO YOU WANT OUT OF THIS MOVIE? HOW COULD IT HAVE WORKED BETTER FOR YOU? HOW COULD IT HAVE WORKED FOR US BOTH? AND THEN YOU SIMPLY HAVE TO TAKE YOUR TIME WITH IT AND MEDITATE ON THOSE ANSWERS, FOR IMMEDIACY BREEDS SINGULARITY. YOU HAVE TO FORCE YOURSELF TO BE OPEN AND CONSTANTLY CURIOUS, FOR THIS PROCESS HAS TO BE TREATED AS AN ONGOING SCHOLARLY ONE. A STORY DIAGNOSTICIAN HAS TO BE THE ETERNAL STUDENT.

AND IN ALL THAT TIME HULK REALIZED WHAT MANY OTHERS REALIZED AFTER THEIR INITIAL SCREENING: THAT MAN OF STEEL MIGHT BE ONE OF THE MOST DIVISIVE BLOCKBUSTERS IN RECENT MEMORY. SOME OF THIS IS DUE TO STRICT ISSUES OF PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION AND HISTORY WITH THE EXTREMELY POPULAR CHARACTER OF SUPERMAN, BUT THE DIVISION WAS JUST AS EVENLY SPLIT EVEN AMONG THE NON-RABID, NORMAL CINEMA-GOERS AS WELL. SO WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED? WHY IS THE MOVIE CAUSING SUCH A SPLIT? WHY DO ALL THE OPINIONS SEEM TO BE SO VARIED? WELL, AFTER ALL THAT THINKING, READING AND LISTENING, HULK HAS REALIZED ONE UNIFYING THING:

MAN OF STEEL REVEALS A WHOLE BUNCH ABOUT HOW WE WATCH MOVIES.

AND SOME OF IT ISN'T GOOD.

* * *

INTRO #4

HULK'S TALKED ABOUT IT BEFORE IN AN OLD-AS-HELL ESSAY, BUT ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO UNDERSTAND IN THE FIELD OF CRITICISM (OR ANYTHING REALLY) IS THE "THE TANGIBLE DETAILS THEORY." TO EXPLAIN: WE KNOW IN OUR GUT IF WE LIKE OR DISLIKE SOMETHING WHEN WE WATCH IT, BUT WHEN IT COMES TIME TO ACTUALLY EXPLAIN WHY WE LIKE OR DISLIKE SOMETHING, WE JUST END UP GIVING OUR REASONS BASED ON OUR RELATIVE LEVEL UNDERSTANDING OF THE THING ITSELF.

FOR INSTANCE, HULK DOESN'T KNOW SHIT ABOUT CARS.

STILL, HULK DRIVES A CAR EVERY DAY (JUMPING AROUND IS TIRING). HULK KNOWS WHAT CARS HULK THINKS LOOK COOL (1963 CHEVY STINGRAYS). HULK CAN GET IN A CAR AND TELL YOU IF IT FEELS GOOD TO DRIVE OR NOT. WHICH ALL MEANS THAT HULK BUYS AND CONSUMES CARS IN A TOTALLY FUNCTIONAL STATE. BUT HULK DOESN'T UNDERSTAND THEM. HULK COULDN'T TELL YOU HOW THEY WORK OR WHAT IS WHAT IN AN ENGINE. AND SO HULK'S OPINION ON WHETHER OR NOT A CAR IS "GOOD OR NOT" SHOULDN'T REALLY BE CONSIDERED WITH THE SAME VALIDITY AS SOMEONE WHO CAN ACTUALLY ENGINEER OR PROPERLY FIX A CAR. THEY SIMPLY KNOW WHAT MAKES FOR A GOOD CAR. BUT THE THING IS THAT WE ALL HAVE OUR RELATIVE AREAS OF EXPERTISE. MEANING THAT SAME MECHANIC CAN WATCH A MOVIE AND GO "that fucking sucked cause I hated his stupid face!" AND YET THEY CAN SIMPLY HEAR HULK'S ENGINE AND IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM FROM THE SOUND IT MAKES ALONE. IT IS ABOUT EXPERTISE IN A FIELD.

BUT THE PROBLEM IS THAT WHEN IT COMES TO MOVIES WE HAVE THIS ODD HABIT OF THINKING THAT:

1) WE ALL HAVE A LEVEL OF EXPERTISE JUST BECAUSE WE ARE AVID CONSUMERS.

2) ACTUAL EXPERTS DON'T EXIST.

AND NEITHER OF WHICH IS ALL THAT TRUE. IT'S THE SAME REASON SO MANY PEOPLE JUST ASSUME THEY CAN WRITE A SCRIPT / STORY OR BE AN ACTOR WITHOUT MUCH EXPERIENCE (HINT: THAT DOESN'T WORK OUT VERY OFTEN). AND IT'S JUST A FAILURE TO SEE HOW MUCH OF WHAT THEY ARE ENGAGING IS ACTUALLY TECHNICAL OR BUILT ON EXPERIENCE. WHAT MAKES IT SO FUNNY IS THAT IT'S THE KIND OF THINKING YOU RARELY SEE IN SPORTS. NOBODY ASSUMES THEY CAN JUST RUN OUT ON THE FIELD AND STRIKE OUT THE SIDE (IF YOU DON'T LIKE BASEBALL, THAT MEANS "DO REALLY GOOD"). PEOPLE DRIVE EVERYDAY, BUT NO ONE ASSUMES THEY CAN JUST HOP INTO THE DAYTONA 500 AND COMPETE. BUT FOR SOME REASON WE DO MAKE THIS ASSUMPTION WITH MOVIES ALL THE TIME. WE ASSUME THAT JUST BECAUSE WE KNOW THE END RESULT OF HOW A MEDIA EXPERIENCE AFFECTS US, WE THEREFORE UNDERSTAND HOW IT WORKED ON US. AND IT GIVES RISE TO ONGOING HABITS OF OPINION THAT MAY BE TOTALLY JUSTIFIED ON AN EMOTIONAL LEVEL, BUT THEY ARE NOT "RIGHT" IN THE WAY THEY ARE DIAGNOSING WHAT IS GOOD AND BAD. FOR INSTANCE, SOMEONE CAN DISLIKE SOPHIE'S CHOICE BECAUSE IT MADE THEM SAD, BUT THAT DOES NOT VALIDATE THEIR OPINION THAT IT IS "A BAD MOVIE." IT DEPENDS ON A CRUCIAL UNDERSTANDING OF FUNCTION, NOT MERE EFFECT.

AGAIN, THE THING ABOUT TANGIBLE DETAILS IS THAT WE ALL HAVE OUR RELATIVE CAPACITIES TO PERCEIVE BEYOND THEM OR FALL VICTIM TO THEM. FOR INSTANCE, TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE MAY WATCH NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN AND BOTH LIKE IT, BUT ONE WILL JUSTIFY IT WITH SOMETHING SIMPLE LIKE "It was awesome they had the gunfight in the hotel!" WHEREAS THE OTHER COULD HAVE MORE THEMATIC, NUANCED LEANINGS AND SAY: "The ending is just a perfect encapsulation of how one essentially 'retires' from the world of material pursuits when they've seen the cost of those pursuits and the cavernous loss that it creates! The constancy of death is haunting!" BOTH CAME TO THE SAME EVALUATION OF "GOOD" THROUGH RADICALLY DIFFERENT MEANS. THE SAME WOULD BE TRUE FOR PEOPLE WHO DIDN'T LIKE THE MOVIE. ONE PERSON CAN JUSTIFY THEIR DISLIKE BY SAYING "I thought the ending was stupid! I didn't get it! I wish we saw him get killed!" WHEREAS SOMEONE ELSE CAN SAY "I have a long-winded explanation for how the approach to the ending does not satisfy me on a cathartic level, even though that's totally the point of this movie and it builds to that message beautifully!" ...OKAY SOMEONE WOULD NEVER SAY IT LIKE THAT, BUT HULK LOVES THAT MOVIE SO DEAL WITH IT.

THE POINT IS THAT WE COULD JUST CHALK THESE DIFFERENCES IN OPINION OVER THE MOVIE UP TO A MATTER OF DRUTHERS, BUT WHILE EVERYONE IS CERTAINLY ENTITLED TO THEIR OPINION THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT EVERYONE IS ENTITLED TO THEIR OPINION BEING RIGHT. THAT'S SIMPLY NOT WHAT SUBJECTIVITY IS ABOUT, YET WE MAKE THIS MISTAKE ALL THE TIME. JUST BECAUSE OPINIONS AREN'T FACTS DOES NOT MEAN THAT SOME OPINIONS AREN'T MORE COHERENT, HELPFUL AND PRODUCTIVE THAN OTHERS. AND THE OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "The gun fight is awesome!" AND THE "perfect encapsulation of..." IS THE QUALITY OF INSIGHT. IT'S THE ABILITY TO ENGAGE THE TEXT FOR ITS EXPRESSED PURPOSE, AND THEN THEIR RESPECTIVE ABILITIES TO PROVIDE AN EDUCATIONAL PROCESS TO THE READER, FAR BEYOND THE LAME CONCLUSION OF BAD/GOOD WITHIN THE OPINION ITSELF.

THAT'S WHY HULK COULDN'T CARE LESS ABOUT THE ONGOING CRITICAL DISCUSSION OF "AGREEMENT" AND "WORTH." YOU ALWAYS SEE ARGUMENTS LIKE "Oh, I love that critic! I always agree with them!" (WHICH ONLY MAKES SENSE AS A BUYING GUIDE, NOT FOR INSIGHT) OR "That critic thought that movie was the best of the year!? What an idiot! It's clearly only the 8th best movie of the year!" THAT STUFF ACTUALLY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MOVIES OR HOW THEY WORK OR ANYTHING THAT IS HELPFUL TO YOU. INSTEAD, HULK WANTS TO READ A CRITIC TO SEE HOW THEIR MIND MOVES. HULK WANTS RECOMMENDATIONS OR PRO-MOVIE ARGUMENTS THAT HULK HAS NEVER SEEN BEFORE. HULK DOESN'T JUST WANT TO KNOW ANOTHER OPINION EXISTS, HULK WANTS TO EXPAND HULK'S MIND AND GAIN UNDERSTANDING OF CINEMA HISTORY OR HOW IT WORKS. SUBJECTIVITY IS ONLY REALLY MEANT TO BE A CAUTIONING REMINDER OVER OUR CERTAINTY AND A WAY TO ENCOURAGE GROWTH. SUBJECTIVITY IS WHY WE HAVE TO LISTEN TO EACH OTHER AND NOT BE 100% SURE OF OUR OWN OPINIONS, BUT IT IS NOT WHAT MAKES US ALL EQUALLY RIGHT. SURE, MOVIES ARE THESE GRAND ARTISTIC THINGS THAT WE ALL HAVE EMOTIONAL REACTIONS TO, BUT THERE REALLY ARE THINGS LIKE CRAFT, COHESION, PURPOSE AND THE EFFECT ON THE AUDIENCE, WHICH THEN MEANS IT'S ABOUT OUR ABILITY TO CONTEXTUALIZE AND EXPLAIN TO THEM THAT MATTERS, NOT THE SHOUTS OF "This is what I thought, dammit!!!" SERIOUSLY, JUST BECAUSE WE CAN'T COME TO DEFINITIVE CONCLUSIVE STATEMENTS WITH ART DOESN'T MEAN WE CAN'T DO OUR DAMNEDEST TO ESTABLISH A FIRMER GRIP ON THE NOT-SO-TANGIBLE DETAILS THAT HIDE BENEATH THE SURFACE AND UNVEIL THE REAL ENGINEERING OF MOVIES.

HULK FEELS LIKE THAT SIMPLE FACT GETS LOST ALL THE TIME: MOVIES ARE METICULOUSLY ENGINEERED. THEY TAKE YEARS TO DEVELOP AND HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE TO CRAFT THEM (WHICH MEANS THE FAULT OF BAD MOVIES IS OFTEN DUE TO LARGER CONCEPTUAL MISUNDERSTANDINGS OF PURPOSE AND EFFECT AND NOT PURE INABILITY). THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS INHERENTLY LAYERED BENEATH THE TANGIBLE DETAILS. AND SINCE THEY ARE CRAFTED IN SUCH A WAY, HULK ARGUES IT IS NOT ONLY FAIR TO ENGAGE THEM ON THE LEVEL OF SAID METICULOUS CRAFT, BUT SHOULD ULTIMATELY BE REQUIRED IN A WAY. FOR THE MORE YOU ENGAGE THE MOVIE ON ALL THE TERMS IT'S TRYING TO ENGAGE YOU, THE MORE COMPLETE AND ACCURATE THE EVALUATION!

OKAY, BREATHE HULKY.

SO.

BEYOND THE PUSH-PULL OF THE RELATIVITY OF OPINIONS, HERE'S THE REAL REASON THE TANGIBLE DETAILS THEORY MATTERS: IF THERE IS NOTHING ON THE SURFACE THAT IS SO OBVIOUSLY BAD, THEN THE NON-EXPERT CAN'T TELL IF THERE'S SOMETHING ACTUALLY WRONG.

IF HULK DOESN'T ACTUALLY NOTICE A PROBLEM WITH HULK'S CAR THEN HULK IS JUST GOING TO ASSUME IT'S WORKING FINE! (THAT'S EXACTLY WHY HULK ISN'T A MECHANIC.) LIKEWISE, IF A CINEMA-GOER IS NEVER ABJECTLY BORED IN A MOVIE AND DOESN'T NOTICE ANYTHING OBVIOUSLY + TANGIBLY BAD IN IT (MEANING IF THEY CAN'T POINT TO ANYTHING SPECIFIC IN THE MOMENT AND GO "That totally sucks!") THEN THE MOVIE BECOMES EASY TO SHRUG IT OFF OR GIVE A PASS. IT BECOMES EASY TO SAY "I definitely watched a thing for two hours and it didn't offend me!" WHICH IS EXACTLY THE REASON THESE DAYS WE HAVE SO MANY SINGULAR-TONED, WELL-CONSTRUCTED, WELL-ACTED, RAPID-CUTTING, EMPTY SHELLS OF MEANINGLESS BLOCKBUSTERS THAT FAIL TO REALLY RESONATE OR ENGINEER THEIR STORIES PROPERLY. THE STRATEGY IS NOT TO COMPEL THE AUDIENCE, BUT TO PACIFY THEM. STUDIOS HAVE REALIZED THAT PEOPLE WILL READILY ACCEPT A MOVIE AT FACE VALUE AND NOT SEE THE FAULTY ENGINEERING IMMEDIATELY (REALLY, THEY TALK OPENLY ABOUT THIS). LIKEWISE, THESE SAME MOVIEGOERS WILL SEE A CRITIC'S COMPLAINTS AND NO MATTER HOW WELL-RATIONALIZED OF JUSTIFIED THEY WILL BE, THE OPINION WILL STILL COME AS AN AFFRONT TO THEIR "OBVIOUSLY TRUE" GUT FEELING. THE DYNAMIC IS OFTEN NO DIFFERENT THAN THAT WITH THE PROVERBIAL MECHANIC, "What my car, works just fine! What do you know? You're just trying to sell me shit I don't need!!!" AND THEY LEAVE IN A HUFF... ONLY THREE WEEKS LATER THEIR CAR IS BACK IN THE SHOP.

THAT'S WHY HULK HAS SORT OF DEVOTED HULK'S LIFE TO UNDERSTANDING THE UNSPOKEN THINGS THAT PUT MOVIES "BACK IN THE SHOP THREE WEEKS LATER" IF THAT MAKES SENSE. WHAT MAKES A MOVIE LIKE JAWS LAST FOR GENERATIONS AND WHAT MAKES A SEEMINGLY INOFFENSIVE POPCORN MOVIE GO IN ONE EAR AND OUT THE OTHER? HULK'S DRIVE TO UNDERSTAND THIS IS NOT BORN OUT OF ANY DESIRE TO BE AUTHORITATIVE, NOR TO BE SINGULAR. IT IS BORN FROM THE DESIRE TO FIGURE OUT HOW MOVIES REALLY WORK. IT IS THE DRIVE TO UNDERSTAND THE "WHAT WE REALLY MEAN" IN A WORLD WHERE WE TALK ABOUT MOVIES IN RADICALLY DIFFERENT WAYS.

AND THOSE THINGS FEED INTO THE DRIVE TO DELIVER BETTER MOVIES FOR EVERYONE.

AND THAT'S EXACTLY WHY IT'S TIME TO FINALLY TALK ABOUT MAN OF STEEL, WHICH MIGHT BE A PERFECT MOVIE TO EXAMINE BECAUSE IT HAS DEEPLY ANGERED HALF OF ITS INTENDED AUDIENCE, WHILE THE OTHER HALF SINGS ITS PRAISES AND CLAIMS THEY HAVE FINALLY GOTTEN THE SUPERMAN MOVIE THEY ALWAYS WANTED. THE TWO GROUPS HAVE SEEMINGLY WATCHED DIFFERENT MOVIES. AND IF WE BELIEVED IN SUBJECTIVITY-AS-LAW, WE COULD JUST CHALK THIS UP TO A MATTER OF DRUTHERS... OR WE CAN TRY TO FIGURE HOW THE HELL THIS POPCORN MOVIE MANAGED TO CREATE SUCH A SCHISM.

SO LET'S TRY AND FIGURE OUT WHAT HAPPENED.

* * *

READ PART TWO

Related Articles

Comments