The depressing thing about any film descending from the Michael Bay death-star is that it is impervious to any kind of criticism. The intelligent critic (not me) has learned to pass over these movies in silence. They are the cinematic equivalent of the Trump-style demagogue, appealing through violence to the dumbest male-gaze demographic.
A demographic, mind, that has a lot of cash to burn, or, more dangerously, votes to cast. So it’s no surprise that Michael Bay (or Trump) has ascended to a position of power. It is not that America has become churlish and willfully-uneducated overnight, but that larger-than-is-comfortable sections of its populace have always been that way. This is hard news to take because it disrupts our Obama era vision of a progressive America. To the anti-Trump supporters with their “make America hate again” slogan: America has already been hating
for a long time.
Likewise, a lot of people, it turns out, have bad taste. So the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot grossed nearly half a billion. Never mind if most of those tickets were sold to children. Children should know better (Mom? Dad? Do you select the media your child consumes?)
The impervious nature of the Bay Universe movie is made evident once again by the reboot’s sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, produced, as was the last, by Mr. Bay. Did most critics revile and pan the first reboot? Yes they did. Does it matter? No. Not when half a billion can be dreamed of in the treatment: and of course merchandize. The movie is one long god-awful action figure commercial. Not that most sci-fi comic book movies aren’t ads, (I’m looking at you Star Wars) but then some commercials are better than others.
The crux here is that because TMNT Out of the Shadows is reminiscent of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (in a Bay way) one realizes that that too was a commercial; one for selling a mercenary colonial war. It is not too far a stretch of the imagination to dream of American-vigilante action figures, complete with their islamo-fascist counterparts whose bodies can be ripped apart in playground combat: this terrorist leaks spinal fluid! This terrorist can be shot in half! Now including special edition blood mist! So it goes.
Let that imagination mature into one that can purchase actual fire-arms and you have a real socio-political problem. For the gun buyer, fantasy is half the fun.
The turtles of course are also bro-vigilantes, saving New York in “secret,” living in the “shadows.” Where once in the comic book world the mutant was stand in for minority or queer, in the Bay universe a mutant is an unsung member of the silent majority: a white dude forced to live in the sewer because Obama. And by extension: Trump is king of the mutants, shunned and attacked by liberal media for being “warped” and “twisted.” Everybody wants to be a victim. Especially a victim who knows karate, or has a billion dollars.
Of course none of this critique is at all consequential to Mr. Bay. You only have to look at the grin on his face to know that he isn’t losing any time soon.