Sunday, April 17, 2016

Review: Batman v Superman - Dawn of Justice

I gave Man of Steel a pretty good review when it came out, though a major problem I had with it was that it was a crappy Superman story and that it wasn’t all that fun. Superman did kill a dude in that flick and while that did bug me what really bothered me was that he didn’t really seem to care all that much afterwards. I mean, Superman probably shouldn’t kill but the reason he shouldn’t is mostly due to his own repulsion at doing so. Man of Steel was a fine action film but it felt a bit like Zack Snyder didn’t really “get” the character. Superman doesn’t need a “dark and gritty” reimagining and if you think he does then you don’t “get him either (similarly the Fantastic Four doesn’t need a “grim and gritty” take either).

Enter the film we’re looking at today: Batman v Board of Education. While Man of Steel was the soft launch of DC Expanded Universe, devised to compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this flick is the true start of the campaign. This film, like Man of Steel, was directed by Snyder. I’ve reviewed a few of his movie at this point, Sucker Punch being the film I associate with him the most (Note: I hated it). This movie is heavily influenced by the 1986 comic book The Dark Knight Returns which, along with Watchmen, is credited with ushering in the Dark Age of Comics. The hype machine for this movie has been running hard for over a year, mainly because despite the flick being done Warner Bros. opted to push it back from Summer 2015 to Spring 2016. Having been out for bit now the film has been met mostly negative reviews, with a few sprinklings of folk claiming it’s a fantastic film. Well, now that I’ve seen it myself I have my own opinions. And I’ve only been drinking a little bit, so I’m good to go!

Full review of Regents of the University of California v Superman after the jump.

[Warning: This review contains some spoilers but I do avoid majors ones.]



They kiss, but Batman remains distant and never calls or texts
Eighteen months following the defeat of General Zod and his Kryptonian forces Superman’s (Henry Cavill) presence on Earth has been met with division. While many people, including the general population of Metropolis, are grateful for his existence ( some even borderline worship him) many people have called his actions and presence on Earth into question. Meanwhile billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), who secretly fights crime in Gotham City as the “Bat of Gotham,” has become increasingly disturbed and paranoid over the alien superhero. Deciding that the mere threat of Superman using his massive power to overthrow humanity is enough to warrant action against him, Wayne begins preparing for war with the aim of killing the Man of Steel.

So if you want a quick indication as to whether or not you and I would get along in real life then ask yourself this question: did the last sentence of that plot synopsis make you say “Huh, that seems out of character for Batman?” If the answer is “No” then please continue enjoying your life. If the answer is “Yes” then we should hang out some time. Maybe get some milkshakes.

I’d say most of the key actors in the film did quite well. I have to eat my words about Ben Affleck because he does a good job at the tricky balance of playing Batman/”Party-Time” Bruce Wayne, to the point that I’m actually interested in seeing him in his own film (especially if he is directing it as he’s a great director). Ditto for Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, who I was extremely wary of due to her limited experience as an actress. She wasn’t in the movie all that much but what little she appeared in she was cool and made me super gung-ho about her upcoming flick. Jeremy Irons is good as Alfred but there’s not a whole lot to say about it since he doesn’t do a ton (also I kept subconsciously waiting for Alfred to sing to Batman about how he needed to “Be Prepared”).


Wonder Woman and, I dunno, her butlers or something
 Henry Cavill as Superman is the same dour, at times wooded, performance he was in Man of Steel so if you liked or disliked the first movie it’s just more of the same here. Indeed, of the Trinity (Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman) it’s easily the least interesting performance. Jesse Eisenberg is…interesting as Lex Luthor. Now I think for the most part his performance as the villain of the film is “okay”; it starts off really intriguing and then towards the end its kind off the rails for no real good reason. Overall it would have been fine for what this movie was. That said this guy is NOT Lex Luthor. At all. This dude has almost nothing in common with the character’s interpretation since the 1980s (or really, prior to that either). Here Lex is a billionaire, he’s (supposedly) super smart and he hates Superman due to his inherit distrust of an alien with that much power living among humans. Beyond that he’s missing most of the other traits associated with Lex, though seeing as the Clark Kent we see in this movie and Man of Steel don’t feel like Superman maybe that’s appropriate. Honestly I think the person we saw in this movie is closer to the Riddler; just have Jesse recite a few riddles and wear a little more green and it’s perfect.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t like the tone of this film. Superman is such a hopeful and lighthearted character that it feels wrong that he’s in a film series this dark. Its defining characteristic seems to be “joyless” and that shouldn’t be the defining characteristic of a damn Superman movie. Batman suffers from this a little bit as well, though as he’s a darker character in general it’s not nearly as annoying. As much as I like Affleck here I did not like anything the character did or said. He seemed like a murderous idiot for about 86% of the film, which are not traits I associate with Batman. Yes, I said murderous; Batman kills quite a few dudes in this movie and even shoots a few crooks, which is weird since in the comics Batman is probably the most outspoken hero about “not killing”. (And yes, I’m aware that Batman has killed people in several of his movies but I hate it every time. One of the reasons The Dark Knight is my favorite Batman movie is because that idea is such a big plot point) Everything feels more somber than I want to see in a superhero film.


From "The Dark Knight Returns"
The comic this movie takes so much inspiration from
This movie is f**king dull, which in my opinion is the biggest crime any action movie can commit. It felt like it took forty minutes for anything to actually happen and when it did it seemed like all the interesting bits happened in ten minutes bursts followed by half hours of me trying to find reasons to care about what as on the screen. The film is really long and the inclusion of tons of pointless scenes that go absolutely nowhere is the reason why (including silly cameos from the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg that literally did nothing for me). The writing feels mostly weak, which is pretty typical for a superhero film but without the sense of fun that also usually accompanies the genre it was a lot easier to notice the flaws in the writing. The film seems more concerned with setting up a franchise than making a good movie (which also happened with Avengers: Age of Ultron and The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and the film greatly suffers. It’s almost funny; I thought Man of Steel didn’t dip into the DC well enough and this felt like an overcompensation. Once again my words have come back to haunt me. Also this movie is full of Christ metaphors, so it can go away.

Bottom line is Korematsu v Superman is not a good movie. It is a bad movie. I did not enjoy watching it. It made me sad. It was too long, mostly dull, dubiously written, veered too far from what made the two main characters so cool and ultimately did not increase my interest level at most of the future movies it was advertising (Wonder Woman notwithstanding). Some people will tell you that complainers don’t like this movie because it’s not a Marvel movie. Those people are dumb because this flick isn’t bad because Iron Man isn’t in it; it’s bad because it was poorly made, end of story. Frankly, I think Zack Snyder is trying to bring about a Dark Age of Comic Based Movies; a darker, more violent era of superhero films. He’s like the artists and writers of the late-1980s in that he seems thinks The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen are the best and the brightly colored heroes of yore are dumb. Hopefully the critical failure of this movie will ensure a new Dark Age doesn’t happen.


I'm sorry I made negative assumptions, Gal Gadot
I'll see you next summer at the Wonder Woman flick
I give Batman v Wade 2 Adorable Pandas out of 5.



Pros 

-Looks good

-Has some good performances

Cons 

-Poorly written

-Poorly directed

-Dull

-Overly dark tone

-Filled with Christ metaphors

-Too much set-up for future films

-Has a really, really stupid title 

2 comments:

  1. love this movie!!

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    Alessa Bernal :)

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  2. Sorry spoiler-laden. You've been warned.


    Ugh this film had me feeling nauseous from the opening credits. Every possible opportunity to really explain why these characters were so emo was absent. Sure we had that bizarrely illogical death of Martha scene, but the transference of guilt to Superman simply doesn't work. Also, the Bats Give You Wings scene had me roflmao, which is probably not what the director had in mind? ^^;; Your analysis is spot on. This film was down-right awful and expecting us to sit through such a long film without building good characterization or acting is unconscionable. The only characters I got into were Lex and Wonder Woman and both were grievously flawed as well. The scene we needed where Lex's father is killed during the Superman attack (or really anything to set him up as unstable) was cut if ever planned. WWI i liked simply because her introduction takes you by surprise (i had forgotten she was supposed to be appearing in this film. Thanks patriarchy. -_-;;) and her early haphazard disconnected scenes act as a believable motivator. I also enjoyed the "I thought she was with you..." scene as it highlighted how completely out of touch and myopic the main characters were until that moment (which considering that was the climax begs the question why did i bother sitting through this film?) This film actually left me with the impression that Superman decided to fight Batman because... he likes to fight?! I think i'm done forever with comic book-inspired films.

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