Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Batman Vs Superman - Dawn of Bitching (a Ranting Review)

So many thoughts... where do I begin. I suppose I will start with the positives. I didn't hate Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. It's gotten a lot of bad reviews and I can see why in many cases. However, I set my expectations pretty low and as such I think I enjoyed it more than many others did.

Okay, that's not the best compliment really.

There were many things I really liked about BVS... which when I use those abbreviations I instantly think Buffy the Vampire Slayer. How about BvS... yeah, that's better. BvS had a lot of great fight sequences and action, which is a given for any Zack Snyder movie. Likewise, it was pretty visually sound. Good special effects, explosions, set designs...  stuff like that.

I thought Ben Affleck did a good job as Bruce Wayne and Batman. Many will disagree with this and they are entitled to their opinions. I think he brought a believable personality to a grizzled veteran Batman, bringing brooding and intensity where needed while able to pull off the occasional Bruce Wayne alter ego for appearances. I am speaking just for the portrayal, not the actions of the character... which I will get into later.

Gal Gadot's performance as Diana Prince AKA Wonder Woman was one of the bright spots of the film. She pulled off the mysterious woman part and brought a level of charisma to her alter ego. One of my favorite moments was when she was at Lex Luthor's gala and he is rambling on about how Prometheus stole fire from Zeus. Diana Prince rolls her eyes as if saying "Dude, I was there, that's not how it went down!" I don't know if that was intentional but I thought it was great.

Gadot especially shined as Wonder Woman. She wasn't in her armor for long in the film but it definitely left an impact. She brought a battle intensity and warrior. One of the best lines in the movie was when told Doomsday was from another world she replies "I've killed things from other worlds before." Just all nonchalantly. I also love when she was battling Doomsday, beyond her war cry and warrior approach to battle. I especially loved that part where she gets knocked away by the monster and she gets that grin like "finally a worthy opponent!"  It makes me excited for the Wonder Woman movie next year.

There were a few little things I liked. I like how they introduced Kryptonite. It makes it much more plausible that the stuff would be more available than the meteorite theory in the comics. I really liked how people's complaints about the extreme violence in Man of Steel was the driving force of the plot of BvS. That was clever. I also thought our 24-7 news cycle, (which by the way was also in The Dark Knight Returns, one of the inspirations of this movie), played a big part in the conveying public opinion and brought an interesting feel to their world. I did think it was weird, though, seeing real life newscasters like Anderson Cooper and Soledad O'Brien instead of DC news characters like Vicki Vale and Jack Ryder (aka The Creeper).

I will also say that the actually fight between Batman and Superman was pretty well done. It was brutal, yet methodical. I thought it was a better personification of such a battle than we would have actually gotten to be honest. Yes, an amoral Superman would kill Batman like nothing, but when Bruce gets a chance to plan ahead, all bets are off. It seemed pretty believable the way it went down.

Then we move on to some of the less good things about the movie. I'll start with a small one. For some reason it was shown that Metropolis and Gotham City are across a bay from each other. Um... no. They are close in the way that Philadelphia is close to New York City, but they're certainly not twin cities! It makes even less sense if you stop to consider how these cities would have formed. Most likely one, probably Gotham, would have had a booming population while the other was left smaller. At that point, Gotham would have likely absorbed Metropolis into it. At the very least you would have a Dallas-Fort Worth situation where one major city bleeds into the next. Like I said, small but I wanted to point it out.

As I feared, there was a lot going on in the movie. This at times felt way too much like Amazing Spider-man 2. BvS kept shouting out to everyone "HEY! We're making more movies! We're doing a Justice League movie! Hey! Check it out, a Justice League cameo!" The "meta human files" felt really forced. I would have much preferred to be introduced to Flash, Aquaman (or as we like to call him... Aqua-Drogo!) and Cyborg through films, not 30 second clips. It means Justice League will have that much more work to do in introducing a super fast kid, the King of Atlantis and a cybernetic guy... okay the last one isn't tough. But consider how much time we have to waste on them rather than developing the plot and villain.

 I am still unsure why Lex Luthor wanted Batman dead. Maybe he figured two birds with one stone. His reasoning with Superman made sense. Batman didn't seem like that big a deal to his world, the only connection between them was that terrorist Russian guy. 

Speaking of Lex Luthor, Jesse Eisenberg's performance was... interesting. I will admit that he wasn't as bad as I thought he'd be. He was actually pretty captivating on screen. However, this is not a Lex Luthor I would be intimidated by. This is Lex Luthor if he appeared in the Adam West Batman series! He was a conniving manipulator, but he never had any confidence.

Remember in Now You See Me when Jesse Eisenberg told Mark Ruffalo? "Always be the smartest guy in the room." That was more of a Lex Luthor moment than nearly anything I saw of him in BvS. I kept remembering Gene Hackman's amazing performances as Luthor in the older Superman films. This was a guy that was confident that he was the smartest guy in the room. He wasn't a babbling, mumbling all over the place weirdo. When he said he was the greatest criminal mastermind the world has ever known, you'd believe it! I kept hoping that Eisenberg's wacky performance was just a Trojan Horse, that he's pull out a Kaiser Soze moment and suddenly reveal himself as someone truly threatening... it never happened. He had a good plan and some good moments, but I could never take him seriously.

Yes, I am holding firm to my belief that Ultron from last year's Avengers movie made for a better Lex Luthor than Jesse Eisenberg!

There was one major problem that I had with the film is that Batman is kind of a hypocrite. This goes beyond Bat-fleck using guns, which is an extremely strict no-no for the character. Batman accuses Superman of being careless and reckless, using his God-like powers as he pleases at the potential catastrophic detriment of mankind, as evidenced by the end battle with General Zod. The only problem is that in BvS, Batman repeatedly causes copious amounts of collateral damage in his vigilante pursuits. In one scene he is chasing down a secret LexCorp delivery of Kryptonite, during which he lays waste to vehicles and buildings, pretty much anything in his way, to get what he wants... and yes, this includes killing a lot of bad guys.

Near the end of the movie, he lures Doomsday over to Gotham City! He's seen the amount of damage the monster can do, but he thinks it is a good idea to bring the monster toward a populated area. I understand he was trying to retrieve the Kryptonite spear to try to kill it, but he could have had someone else get it and bring it to him! See, the whole using your powers responsibly goes both ways. Batman doesn't have powers, but he has a hell of a lot of weapons and vehicles which compensate and sometimes exceeds the abilities of those with super powers.

Warning: You are now entering the Spoiler Zone! If you haven't seen BvS yet, you might want to stop reading NOW!

About Bruce's dream... I get it was supposed to be some kind of foreshadowing, but it was just an incoherent mess. Watching the movie, I wasn't sure if it was meant to be prophetic or just Bruce's warped paranoid vision of the future. Though seeing those parademons was awesome... they look cool.

Then I guess he was visited by the Flash... I think? I assume it was and most others do as well, but he didn't look like any Flash I had ever seen! Is that going to be his costume for Justice League? I'm confused.

So Lex adding his blood to Zod's corpse made Doomsday? That means that if Superman and Lois Lane ever had a child, it would be a horrible monster, right? Yes, I know the ship had the rejuvenation thing or whatever that was, but the fundamental building blocks of the "abomination" were human DNA spliced with Kryptonian. I'm just saying...

Just as Batman is about to deal the fatal blow to Superman, he exclaims that "They're going to kill Martha!" I get that they wanted to connect Bruce and Clark to unite them, but why wouldn't Superman have said "They're going to kill my mom!" Why at that moment did he call her by her real name? I call bullshit on that!

As for how it ended... I have gotten the feeling that Warner Bros. has wanted to kill Superman for a while. Before Superman Returns their was talk of doing a movie of The Death of Superman. Even Superman Returns teased killing him. So I guess they've finally done it. Kind of an odd way to start the Justice League franchise.

Why does Martha Kent have Clark's funeral at her house... does Smallville not have a funeral home? That is such an outdated custom. And... okay, I have to say it... bagpipes? Really? Why bagpipes? Kent doesn't strike me as a Scottish last name. It just struck me as weird for some reason.

Lastly, Jonny and I hope that they are setting up Darkseid to be the bad guy in Justice League (it is heavily implied). We think Darkseid may resurrect Superman and if so, he could be the bad guy of the Justice League Part 1... like the Elseworlds story Dark Side Superman! That would be awesome!

So in closing, I don't think BvS is as bad as many reviews would suggest. It was entertaining. It could have benefitted from more humor. Lex Luthor as your main source of comic relief is weird. The biggest problem I see with the movie is that in a film where the characters are trying to find their humanity, the movie itself has little humanity within.

I am getting a general impression of Zack Snyder's DC movie universe. It's bleak, dark, extremely violent and full of superheroes that frankly don't give a shit. Batman freely brands criminals or outright kills his enemies with guns. Superman, who doesn't seem to give a fuck about Truth, Justice and the American Way, is willing to risk the lives of countless people if Lois is at risk. Wonder Woman would rather go into exile for nearly a century than fight to bring peace to the warring world of man. I fret to see how dark Flash and Aquaman's films are.

It's a huge contrast to the Marvel films. Marvel's movies feel like they are set in our world. The characters tend to feel real. Superman and Batman feel like archetypes that are always bogged down in their own drama. The key here is that Marvel films don't to take themselves too seriously.  It allows them more wiggle room in their own epic story as well as the potential for humor. Not everything can or should be the serious, dark tone of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. Warner Brothers, Zack Snyder and David Goyer need to reevaluate how their universe is perceived because in the end, we're talking about comic book characters... it's escapism, not realism.

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