Categories
Movies Review

Movie Review – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

The elephant in the room, right?  Yes, I saw BvS: DoJ.  I don’t hate it, but there hasn’t been a comic book movie that’s ever elicited a wider range of reactions from me.  For every cool moment or visual, there are long stretches where my only reaction is a sigh or eyeroll or double facepalm.  Let me break down what I loved and hated with the film.

Loved:

  • Ben Affleck as Batman – For all the doubters, he actually makes a fine Batman.  Handles the fight scenes well, and can pull off Bruce Wayne as well.
  • Jeremy Irons as Alfred – The grumpy voice of reason in Bruce’s ear.  Not sure why he couldn’t still be the butler but he works.
  • Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman – So stunning and fierce.  Loved that they worked in both the wristbands and the lasso.  Can’t wait to see her movie, especially since it’s away from Zack Snyder’s influence and we may get some compassion from Diana.
  • Solid action and effects – Love Batman’s fights, though the actual Batman v Superman part may be the weakest.
  • The music – I’m not music critic, but it was good.  Not distracting and fit the scenes.

Hated:

  • Batman sure dreams a lot – Not only does the death of the Waynes shown at the beginning of the film segue into some weird dream where young Bruce falls into the future Batcave, and get lifted out by flying bats (really), but he has a nightmare about totalitarian Superman later too.  These may be related to the Flash’s attempt to time travel with some dire warning for Bruce but even that is hard to understand.
  • Plot holes – Every comic book has plot holes, and so do their movies.  Most can be overlooked or explained away fairly easy, but there’s one here that still bugs me, and it’s something a lot of other Batman movies screw up.  At one point during Bruce’s investigations, he uncovers a link to Lex Luthor via what he thinks is a person referred to as the “White Portuguese”.  It turns out the White Portuguese is actually a ship.  Not a secret ship, or a renamed ship, it’s got that name on the side in 15 foot high letters.  Does the Batcave not have Google?  Even the little pissant ships that come to Buffalo to the grain silos have webpages dedicated to them.  Batman, the World’s Greatest Detective, star of Detective Comics.  UGH.
  • Lex Luthor – I get it, they wanted to do something a little different with Lex.  I’d even agree that a young Lex/old Bruce dynamic where they are known to each other as business rivals could work.  But the weird mincing and preening mannerisms, the barefoot genius act (oh, basketball in the lobby of his headquarters), all it does it manage to take his few menacing moments and offset them with the dumb.
  • Doubling down on what we hated in Man of Steel – Really, Zack, we didn’t need another of Clark’s parents telling him to maybe not be a hero.  If you are going to play up the dead parent angst with Bruce, why Superman too?  Instead of letting us move on and forget about the whole “maybe you shouldn’t help people Clark” they bring it up again.  Same thing with the destruction angle.  In no less than three places during fights Snyder goes out of his way to have someone mention ‘that place is deserted’, ‘the business district is empty now’, what have you.  It misses the point that those of us who complained about the death and destruction were making.  It’s not that it was happening, it’s that the film didn’t show Superman trying to stop it.  It would’ve been much better to still have people there, but show Clark saving some of them.  Zod smashes a building, Clark holds it up long enough for those trapped to get out, or he takes an extra beating to distract the Kryptonians so a bus can get off a bridge.  The way it’s handled here feels like Snyder and the writers saying “SEE, I SAID THERE’S NO PEOPLE TO GET KILLED THERE, SATISFIED???”.
  • We meet the Justice League via email? – Bruce hacks Lexcorp and finds information on other ‘metahumans’ and sends it to Diana.  We are literally shown Cyborg, The Flash and Aquaman via video clips embedded in an email.  At least Cyborg and Aquaman look cool.
  • Doomsday still dumb – Doomsday was a dumb villain when he ‘killed’ Superman in the comics, still dumb now.  Guessing they didn’t want to do Luthor in a powersuit battling directly since they already put Batman in a suit like that to fight Superman.
  • Super Slo-Mo – A Snyder staple, overused here to ridiculous levels.  Particularly egregious during the death of the Waynes.
  • Speaking of the Waynes dying – Snyder’s version of the scene is particularly painful.  By having Thomas Wayne fight back, it changes the whole dynamic…who knows if he even gets shot without it?  The pearls snapped by the gun so they could drop to the ground, an excuse to show pearls fall to the ground in slow motion.  Compare it to Batman Begins where it all happens so fast, it feels like a real robbery gone wrong.  AND it introduces us to Gordon, the one good cop in Gotham.  It had meaning to the movie and the future of Batman.  Here, it means nothing except setting up Bruce and Clark bonding over having mothers named MARTHAAAAAAAA.

Now that sounds like a lot of negatives, but I did like parts of the film.  Cut out the dream sequences, and the needless Lois in peril subplot and you’d have a solid 1hr 45min superhero movie.  Not great but a better base to work from.  The idea that they want to ADD 30 minutes to this is mind-boggling.

Categories
Comics Movies TV

Stop making Batman v Superman about Marvel versus DC

If there’s a thing in comics fandom I hate right now it’s this adversarial tone a lot of the chatter takes on nowadays.  A spirited debate is fun, no doubt, but this isn’t that, it’s just angry people shouting at each other.  It’s there in sports now, video games, even politics.  There are certain groups who cling desperately to their ‘thing’, and that other ‘thing’?  You’re the most vile piece of trash not fit for life for liking it!  UGH.  And some of the media outlets support this sort of binary thinking – they encourage it, basking in the clicks and not caring that they make discourse demonstrably worse.  Take this article in the NY Post that made the rounds yesterday, provocatively titled ‘Batman v Superman’ is too smart for Marvel fans.  In it, Kyle “Women are not capable of understanding Goodfellas” Smith posits that Marvel fans’ intelligence levels are low:

This dimension lends the film a gravity and level of interest that places it at the opposite end of the spectrum from such sophomoric Marvel movies as “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Deadpool.” All three feature brainless, low-stakes action that’s as interesting as watching a waiter fall down the stairs while carrying a tray of dishes;

While I love a good pratfall (Pratt-fall?) as much as the next guy, you’ll notice he singles out a couple of things from the Marvel canon, as if only Guardians and AoU represent the MCU.  As I read that, I pictured Mr. Smith as Anton Ego in Ratatouille, sitting in his coffin-shaped room, ready to eviscerate Marvel for releasing a movie that has the audacity to be ‘fun’.  Where is The Winter Soldier on his ‘spectrum’?  TWS may be the perfect comic book movie in that it isn’t really a comic book movie.  It’s a spy thriller that just happens to star Cap, Natasha and Nick Fury.  The first Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Jessica Jones, Daredevil…none of those represent Marvel, because it doesn’t fit Smith’s ‘us versus them’ narrative.

Ratatouille coffin

We need to stop letting the media gleefully hammer on the wedges that are splitting us apart.  There’s no reason we can’t like BOTH The Avengers and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  But even if you don’t like a thing, it doesn’t make the people who DO like it stupid.  Let’s be better than that.  Comic book fans were marginalized, looked down upon for so long, now that we are finally getting our day in the pop culture spotlight we shouldn’t turn on each other, we should be celebrating.  DC fans, you are FINALLY getting your Justice League movie!  Marvel fans, you get the freaking Infinity Gauntlet!  Don’t stomp on something just because it’s too dark/gritty/goofy/noisy or whatever.  We can be better than this.  Build, don’t tear down.