- Loving Film
- Weekly Features
- Other Features
- Review Index
- Rating System
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
|By Sati.||Tuesday, March 29, 2016||2016, B, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, drama, fantasy, movies, review, Zack Snyder|
How about I'll give BvS praise for at least its opening sequence, which was well done. The movie begins with a funeral (and what follows for the next 150 minutes is basically only slightly less depressing) intertwined with the well known scene of Bruce falling down the hole and encountering dozens of bats and the scene where Bruce's parents are killed (The Waling Dead's Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan - also, starting this Sunday, from The Walking Dead - but perhaps crucially from Snyder's own Watchman. I cannot find other explanation for quite well known, charismatic actor to show up in one scene just to get shot in uncredited appearance - even if it's Morgan who has the habit of playing doomed characters - other than Snyder calling him up for a favor. Especially that Patrick Wilson and Carla Gugino, also from Watchmen, are also in the movie, or should I say their voices are - he plays the President and she voices the Kryptonian ship. I mean Jesus Christ...Snyder cannot even use fucking cameos right.).
The scene is at least, in terms of audiovisual side, well done - Hans Zimmer/Junkie XL's soundtrack is particularly gorgeous in the moment, Batfleck's pompous lines actually fit here, one of the few moments when the films impossible duologue (no one speaks like this in real life) does, and the visuals, particularly the barrel of a gun wrapped in Bruce's mother pearl necklace are very strong.
But it's all downhill from there and unlike Bruce, there is no swarm of bats to lift us from this pit of Zack Snyder's lack of talent (and clearly adult supervision) fueled madness.
You probably heard by now that BvS is joyless, boring, overwrought and disjointed. It's all true. I am always mesmerized when a movie this long (143 minutes sans end credits) manages to be both underdeveloped and overstuffed in terms of story. The film has a whole bunch of subplots - Lois' inexplicable quest after, I am not even sure what, Batman deciding Superman is the enemy because there is a slight chance he may turn against human race and Bruce has prophetic dreams or flashes of future or whatever, Superman having a crisis of whether he should still save the humanity because 1. people are ungrateful shits 2. one dude blows himself up, Lex Luthor doing shady shit, just because, and the obligatory world building moments where Bruce and Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman (a spark in this darkness) are becoming aware that there are other heroes out there. Only that last sub plot was not embarrassing to witness (bar one scene I'll get back to) because you have foolish hope maybe they will get someone other than Snyder to direct those other movies.
As you no doubt realize all those subplots sound kinda stupid but even when something sounds stupid there is always a chance with the right writers, it can be salvaged. But that movie is just schizophrenic. It's like for every plot there is a flimsy reasoning and a backup flimsy reasoning just in case the first one fails. The central conflict between Superman and Batman is so hastily written you genuinely wonder how could anyone write a script this weak. The idea that Batman would like to stop Superman because he has infinite power and perhaps no one should have a power like that is good but it's not developed at all in this movie. Batman sees the destruction of one of his buildings and wants revenge - fine. But he doesn't stop to ask himself just how many people Superman saved from the aliens? None of the motivations of the main characters regarding this conflict make any sense because none of them would make sense if they stopped and actually used their brains.
There is a back up reason the writers provided in case you, and how dare you when the first one is so sophisticated, doesn't buy the first one - Lex Luthor tricked them into fighting. Why? Who knows. Because. And if you think it cannot get better dumber just wait till you get to the infamous Martha scene. I literally couldn't believe my ears and eyes.
What doesn't help the narrative is that there is a bunch of other things. Good things, but things that only add to the movie feeling chaotic - Holly Hunter injects the film with charisma as the senator eager to hold Superman responsible for his actions. Laurence Fishbourne, Diane Lane (the film, just like Man of Steel, again tries to hide what an attractive woman she is, shoving her into 'mother' role which is ageist, gross and unnecessary) and Jeremy Irons all do what they can with this material which given that the material is atrocious, is not much. Amy Adams is given nothing worth of her talents to do and when she shouted "It's his mother's name" I thought she may have to crawl through a forest to gain another Academy Award nomination in the future to make people forget that embarrassment she just participated in. Kevin Costner shows up in a pointless and dumb scene and Michael Shannon is used in a thankless, wordless cameo where he is drinking Jesse Eisenberg's blood or something. Someone save us from Zack Snyder, please.
You know, I remember one time I mentioned how I don't think Jesse Eisenberg should have got his Academy Award nomination for The Social Network because he is a one trick pony. I got a comment from some disgruntled fan of his shouting how talented Eisenberg is. I'd like this person to try and defend what he is doing here, I really would. That the casting of Eisenberg was awful is one thing. But that he is just cranking it up to 11 and delivers a work so cringe worthy you almost feel embarrassed for him, is on him. See since making that comment about him being a one trick pony I saw him in The End of Tour so I know that when he tones it down he can act. But whatever he was doing in BvS was just terrible. He would be better suited for The Riddler, in fact he acts as if he IS The Riddler only he really isn't. It's just...not good.
Then we have Cavill who looks like he is constantly smelling a fart and wondering who is responsible for it. Cavill was fine in Man of Steel where he managed to be likable and coasted on his looks but let me stress that - BvS is much worse than Man of Steel. The man has the charisma of a potato, he is very good looking (in a pretty boy, boring kind of a way) but so what? Snyder desperately tries to capitalize on that by having him jump into a bathtub with Lois Lane and then cook while being shirtless but what Snyder doesn't understand about women is the same thing he doesn't understand about movie fans - we need more than just something to stare at. We need substance, which there was a bit of in previous film and there is none here. Cavill doesn't have an ounce of charisma and very little talent and the writing for his character doesn't help at all. Throughout majority of the film because of poor casting and script I felt like I was watching Cavill and Affleck (but that is all on the script and not his fault) playing co-splay in Wrestlemania or something. Affleck rarely feels like iconic Batman and Cavill never feels like iconic Superman. It's just two guys in costumes joylessly beating each other up.
Affleck does much better than Cavill, in many moments giving us the best Batman to date. His Wayne and Batman are both psychologically damaged (Snyder shows this by employing ridiculous dream sequences and cheap visual tricks) and brutal. When he is on his own the film actually has some energy, but when Cavill joins him on the screen the movie flat lines again. It's a big shame that they didn't simply make a standalone Batman film. Even if Snyder directed that one too, I cannot imagine it would turned worse than BvS.
Some things just happen here - at one point Lois Lane finds herself carrying a Kryptonian spear and decides to throw it into water for absolutely no reason at all. Then for absolutely no reason at all she tries to retrieve it (how could she know that gigantic monster was Kryptonian? She couldn't.). Things in this movie just happen and it is so in your face pointless and shamelessly not justified at all even if you try not to ask yourself why it's all happening, you still notice the glaring holes in the story.
The climatic fight between the two is a disaster - there is no urgency, no danger, no tension. The heroes don't fight for reasons that would make you convince one of them may actually die - the whole conflict part is grossly underwritten, the whole Luthor/Martha part is something you keep waiting to be brought up so that Snyder can justify not actually resolving the fight (though it's clear Snyder prefers Batman). On top of that it's just unpleasant to watch. It's not cool or fun, it's not even inspired - Batman throws some Kryptonian farts at Superman and beats him up. That's it. It made me feel a bit depressed to see those two beloved iconic characters just mercilessly hurt each other. Let's hope no one brings their kids to this joyless and kinda blasphemous train wreck.
There are worse things in here, though - Doomsday appearing is absolutely pointless, the whole finale act probably outdid Return of the King for the longest strain of boring endings in the cinematic history and the final shot of the film is just insulting to the viewer. It's like for 15 minutes you know what's going to happen and they stick the dumbest shot possible and you go "yep, it happened", and all those dream sequences were just superfluous to the plot - a more skilled team of writers wouldn't need those. But by far the worst thing in this entire movie is the first cameo by Flash who comes back from the future or something to warn Bruce about...something. That scene is so cringe worthy, pointless, so poorly done and impossibly idiotic it belongs in Batman & Robin. It really, really does. And I kinda have a feeling I actually insulted Batman & Robin right now.
And the whole thing looks awful. Snyder's dark, joyless and gritty idea for visuals is fine but it just looks under-lit and ugly most of the time. It clashes with the shiny costumes and - what was probably intended as - extravagant CGI. It's a mess, both in narrative and in the look of the movie. Just look at Ayer's Suicide Squad - even in the trailer you get some flawlessly composed shots like Joker laughing surrounded by weapons or him and Harley in the tank of acid. There is not a single standout shot in Batman v Superman except for some nice visual treats in opening and ending sequences and the first in-costume appearance of Wonder Woman. But those are more clever/iconic moments than they are a sign of cinematographer really using the potential of the movie.
The film truly works only when Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman is on the screen - she has only few minutes of screen time, but it makes a big impact. From her very first appearance at Lex Luthor's party to her badass entrance mid-battle Gadot steals the film from the more well known characters and actors. Even the scene where Bruce merely sees the picture of her on the computer is so much better than everything else here.
It is in big part thanks to the character herself - genuinely good person fighting for justice who thanks to the spark Gadot gives her character is very interesting and mysterious. While the costume designers stuck Gadot inn sexy dresses and revealing outfits, she never feels like just a sex object or femme fatale who wants to use Bruce. She feels like a superheroine in her own right, as smart as she is beautiful and as kind as she is alluring. Gadot also seems like the only person in this movie who is actually having fun - the smirk she gives Doomsday after he hits her is priceless. And hats off to Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL - her music theme with tribal drums and bitchin' electric guitar is just fantastic.
I really hope we will finally see good DC movie, other than Nolan flicks. I prefer DC to Marvel - for me Marvel is always overstuffed and more focused on setting up the future movies than focusing on the one they are actually making at the moment. It isn't nearly as dark and complex as DC is, especially its villains. So with so many incredible villains in Batman comic books why not use one but go for generic Doomsday for Superman? Why make this movie first instead of doing Batman standalone flick? Why give Zack Snyder who time and time again proved he is a lousy director the job? I really hope Suicide Squad is good. Sticking Batman in a bad movie is bad. But sticking The Joker and Harley Quinn in one that awful would be a disaster.
score - 37/100
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
(2016, 151 min)
Plot: Fearing that the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the Man of Steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs.
Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: Chris Terrio, David S. Goyer
Stars: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams