Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

By Sati. Tuesday, March 29, 2016 , , , , , , ,

Where to begin?

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

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22 comments:

  1. Oy vey. I didn't think you'd hate it this much, but I give you snaps for even choosing to see it. I'm skipping this one. A good friend of mine was actually a creative consultant on this movie, and while things should have fleshed out well, they didn't. Why? Zack Snyder.

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    1. Yeah I mean I had to see if it was this terrible, while it's not one of those movies that you think are just awful like, I don't know...Knock Knock, it's definitely boring and awfully written

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  2. "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."

    Amen to this! What a mess this movie is. I did like what I saw of Wonder Woman, but I had the same problem with her you touched on with some of the others. I have no idea why the hell she's there. She doesn't live in Metropolis so what the hell is she there for? That's a writers problem, not a Gadot problem. Btw, a lot of those random moments and dream sequences were all set ups for future movies. So they're guilty of the same thing as the Marvel flicks. Hell, even worse because they tried to do everything in one damn movie. Great review.

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    1. She was there....because Lex had a photo of her. I mean I really can't with that script....she just happens to be there for a photo and that shit goes down and she somehow knows to get out of the plane because Supes and Batfleck will need her to win this thing.

      Yep but Marvel is slightly worse in that they have shorter set up moments but they are sprinkled throughout all of their movies so you are being bombarded with easter eggs every few minutes, it annoys me so much :/

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  3. Fair review Sati, I can get behind a lot of the points you make here. I might not have thought it was as big a disaster as you, but I have to admit - it's pretty darn bad. But like you said - Affleck and Gadot make it bearable.

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    1. If only they just made a standalone Batfleck movie instead...

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  4. So, should we take turns in beating up Zack Snyder?

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    1. I'm sure DC fanboys will do it for us :)

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  5. Hehehehe, I love reading your rants, they make me laugh. This sounds so laughably bad, and I already dislike superhero movies. HOWEVER, I am looking forward to Suicide Squad, that is the final chance I give the genre.

    I am looking at the (very limited) selection of films to go see right now, and I reckon I'll choose 'Zootopia' over this garbage

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    1. Yeah I heard Zootopia is very good, I can bet it will be better than this and time and money better spent :)

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  6. Yeah, I'm waiting for the DVD on this one. There's nothing attractive sounding. I'm disappointed to hear Eisenberg is so bad too because I'm a fan of his, but I figured he might be based on the trailer alone.

    I've never been crazy about Wonder Woman, but I hope this changes my mind a bit.

    I have really low expectations for Suicide Squad as well, minus Harley who looks amazing. I'm hoping it can be better. Even though I prefer Marvel to DC, I don't want DC to fail because Batman is my favorite. I'm not sure if I'll ever like Batman better than what Nolan did with it, but I'm always open to it.

    Great review! and lol at Maggie and Negan being Bruce's parents, considering what Negan is about to do to Maggie's world.

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    1. Yeah he is just awful....most of it is writing and directing but he seriously doesn't even try. They are all to blame for that ridiculous portrayal of Luthor

      I wasn't a big fan of what Bale did, he wasn't angry enough on the screen which is something Affleck portrayed well but Bale had the privilege of being in MUCH better movies

      Thank you! I'm still not sure that things go just like they did in comics this Sunday!

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  7. I LOVE your review Margaret and of course I agree w/ all of it! WOW I had no idea Patrick Wilson and Carla Cugino did some voice work in this movie, but man Jeffrey Dean Morgan was so criminally wasted… yeah deliver us from Snyder please! There's a petition to remove him from DCEU and I would sign it in a heartbeat, though they probably find another hack to replace him.

    "Then we have Cavill who looks like he is constantly smelling a fart and wondering who is responsible for it." Mwahahaha! I tell you, he's never been so unsexy than in this movie, the shirtless scene did the opposite effect to me.

    I do like the score better here, thanks to Junkie XL's involvement!

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    1. Thank you! I am just baffled as to why they let Snyder direct after MoS. I am going to be seriously surprised if he really is going to direct Justice League movies. i mean BvS is gonna have a huge drop in the box office this weekend, WB would be crazy to let Snyder direct another movie

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  8. Oh gods, Lois and the Spear of Destiny. Everybody in the theater was laughing at that the most.

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  9. I too prefer DC to Marvel, so this really saddens me. Gal and Ben deserved a better movie. I don't include Cavill in that sentence b/c I feel like he should have been replaced. I've said before that he has Dornan-level acting problems at times. He's not there yet, but he doesn't have the charisma that one needs for Superman. He is pretty though, I'll give him that.

    I can't even...on Eisenberg. How...why... what?

    I would have much preferred to see a stand alone Batfleck film NOT DIRECTED BY SYNDER. I still can't believe tptb gave Synder $400 million to play with? Have they seen Sucker Punch?

    I really am so sad for Gal and Ben. I'm looking forward to Suicide Squad. If the trailers are any indication, Suicide Squad will be better than BvS. I really hope WB gets rid of Synder. That would solve a lot of problems.

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    1. WB is truly making such puzzling decisions....I think we will find out in few days just how dumb they are - Justice League is supposed to start shooting next week, if they still let Snyder do this then they are doomed. I keep hoping there is gonna be an announcement that he was replaced

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  10. Nice review. I think I definitely had a better time with it but I cannot, with the right conscience say it was a good movie. I thought it had its moments which were overshadowed by moments of incredible levels of stupidity. It barely ahd any structure. And I agree, Eisenberg was pretty terrible. But on the plus side, I enjoyed a lot especially Affleck's Batman which is probably why I thought it was okay, despite having some awful stuff in there.

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    1. Thank you! Yeah Affleck's performance was one of the few things here that worked, but it's a shame such a dreadful movie surrounded it

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  11. Yes! There was about four or five times I was ready to get up to leave the cinema and discovered that it wasn't the end. As a film it is just a mess, and I agree that Henry Cavill is built like a tank but god he's dull.

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    1. Yes they really needed at least a bit charismatic actor for that part and Cavill has absolutely zero charisma

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