Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)


Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Laurence Fishburn, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter

As a movie buff, I’ve never liked it when people hate a movie intensely before it is released. Sure, a film can show signs of being a stinker just by looking at the trailer, but it is my belief that every movie should be given a chance (well, almost every movie) before you decide to pour every ounce of hatred upon it. A recent example of this is the new Ghostbusters movie set to be released this summer 2016. As the trailer played before Batman vs. Superman, I heard actual audience members boo at the screen. Sure these aren’t the original Ghostbusters, but what’s with the immediate hatred without having seen the film? They can’t base their hatred on a three second trailer! Is it because they are women? Is it because it’s not the original cast? I don’t exactly know, but there they were, booing at the screen to a movie they have not seen yet. Case in point, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) a film that audiences came in hating from day one. Again, I decided to give the film a fighting chance, to prove itself to me. How was it?


The premise for Batman vs. Superman is that the world now sees Superman as more of a threat than a protector. His fight with general Zod in Man of Steel (2013) caused many deaths, and so now people don’t trust him, in fact, they’re thinking that if something should push him off the deep end someday, he might actually make the entire planet disappear! Lex Luthor is one of these people who sees Superman as a threat, so he orchestrates a way to get Batman and Superman to fight, so that Batman can kill Superman and therefore wipe the threat from Luthor’s mind. Will Batman have what it takes to go up against the Son of Krypton?


Now if you ask me, all the hatred comes simply because its cool to hate a big budget movie that stars Ben Affleck, an actor whose career seemed to be in an inevitable downward spiral after he starred in a string of bad movies like Daredevil (2003) and Gigli (2003). But that was all left behind when he vindicated himself by directing and winning a couple of Oscars for Argo (2012), suddenly he was on the proverbial comeback. Gigli was finally left behind in the dust like some long lost fuzzy memory. But apparently, people still associate Affleck with failure, because his casting as Batman is one of the many things that people immediately draw upon to bad mouth Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). Good thing about Affleck is that he’s resilient, he hasn’t given up. He figures it’s all about making good movies, good scripts and good solid performances, which is exactly what he’s been sticking to lately, and its worked. To me he has more than demonstrated he’s a good writer/director/actor, a multi talented individual. And he’s awesome as Batman in my book, in fact, I personally dig his Batman more than Christian Bales, who always seemed kind of like a half crazed Batman. Affleck’s plays him more like a cool, calculated businessman.


The film itself is a bit unbalanced, because it doesn't stick to one story line, it leaves some threads hanging, and starts others up. I don't mind seeing hints at future plot lines, because Marvel movies have been doing the exact same thing in their movies for years and nobody seemed to complaint then. DC/Warner Brothers is simply applying that successful cliffhanger formula to their movies, what’s the big deal? Is there a double standard with using this formula? Its okay for Marvel to do it, but not for DC? I frown upon that and say that it’s cool that DC movies are giving us small glimpses of things to come within their cinematic universe, which in my book is vast and unexplored. But I do agree the film needed a bit more focus. Follow through with what you propose with your plot lines. What happened to the whole story line about the world feeling Superman is a threat? What are the governments of the world gonna do about it and why aren't they taking action? This story line wasn't followed through, and then they introduce Doomsday and Flash and Cyborg and Aquaman. Still, even with these flaws, fan boys were eating up this movie. I know it, because I felt the wave of awe when the geeks (myself included) got a glimpse of these visages of the future. People actually cheered and clapped when Wonder Woman first appears! So naysayers, don’t hate this movie for hates sake. Sure it's got flaws, but I had a blast with this movie anyways!


It’s both a Superman film and a Batman film, both get equal screen time, both get explored. I mention this because I read complaints that the film is more about Batman than Superman, but I do not agree with these comments either, in my book both characters get the exposition they deserve. Superman is seen as more of a threat than a savior! When had we seen that story line played out in a Superman movie? Never! Superman is seen as a god like figure, who can either be our benefactor or totally annihilate us if he chose to, a concept explored by Alan Moore and Zack Snyder through the character of Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen (2009). So in a way, this is Zack Snyder revisiting some concepts he’d explored before. Actually, this whole idea of the superhero suddenly turning into a threat to humanity rather than a savior seems to be the hot ticket in Hollywood, Captain America: Civil War (2016) will apparently explore the same themes, with Captain American being seen as a threat to humanity, because of all the destruction he’s caused. Suddenly, Captain America: Civil War doesn’t seem so original. But whatever, something tells me that will be an awesome movie anyways. I just wish Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice had explored this plot further, to its full measure, instead this idea is only half explored.



Just so you know, what the writers behind Batman vs. Superman did was they took parts of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and mashed it up with parts of The Death of Superman story line, primarily issue #75 of Superman. I kept seeing elements and images from both of these story lines popping up, so you might want to give those two story lines a look. Finally, I even liked Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, he was a formidable villain.  He has no super powers, but he knew exactly what buttons to push in order to get the ball rolling. Sure he’s maybe a bit to jokey, but that’s Eisenberg's own personal take on the character. I have a feeling we’ll see this villain evolve into a serious threat in the upcoming films. Finally, I’m looking forward to the growth of the DC cinematic universe. I had a blast with Batman vs. Superman, loved how it mixed its serious tone with the exaggerated antics we’ve come to expect from a comic book movie. Naysayers are hating for hates sake, pay no mind to them and go see this fun slice of comic book cinema, warts and all.

Rating: 4 out of 5   


8 comments:

Aida Santos said...

I actually enjoy the movie. People said it was confusing but I don't think it was. Well I won't say they don't know crap cause they are not fans but they don't know crap, cause they saw the movie cause is a trend. There was a part that I almost scream! Something about flashpoint paradox! Amazing! You said you heard people say they saw more bata than supes, well i've heard otherwise. I didn't like Lex but I think I have a theory of why he was kind of "joker rip off" but I didn't mind the movie was good and Wonder Woman! Ufff!

Francisco Gonzalez said...

Eisenberg's Lex Luthor is a different take on the character, Eisenberg obviously infused the character with his own personality, but I liked that he was a strong villain, he actually makes Superman kneel to him, he actually had Supes "bend to his will", that made him a powerful villain in my book. I think it's just a matter of getting used to another actor playing the character, the same goes for Affleck as Batman. The same thing happened when they cast Keaton as Batman, it took getting used to. It's up to the filmmakers/actors to convince us, I think they did a good job of it.

Agree about Wonder Woman, she was a showstopper, my favorite scene involved her using her lasso, that was so cool. I hope the rest of the DC Universe movies are as good, looking forward to seeing this universe unfold. Upnext is the Wonder Woman, Flash and Aquaman movies, then Justice League. Wow, that's a lot of superheroes!

Thanks for your comments Aida!

Aida Santos said...

He as Lex is like Samoa as Aquaman no one (including me) picture him as it. But hey maybe he'll do a great job. I need to see that damn movie again, i couldn't enjoy it much i was pretty uncomfortable in the theatre but i like it anyways. If i see it again I might see more.

No problem man. It was a really good review.

P.S. that new Ghostbusters movie it's going to be amazing! I laugh so hard. And i love those actresses.

Francisco Gonzalez said...

I hope you're right about that new Ghostbusters, I sure as hell am willing to give it a chance.

Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Fran

I have not seen this film. I'm not particularly fond of the superhero genre films but I enjoyed your review and I love that you went against the grain to express the highlights the film has to offer.

What I am is a Snyder fan. The guy is constantly under attack and I really have enjoyed his films particularly Sucker Punch and Watchmen.

I also want to note that despite almost universally negative reviews I respect your opinion and a few others out here in the world of genuine written analysis. If there is one thing writers in the blogosphere do it's offer honesty. They don't phone it in or stay on script to nail a movie (This one or FF or anything Shymalan) or praise one (like SW:TFA). Writers offer important points that are often omitted from the puff pieces out there. So hats off to you.

My teenage son is another opinion I respect. He wasn't a fan of the new Star Wars, like me, and he plays the video games and does enjoy that franchise. He wasn't a huge fan of Edwards Godzilla film like me. Now I haven't seen this film, but he came home and he said, "Dad, that film isn't the bad film they're saying it is. I quite enjoyed it." So there you have it, a teenage opinion who can be discerning.

So it was great to see your review and a nice articulate backing of a Snyder film. The guy deserves better.

Francisco Gonzalez said...

I completely agree with you on the Snyder bashing, I think the guy makes entertaining commercial films, they are pop corn films, and in this respect they deliver exactly what they should, a spectacle, a fun time at the movies. Plus, he's stylish, he loves coolness, he knows what fan boys love to see in a movie. I personally think Watchmen is so incredibly underrated, I recently rewatched it and loved it I think maybe more than when I first saw it. It's just that when it becomes a thing to hate somebody, then like hive minded individuals, some reviewers start hating for hates sake, not because they actually have an opinion.

Thanks for the kind words dude, I respect your opinion as well, and I agree on what bloggers have to offer in terms of film reviews, we say what we truly feel cause we aint go nothing to lose.

Cybolic said...

I didn't hate the film and I certainly didn't find it confusing (I really don't understand that complaint), but I did take issue with it.
The overall plotline was good, the performances were good, the direction was generally good and the SFX were good.

With that said, I couldn't really enjoy the film as a whole, due the writing being somewhat atrocious in parts, firstly, with the overall lack of motivation for characters.
Luthor's motivation started off fine, with him wanting to have a backup plan - just like Batman in the comics - in case Superman ever turned. That motivation then got almost retconned throughout the film with talks about Luthor's upbringing, war metaphors, biblical references and a mishmash of superficially written philosophical ramblings to the point where his motivation was all over the place and I really couldn't care less about his character.
Batman started off well, with having all his motivation put promptly and effectively on screen in the first 10 minutes, but was then rehashed over and over again during the largely pointless wheelchair bomb subplot and then after over an hour of being told how much Batman doesn't trust Superman, they are immediately best buddies because their mothers have the same first name.
Superman didn't really have an arch but is instead burdened by the fact that no-one trusts him and simultaneously burdened whenever he gets to save someone, leaving the character with very little emotional range to work with.

On top of this, most of the subplots were pointless. As mentioned, the wheelchair bomb was supposed to frame Superman, but it's shown immediately afterwards that no-one thought he was to blame. It was also supposed to give Batman a reason to distrust Superman, but that was already established at the beginning of the film. Lois Lane's subplot about getting the kryptonite lance back never had an in-universe reason to exist as she didn't know that they needed it again.
Batman's subplot about stealing the kryptonite showed the part of the plan where he failed and left him actually stealing it off screen (which would have been more interesting to see) as well as showing him blatantly killing several people without ever addressing it (even though it could have been explored by continuing the "turns good men cruel" set-up).
Wonder Woman was done well, but her investigation into Luthor's files messed with the film's pacing (having Momoa stare awkwardly at the camera for half a minute was not exactly exciting) and could have served as an excellent mid-credits scene instead. Having Luthor design logos for them was slightly odd as well, but I can let that slide.

This turned out longer than I expected, but in short I thought that the film had potential and many good parts, but was severely damaged by poor writing and clumsy editing. Snyder's direction was mostly good, despite what some reviews are saying, even though I would have liked less zooming digital characters followed by posing in the action scenes.

2/5

Francisco Gonzalez said...

Agree Cybolic, the writing wasn't pitchperfect, I personally didn't like that line "Do You Bleed?" "You will!" because it just sounds so fake, so forced. I did enjoy Luthor though, I mean, if we look at how Hackman played him, Hackman was even more of a cartoon, and he was always kind of "funny", in the movies anyways. Not in the comics.

AGree, it would have been better to see Batman actually stealing the Kryptonite, as it is, it feels like a "scene missing" type of thing. Let's see, maybe the R rated cut of the film will offer some of these lost pieces of the puzzle.

The posing thing has always been a Snyder trademark, but in reality, its also a comic book thing, characters always pose in action scenes in the comics. But I do hate that zooming from the cgi to the real actor, its just so freaking obvious I hate it. I will always have an issue with CGI effects, but whats the use of fighting it, I guess fantasy/sci-movies will always be made like this from now on.

Still, with all the flaws, I had fun with the film anyways, specially because I had read that whole 'Death of Superman' storyline and I saw it unfold in a different way, but there it was. Same as you, I enjoyed Wonder Woman, as I think most people did as well, I hope her upcoming solo movie is good as well.

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