Thursday, March 24, 2016

Movie Review: Batman v Superman - Dawn of Justice

WARNING: The following review contains a lot of spoilers. If you have not yet seen Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and wish to do so without having the plot given away, then do not read this.

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I want a refund. And I don’t just mean the 8,000 won that I paid for the ticket or the two-and-a-half hours for which the movie ran. I want back every moment that I had been excited and hyped for this movie since it had been announced in 2013.

Yes, the movie was that bad. Which was so tragic, considering the fact that I actually liked Man of Steel.

Some critics complained that the movie took itself too seriously. Perhaps there is some truth to that charge, but I didn’t mind it. Seeing how Marvel has decided to make their movies bright and colorful and optimistic, I understand why Warner Brothers wanted to make their movies a bit differently. Yet others said that the characters were too grim. I didn’t have a problem with that either. When Man of Steel ended, the fight between Superman and Zod destroyed entire city blocks and the Kryptonian World Engine probably caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. You don’t get to make a movie where everyone sings a happy tune and skips down the road while holding hands after something like that.

“People died? That’s hilarious!”
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The problem that I had with the movie was that the story was, plain and simple, stupid.

It starts out with a good enough premise. The movie starts with the last movie’s climax - Superman and Zod are duking it out and Bruce Wayne aka Batman witnesses all of the destruction it causes with human eyes. It is at this moment that he realizes that Superman is so incredibly powerful that he must do whatever he can to kill Superman.

That sounds fine but as the movie progresses, you have to wonder what kind of cognitive dissonance is going on in Batman’s mind. According to Batman lore, one thing that Batman never does is kill. He knows that he can kill but he chooses not to because that would make him no different from those psychopaths that he punches to a pulp every night. That’s why he never kills Joker. Except that in this movie, Batman does kill. A lot. Yes, Michael Keaton’s Batman killed, too, but not like Ben Affleck’s Batman.

Considering the way Ben Affleck’s Batman drives, uses the Batmobile’s automatic weapons, and the fact this Batman actually carries a gun (another big no-no in Batman lore), he definitely kills dozens of people in this movie. Oh, and he also snaps people’s necks. The only thing that differentiates Batman from Superman is that Superman kills a lot more people simply because he is an all-powerful alien.

Which is another thing. At the start of the movie, Batman thinks that Superman has to be taken out because he is too powerful and tens of thousands of people die whenever Superman uses his power. That’s fair. Truthfully, I thought that that the destruction that superheroes and supervillains cause is something that is glossed over too frequently in the Marvel universe. So when Snyder decided to bring the focus to the deaths of innocents, I thought that was a story worth exploring.

But then when Batman realizes that both he and Superman’s moms have the same name and that Superman’s mom was kidnapped, he literally tells Martha Kent that he is her son’s friend. Never mind that they were trying to kill each other just minutes ago! And then to insult everyone’s intelligence, Batman still likes Superman and doesn’t really think that he is a bad guy anymore at the end of the movie despite the fact that Superman’s fight with Doomsday caused even more destruction than his fight with Zod in Man of Steel. What changed?! We are literally back to where we started!

The only thing that changed was that Superman had died. Sure, at this point, unlike the audience, Batman doesn’t know that Superman will come back to life. Does that mean that all Superman had to do was keep doing what he did, caused wanton destruction in the name of saving humanity (Team America has nothing on Superman) and then just die to gain Batman’s sympathy and friendship? Holy cognitive dissonance, Batman! World’s greatest detective, my ass!

And then there’s Lex Luthor. Gene Hackman’s Luthor was campy but so was the original Superman movie. But as campy as it was, it was still Gene Hackman, which brought gravitas to the role. Kevin Spacey’s Luthor was menacing and unhinged. As different as Hackman’s and Spacey’s versions were, what both versions of Luthor had was the ability to communicate their ideas. Yes, they were bad guys, but at least they were not inarticulate.

Jessie Eisenberg’s Luthor, however, seems like a college-know-it-all spastic who has snorted way too much cocaine. Not only is there an absence of gravitas and menacing presence, there is also an absence of reason. Why does he want to kill Superman? Why does he want to pit him against Batman? Why does he want to create Doomsday using Zod’s deceased body? Why does he mix his blood with Zod’s deceased body to do so? None of these questions are answered. He just attempts to quote Copernicus, fails, shakes his head, gives an annoying laugh, and eats jelly beans. Jessie Eisenberg’s Luthor isn’t a menacing or formidable villain that could take on the mightiest superhero the world has ever known, but rather the weird kid next door whom everyone claims was so nice when they are interviewed on CNN because it has been revealed that he just went on a shooting spree in his school but then only managed to shoot himself in the groin.

Then there is the ridiculous manner in which Luthor tries to frame Superman for a crime. In the movie, intrepid reporter Lois Lane interviews an African warlord/terrorist but gets captured when it is revealed to everyone’s surprise that her cameraman was actually a CIA assassin. I guess Lane decided to go on this assignment because she knew that Superman would come to rescue her if things go badly, which he does. Talk about Moral Hazard!

Anyway, Superman is thundering toward our damsel in distress but for some reason, the warlord’s clearly Caucasian and clearly some-of-these-things-are-not-like-the-others henchmen begin to shoot and kill the other henchmen and other people in the village before taking off in their bikes. Superman arrives and rescues Lois and they fly back to Metropolis. But the news says that Superman killed all those people in the village - those people who were shot and killed. Did no one bother to do an autopsy to find out how these people died?

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Also, it turns out that the bullets that were used to kill those villagers and henchmen were made of some type of prototype alloy that even experts at the Pentagon were unable to identify them. And upon further digging, it’s discovered that those bullets were developed and manufactured by Lex Luthor’s company, LexCorp.

WHAT??? Not only did no one bother to perform an autopsy to figure out how those people actually died, those assassins also used prototype bullets that directly led back to their employer? Why couldn’t they have just used regular bullets like everyone else? Was that just too passé? Or why use bullets at all? After all, this isn’t the first time Zack Snyder had to frame a superhero for something. Doctor Manhattan was framed for having caused cancer to all the people who had ever been close to him in Watchmen. Was Snyder unable to plagiarize himself or did he forget that he directed that movie, too?

Later on in the movie, Lex Luthor convinces Superman to kill Batman because if he doesn’t, he will kill Superman’s mom. Yes, Luthor knows Superman’s secret identity, which he doesn’t reveal to everyone else because reasons. At this point, Superman could have beaten, frozen, burned, punched, kicked, or tickled Luthor to release his mom. He could have done anything. The guy can fly at speeds that have to be measured in Machs and shoots laser beams out of his eyes that can destroy entire city blocks and could atomize a man with a single punch. Or he could have used his super hearing like he did to save Lois when she was in trouble. Twice.

But no, Superman decides to cry “Uncle” and do Luthor’s bidding because of reasons. Kinda. Right before flying to Gotham, Superman tells Lois that he is going to ask Batman for his help.

And this is how the following conversation could have gone down. “Hey, Bruce, can I call you Bruce? Sorry, I’ve got these X-Ray vision that allowed me to see who you are underneath the cowl. I know we got off on the wrong foot, but Lex Luthor sent me to kill you because if I don’t, he’ll kill my mom. Now I don’t want to do that. So could you help me out? Peace pipe, BFF?”

But no. They meet, grunt something at each other, and then fight. For 30 minutes. Until Wonder Woman finally shows up and then tells the both of them to quit it. When Luthor realizes that his plan has failed, then he unleashes Doomsday to fight the three of them.

Yep. This isn
’t your delicate Christopher Nolan Batman who tries to use reason and logic or even your Bryan Singer’s Superman who is capable of cracking a smile now and then. At this point, the whole thing has turned into a monster bash movie and Godzilla and Mothra are telling everyone to take it down a notch.

I’m having a hard time understanding my character’s motivation
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And Wonder Woman? There isn’t much that I can say about her because there isn’t much of her onscreen anyway! Holly Hunter as the doomed senator gets more air time than Gal Gadot! Wonder Woman appears in the movie for no other reason than to serve as a teaser for the upcoming stand-alone Wonder Woman movie. But of course, there has to be a reason for her to be around, right?

So Zack Snyder comes up with a reason. If it can be called that. It turns out that both Batman and Wonder Woman need to access Lex Luthor’s heavily encrypted computer for their own individual reasons. Well, hello, meet cute! It turns out that Lex Luthor has a yellowish black-and-white picture of Wonder Woman that was taken in 1916, where she stands with a group of World War I soldiers (one of whom is Chris Pine, so I guess he’ll be in the Wonder Woman movie, too).

And if you think about it, that’s really dumb. I’m willing to accept that Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince doesn’t want the fact that she is an immortal warrior princess from a secret mythical island revealed to the rest of the world. But come on! This wasn’t a one-of-a-kind hard copy photograph. The photograph has been scanned and digitized into a jpeg file and uploaded into a computer. Did the writers forget how the Internet works? Once your picture has been digitized and uploaded onto the Internet, that’s it. You are never getting that picture back and it will be out there forever.

Whoever wrote this damned script apparently decided to make stuff up along the way and used copious amounts of alcohol for inspiration when they realized that they didn’t have a creative bone in their bodies and said among themselves, “Dude, Gal Gadot would look so fucking hot in that slinky dress, am I right? Gimme five!

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As for Batman, he’s supposed to be the world’s greatest detective and be an all around super-intelligent human being. None of that is in the movie. But you get to see him do a whole Crossfit workout routine and have a bunch of dream sequences though. No, this is not your Christian Bale Batman. And gods, I miss Christian Bale.

Sound like a clusterfuck? It is a clusterfuck. I remember reading the comic books - The Death of Superman. It was emotional and gut-wrenching. Yes, I know that superheroes never die as they always come back to life but until that point, superheroes never died. Period. But by the time Superman “dies” after having fought Doomsday in this movie, I was long past caring.

Even the musical score annoyed me to hell. The score was written by the great Hans Zimmer and as usual, the music was epic. So what
s the problem? Most movies’ musical scores are in the background, oftentimes so subliminally that the audience isn’t fully aware that there is even music playing. There is no way that can happen in this movie. The score is bone-shatteringly loud, in your face, and constant. If the poorly-written script doesn’t make you feel nauseated, the musical score certainly will.

If you’ve seen the movie and you’re reading this, I think we should all collectively march to Zack Snyder’s house and pelt him with eggs. If you haven’t seen the movie and read this, why? I told you not to. But since you’ve already read it, don’t watch it. Save your money for the newly rebooted Ghostbusters movie instead when it comes out. I don’t think it will be an awesome movie or anything, but it couldn’t be worse than the crapfest that is Batman v Superman.

Personally, this one hurt. I've always been more of a DC fan than a Marvel fan. Yes, Marvel has some decent characters and stories, but they don't have Superman or Batman. But it looks like Marvel has nothing to worry about. If Batman v Superman is the foundation that all future The Justice League movies are going to be based on, Marvel and it’s parent company, Disney, can safely churn out more dumb Avengers movies and count all the money they make til their dying days because it turns out that The Justice League movies are going to be even dumber.

I give Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 1 out of 5. I would have given it zero, but I liked the Batmobile.

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1 comment:

  1. I think you caught just about every problem in your review. When I went to YouTube and watched several "vlogged" reviews of the movie, the criticisms echoed everything you'd mentioned. The fans all seem to be mad about the same things, which really ought to be a heads-up to Zack Snyder.