Thursday, March 31, 2016

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

* spoilers *

Bruce Wayne vows vengeance upon Superman for the havoc he wreaked in the battle against Zod, Superman just wants to save people whenever it's convenient for him. Lex Luthor wants to throw everything into chaos and reap the profits by pitting Batman against Superman. The government is trying to contain Superman and restrict him to their rules. You would think the film would be straight forward with such simple story lines, but you would be very wrong.

Full disclosure: I did not enjoy Man of Steel and I went into this film knowing I would also not enjoy it. I did like some things about it, but there are fundamental problems that make it a bloated confusing mess. The best thing about the whole film is Wonder Woman. At first, she's an enigmatic character kind of like Catwoman whose motivations are murky. Her fight scenes bring to mind Snyder's 300 that was his strength: a fighting movie with very little plot and a lot of cool visual effects. I look forward to seeing more from her character, especially since she used to fight with the humans and gave it up due to perhaps disillusionment. Alfred is my other favorite character. He's a sassy, tech-savvy drunk who is tired of Bruce's shit, not the obedient formal butler of the past. I also enjoyed Ben Affleck's Batman for what it was, but I had more of a problem with the writing than his portrayal. It was nice that he actually used his detecting skills and thought critically about the situation.

Now for the bad stuff which way outweighs the good stuff. I didn't like the pacing, the tone, the "heroes," and the convenient coincidences. The pacing is horrible. First, the film is way too long at two and half hours and it feels like an eternity. Second, if all the terrible and unnecessary dream sequences were cut out, it would be at least a half hour shorter. All of these Bruce Wayne dreams were over-long and had something laughable in them. One had young Bruce lifted into the air by bats. Another had a Mad Max style future with Superman logoed Gestapo. It way slowed down the film and took time creating ridiculous situations that didn't even mean anything. The set-up for later films also takes up time and stalls the plot. The two second cameos of Aquaman, the Flash, and Cyborg were mildly interesting, but needed to be cut. The title fight didn't happen until well into the film and it wasn't even the main fight. 

The tone problem is consistent through most DC films. They focus on being dour, humorless, and angsty. Even the colors are incredibly muted. I like films with some humor to cut into the drama and some actual color. I prefer Marvel movies because they have levity along with the superhero drama, color, and actually value human life (which I will get to later). Suicide Squad seems to be a step in the right direction, but it still looks dour and monochromatic. DC is obsessed with appearing gritty and realistic, but they are never rated R to keep the wide audience and end up being more unrealistic and cartoonish than their Marvel counterparts. If you're going to be gritty and realistic, then do it, but they are half-assing it and want the best of both worlds with disappointing results.

The "heroes" of this film aren't real heroes at all. Batman is up front with this admission and says he's not a hero. He does save people from the Zod fight, but then sets his sights on taking down Superman exclusively. When stealing the Kryptonite chunk, he doesn't hesitate to open heavy artillery fire on people and of course vows to kill Superman. His critique makes sense, but he ceases to really help innocents in his quest for vengeance. Superman, on the other hand, only seems to care about humans directly related to him or sleeping with him. Everyone else is expendable. It was painfully apparent in Man of Steel that he didn't care about anyone in the buildings he was smashing to oblivion. He saves a girl once in the film to further shove the messianic imagery surrounding him down our throats. The character is a wet blanket of a person and seems to have no critical thinking skills at all. Even the villains are underwhelming. Doomsday looks like a Lord of the Rings cave troll with a skin problem and Lex Luthor was a sloppy, crazed child, a huge departure from his usual character.

These two characters' conflict is solved by the shared name of their mothers in a bizarre mood change for Bruce and suddenly they are best pals. Because of the criticism of Man of Steel, it is explicitly stated multiple times that the buildings being crushed by our heroes are completely deserted. Even ones that are business buildings in a tightly packed city...Just no. There will always be people around a metropolis at all hours of the night. Then Batman has the great idea to have the main actual villain follow him back to the city to endanger even more lives. There are so many lapses in judgment and weird decision making. I'm not sure what exactly the writers were doing, but they need to hire new ones for the next films. 

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice is a bloated mess of bad writing, dour tone, horrible heroes, and weird reasonings and coincidences. The ending is especially stupid because the audience is supposed to believe that Superman is dead despite the fact that we know the Justice League franchise is just starting. It's insulting and no one is fooled. The false emotion is wasted and again just wastes even more time trying to get the audience to feel bullshit feelings. I went in expecting horrible and that's about what it gave. I have hope for future movies, but not much. I have more hope for X-Men , Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Deadpool. DC is too busy trying to be gritty without losing profits and mimicking Transformer fights to make quality films. 

My rating: 2/5 fishmuffins

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