Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Batman v Superman v Critics v Attention Spans

By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

So, I finally bit the bullet last night and saw the new Batman-Superman movie. I told you I would last week, mostly because these characters are too damn important to miss, especially when this flick is their first meeting on the big screen.

So, was it as bad as all the reviews made it out to be?

Not quite, but this thing has a lot of flaws. Here's a quick rundown, with no spoilers (that aren't in the trailers), but I'll get into specifics, with spoilers, at the bottom. Don't worry, I'll warn you when the spoilers are coming. Seriously, I will.

First, the good.

-I still like Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent. He's a handsome boy scout, and I actually kind of buy his on-screen chemistry with Amy Adams' Lois Lane. When you consider that this could have gone the way of Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman, I'll call it a win that I don't hate watching these two interact.

-Also, Affleck ain't a bad Batman. No, really!

I mean, he's a different Batman. He's a PTSD, "I've seen some $#it" kinda Batman. But, it sorta works.

This is a guy who has been cleaning the streets of Gotham all these years, and they aren't getting any cleaner. Naturally, he starts to get a little pissed, and ups his brutality game.

-Gal Gadot looks like she's going to be a fantastic Wonder Woman. We only get a little bit of her in this film, but she's almost like a super Bond chick before she enters the fray, and once she starts throwing down, watch out. They showcased her powers and personality well. In fact, setting up a Wonder Woman movie may be the ONE thing this movie did exceptionally well.

I'm not a Wonder Woman fan, but Gadot's performance may have hooked me for at least one WW film.

-Alfred is played by Jeremy Irons, who also does the voice of Scar in The Lion King, and that makes me happy.

-The use of Doomsday, the Kryptonian monster who kills Superman in the comic books (before he inevitably returns), is pretty cool. Using Doomsday is both a strength and a weakness for this film, because I feel like Superman vs Doomsday (with Lex Luthor pulling the strings) should have been its own movie.

Still, it was cool to see the baddest of Superman baddies on the big screen, and the film did a decent job with him, though his origin strayed pretty far from the source material.

-The beginning of the movie, which shows Bruce Wayne watching Superman fight Zod in Man of Steel is great in a couple ways. First, it shows why he's wary of Superman (who kills thousands of people during the battle), but it also gives Bruce a sense of powerlessness. This is Bruce freaking Wayne, maybe the most powerful civilian on Earth, what with his billions of dollars and military-grade vigilante equipment.

Yet, he's reduced to a spectator in this battle of Gods from another world. That was a feeling the movie could have hit on more, but kind of just let it sit there.

-Another cool question the movie asked early on: Should there be a Superman? It's an interesting question, that maybe deserved it's own movie (where he fights Doomsday and Lex), but we never get an answer, or really address the subject ever again.

-Of course, the best thing about this movie is the first time Batty and Supes stare each other down. If you don't geek out for that, why are you in the theater?

Now, the bad.

-My main problem with this movie is it should be, like, five different movies. Or, at least, it should have been set up by some other movies.

This is Batman vs Superman, the main event of comic books, and we're getting it as the second movie of the DC Universe re-launch? It should have been a slow build to this epic showdown, just like Marvel built up to The Avengers assembling.

What's worse, it feels like this movie was mostly a vehicle to set up Wonder Woman and Justice League movies.

Screw that, this should have been the fight other movies were building up to! Instead, it was rushed, and had to fit in the other movies that should have come before it.

This movie crammed in a Superman sequel, a Batman sorta re-boot, a Wonder Woman introduction, a weak attempt at a political thriller, and one other movie I can't say here because we're not at the spoiler section yet. No wonder this thing is over 150 minutes long.

-All that said, the absolute WORST thing about this movie is Jesse Eisenberg's portrayal of super villain Lex Luthor. He's just annoyingly nutty. I don't know if he thought he was playing The Riddler (the closest thing to him is Jim Carey's Riddler in Batman Forever), or was trying to recreate some of the insanity that made Heath Ledger's Joker so memorable, but it totally falls flat.

What's worse, he's on screen SO MUCH!

Seriously, I was actually enjoying Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent going back-and-forth about whether Batman or Superman is better, and then Lex Luthor shows up and ruins the scene.

This movie bounces 100 different places every minute, but for some reason, Luthor gets minutes of uninterrupted screen time where he awkwardly laughs and rambles, killing any momentum the movie might be building.

If they would have just cut out the whole Doomsday storyline, and just had a Lex Luthor not played by Eisenberg pulling the strings behind the Batman-Superman fight, this movie would have been infinitely better. I know Kevin Spacey is busy these days, but couldn't he reprise his Lex role? It was the only thing good about Superman Returns.

-On that note, can you imagine a world where two billionaires like Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne live across the Bay from each other?

What bay, you say?

Oh yeah, apparently Gotham City and Metropolis, the two largest cities in DC's fictional America, are across a freaking bay from each other! They're like San Francisco and Oakland, if San Francisco and Oakland were New York and Los Angeles.

-Back to those two billionaires- If you had a better Luthor, and they gave him a more Luther-ey plot, you could have actually had that political thriller, with Lex and Bruce maneuvering behind the scenes against each other.

Which one of them would represent Donald Trump? Hmm...

There are a bunch of other stupid things about this movie, so let's just go lightning round:

-Why do they give us a BatFit™ training montage for Batman. Is he actually going to get in good enough shape to beat up Superman?

-The fight scenes should be better, mostly just due to inconsistency. Sometimes Superman can fly around the world in a second to save Lois but, for some reason, when he's fighting Batman, he moves slowly enough to be hit by Batty's projectiles.

-This movie goes full Lord of the Rings with its number of endings.

-The concept of Batman vs Superman is one fans were obviously excited about, and this movie ultimately failed to deliver on the immense potential of that story. It gave us some good things, scraps of a great movie, really. But we wanted the whole meal.


Seriously, there are spoilers here. Stop reading if you haven't seen the movie. Ok, here we go.

I did like that the movie paid homage to the death of Superman at the hands of Doomsday in the comics, and I like that they gave Doomsday his powers of "evolution" and energy harnessing, but they never really explained why he had them. Also, making him an abominable re-spawn of Zod was a little weak and plot convenience-ey.

If they had just done a Superman sequel, maybe called The Death of Superman, they could have made a ton of money and built up the battle with Doomsday.

Instead, it's just a battle at the end, after the movie had already thrown its momentum into the Batman-Superman fight. In that last fight scene Doomsday and Wonder Woman stole they show, but they both deserved better, to be honest.

If we had gotten a Superman v Doomsday movie, a Wonder Woman origin movie and a Batman re-boot with Bruce Wayne now older and meaner, then we would have been ready for this movie. We would know all the characters, we would be more invested in each of them, and we could bring back Superman (yeah people, he's coming back) after his death, only to be met with suspicion by Batman.

Then they could have their fight, without all this other noise, and we could get one big baddie for them to unite against at the end. Maybe Darkseid? Rumors are he's coming for the Justice League. If Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman all teamed up and fought him to a draw, then it would set up the need to assemble the Justice League, hence setting the stage for a Justice League trilogy against Darkseid and all his other space peeps.

But hey, what do I know? Well, not much, other than the fact that this movie was a total waste of potential. So many chances to be great, and it just didn't latch on to any of them.

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