August 18, 2016
By Furzee Glob
The long promised DC Comics saga continues its modern adaptation to the big screen with the 2016 installment: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder. The farmer boy vs. the promiscuous heir confrontation movie starts with the many-times-filmed depiction of Bruce Wayne’s childhood scene of what always feels like a relentless night at the movies with the atrocious twist of the parents getting whacked by some armed robber and their poor (not really) son as the sole witness. There is nothing new to offer in this sequence aside from a wannabe artsy scene with the boy grieving and bats flying all over the place. Flash forward a couple decades to still another flashback of the main story of Superman having a tremendous fight with Zod destroying many buildings in the process, including the Wayne Tower, campus Metropolis that kills and injures several innocent employees and peasants as a result. This is all observed by Wayne himself from a safe spot about a block away and seems to seed a sort of hatred for the Man of Steel inside him. Quick observation: A close look at Wayne’s profile shows signs of a couple white hairs evidently advocating that the Bat has been around for a while now. Is this a suggestion that this might somehow be a sort of informal transition of the Dark Knight Trilogy? Who cares anyway?
Now we flash forward 18 months to the main movie setting. Here we start getting introduced to a smorgasbord of well-known franchise characters that weren’t able to interestingly develop in the long enough length of two and a half hours. With that said, the overall acting was tip-top. The great Amy Adams makes a decent and gorgeous Lois Lane, the now kind of veteran actor Laurence Fishburne plays the Daily Planet editor and even throws a couple funny wisecracks in a fine Jonah Jameson-y manner, Michael Shannon plays an OK dead Zod, and a Kevin Costner cameo is easy to enjoy.
To depict a comic book character villain in flesh is one of the biggest challenges in Hollywood nowadays, and maybe the most demanding part from the fans. To make a good one, it is a fatal mistake to try to mimic him from the exact still images of the pages from where he or she originally belongs. A good actor makes a recreation of the character that works in real human movement and Jesse Eisenberg certainly did his job well as a wacko rich sociopath Alexander “Lex” Luthor. But it’s easy to imagine comic fans pissed with his childish, clown gestures looking at him with the same fiery eyes Superman stared at Lex, as he dropped him the pictures of his mother (powerfully played by Diane Lane) being captive, on every scene he appeared. Alfred Pennyworth is played by Jeremy Irons in a smarty performance, leaving desire for more Alfred wise one-liners that seem more a script problem than lack of acting. Last but not least: Mr. Affleck as the Batman was actually not disappointing and arguably better than previous performers such as Val Kilmer, George Clooney and (have a good weekend, Nolan pseudo-scholars) maybe even Christian Bale, keeping middle ground between his yuppie/miserable personality, and masquerading the unhappy, lonely, thoughtful, and gallant Bat-way Bruce Wayne deserves to be portrayed as.
The middle act is the worst part of the whole. It consists in a bunch of disorganized and sometimes confusing scenes. Just to throw a few: there’s a terrorist rescue scene with no relevant excitement, an anarchistic manifestation against Superman, a hors d’oeuvre and cocktails party at LexCorp with a completely unfunny and awkward, (again, which seems more like a script, or even editing, problem) Lex Luthor speech, where Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne, two of the many guests, meet, and in which the Dark Knight undisguised gets into the obligatory I-will-excuse-myself-from-everybody-and-look-for-some-room-with-a-computer-to-plug-in-a-bug-flashdrive-to-infiltrate-this-suspicious-guy’s-operative-system-and-see-what’s-the-deal-with-him-and-just-as-soon-as-I-plug-it-someone-will-catch-me-sneaking-right-after-the-exact-moment-I-finished-connecting-therefore-with-my-hands-empty-being-able-to-perfectly-state-“my-bad-I-was-just-looking-for-the-restroom-and-got-lost” scene, a couple political/news scenes, cameo gifts for the average comic enthusiast (The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg), and an explosion scene that is thrilling for the half minute it lasts despite some annoying bits like a horse “iiiiiii-ing” in an anguished-American-pride way right after and so on.
Moreover, to show the psychological turmoil the Cape Crusader is going through, dream sequences, products of Bruce Wayne’s perturbed subconscious, are shown: one in which he wanders in some sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland, a golden-caramel toned desert country with flying alien creatures (“demons coming from above”?) attacking soldiers, a bleeding crypt with a spooky turnout, and some sort of red portal with a voice that warns the Batman about upcoming grief. What this means is never clearly explained but it is safe to guess they might be visions of a disastrous future that Batman should avoid let happen.
This combination of events lead to Batman preparing to the main stage of confronting the Superman whom he, and ninety nine percent of the world think is a menace to humanity (except for a Mexican township that see him as some sort of guardian angel after he saves a little girl from a fire in a brief scene with little visuals that could have been way more exciting, but that’s another problem, for Superman it’s simply easy to rescue anyone in this kind of situation so at the end if feels unnecessary to show the scene), creating a suit that looks very heavy even for the Dark Knight and makes him look about 1.5 times more bulky, kryptonite weapons, and other usual handy Batman gags. Superman is also not a big fan of Batman, for his own reasons, so after being threatened about his mother soon being tortured, planned by Lex Luthor, and kidnapped by his people (an annoying foreign criminal with your casual baroque tattoos on the neck and all over his fingers, and his crew of wrongdoers), his only option, offered by Luthor, is to kill the Bat or she’s burned alive. As seen in his previous work, Zack Snyder is particularly (maybe only) good at staging fight scenes and the long-awaited fight between the two heroes (there had to be one, right?) does have interesting visual hurls and thumps from both sides, that halt the situation for an expected peace agreement mainly due to the ridiculous coincidence that both hero’s mothers are named Martha.
Superman goes back and fights a more crazed than ever Lex Luthor while Batman goes and rescues Mrs. Kent. Luthor now summons a tacky looking Doomsday, that actually could have been fun if it had been introduced before and lasted longer in the movie, but all the moments in the film are quick and thrown at unexpected times with little surprising effect in an exasperating manner that strangely makes the show still slow and tiring. Another new character, which was already introduced as a civil but mysterious woman, is revealed here to join the fight against the wet bubbly monster: A Zoë Bell-ish Wonder Woman who seems to have a bigger pair of ovaries than the two protagonists put together. The monster dies. Superman does, too. The highly Military-fueled funeral scene at the end is nothing new to film history and there are even more annoying bits like a bullet falling slowly on the floor to show some kind of unnecessary patriot gratification.
In a production of this magnitude it is conventional that the good guys win in the end (or in the meantime), and even if they don’t they just revive or something. So the title of the film is really not important. But if you want to get philosophical for a minute you might say that the real battle in this story is the personal struggle of characters being unique fighters in a world where only a few fight to make little to no difference. And it is seen throughout the movie that not only the heroes but also every character that surrounds them live with burdens and super-glued to the spine grief that even if they came to justice or inner peace, it would just feel temporary. The fight goes on, and Batman and Wonder Woman have small talk near the end of the movie about forming an alliance, just in case bigger issues arise.
Of course the events of the previous days led for people to understand that Superman is quite a good guy and now everyone is crying everywhere for Earth’s loss. Let us not forget that the film is more than anything an artifact to continue this franchise, and it expectedly ends with a cliffhanger of Superman, well, resurrecting. But from the viewer’s point of view the final product of this movie seems injust in a story about justice. Zack Snyder has infinite manpower to turn any production into a good pop-corn movie and just like Lex Luthor says in the movie: “power can be innocent” which suggests the director of 300, Watchmen and the fine remake of Dawn of the Dead did not play his cards completely well, which has happened for some movies in a row now. The film has its good entertaining moments and it would be totally unfair to state that it only works if it was intended to be a complete failure. There are aspects to like. Cape Crusader fans should be fair and not snob about Ben Affleck not portraying a good Batman although more scenes with him dressed as a vigilante are a must in the next installments. The actors without doubt did the best job in the two and a half hour event. As for visitor Kal-El (Henry Cavill), he fits suitably into a confused Superman dealing with the complexity of his own self, but more than that with the humans surrounding him, trying to understand why having all the power of the world in his hands is not enough to do good in this strange world he came to join. It is balderdash to watch a superhero flick and expect the next Citizen Kane, but Zack Snyder poorly pulled an interesting title full of avoidable flaws, and he certainly can do better than that, as he demonstrated the fans and movie goers in general with his first couple of three films.