Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE

Superman (Henry Cavill)  vs Batman (Ben Affleck)
BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (2016). Director: Zack Synder.

Some of the public are losing faith in Superman (Henry Cavill) of Metropolis and fear he may be too powerful, which is also a concern of Gotham's Batman (Ben Affleck). Meanwhile, the Man of Steel is disgusted by Batman's violent vigilantism. When Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) kidnaps Superman's mother, Martha (Diane Lane), he tells him he can only save her by killing the Batman. The Man of Steel has no intention of murdering anyone, and tries to get Batman to work with him to save Martha and take down Luthor, but their misunderstandings about their different approaches only lead to conflict. Years ago I complained that some comic book and comic book-like movies were much too mindless, but now they've gone to the other extreme. Unfortunately, Batman V Superman mistakes a continuous grimness with seriousness, but ironically none of it is very profound. The picture has an admirable intensity, and while no one wants to return to the camp and silliness of the old days, couldn't all these billions of dollars and all that work have been employed to make a more entertaining movie? In some ways Batman v Superman comes off like a mere prelude to the upcoming Justice League of America movie, the idea of which I find less exciting after sitting through the somewhat tedious 151 minutes that make up this film. The picture has some interesting elements and sets up clever situations (the conflict between Bats and Supes has already been explored in the comics) but its action scenes are more frenetic than well-done, and half the time you can't really tell what's happening. With the exception of a dreadful, almost-camp, boyish geek version of Lex Luthor played by Eisenberg [Cursed] , the acting is excellent, with both Affleck [Hollywoodland] and Cavill [Immortals] quite adept at the new ultra-intense super-hero style. Amy Adams is also quite effective as Lois Lane, as is Holly Hunter as a senator. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) shows up at the end to help the fellows fight Doomsday, and is fine, and there are cameos by the Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg (what, no Green Lantern?) to set up the next DC Universe movie. A confusing prologue shows an attack on Gotham by what appears to be Brainiac, but the film never makes it clear exactly what's happening, and in general the screenplay is mediocre. [Apparently Batman v Superman starts off where Man of Steel ended, and the antagonist is General Zod, but couldn't there have been some attempt made to remind viewers of this?] Moments of cuteness happen so infrequently that they're jarring, such as when Batman asks Superman if Wonder Woman is with him, and he responds "I thought she was with you." There are guest appearances from Anderson Cooper, Andrew Sullivan (!), Nancy Grace and others, all commenting on one hero or another. Too many anti-climaxes by far.

Verdict: Very talky and not a hell of a lot of fun but there are a few good scenes. **1/2.

4 comments:

angelman66 said...

Will have to check this out, in spite of myself! You've convinced me!! Don't worry, I won't expect a masterpiece, but I suspect I will be diverted and entertained with that impressive cast!
-C

William said...

I don't know if you'll find it all that entertaining, but it's colorful enough.

VintageNewscast said...

I actually had to watch it twice to figure out whether or not I liked it. Without a shadow of a doubt, the special effects were on point. But, I guess my frustration came when they made Batman too simple minded. When I look at the history of all the other Batmen, he was always masterfully intelligent, and always one step ahead of everyone else; but this Batman was straight up stupid! I did not appreciate his character in the movie at all.

William said...

Very good point, VN! Batman was "reconceived," as they say, and it was hard to see him as the same Batman from the comics. Probably they felt they had to make Bats as different from Superman as possible, hence the dumbing-done makeover.

Thanks for your comments, and good luck with your blogging!