MARCH 31, 2016
Wow, this movie is polarizing, huh? I haven’t seen such a divide in opinion since that clearly white and gold dress from the depths of tumblr. Many fans love it, some hate it, and critics are pretty much unanimously tearing it into tiny little pieces. Here’s my wholly unqualified and unrequested 2 cents.
It’s a decent film. It’s not amazing. But it’s not a steaming pile of shit either.
I think, Nolan trilogy non-withstanding, that comic book movies have set a certain precedent. They are supposed to be fun, colourful, easily digestible romps concerning ridiculous costumes and one-liners. This film is none of those things, and I think many people have trouble with that. It is undeniably bleak, and none of the superheroes appear to be happy that they are in fact, superheroes. Look, I’m all for a change up of Marvel’s tried and tested formula. I’m all for a dark interpretation and a gritty portrayal, give me some fucked up shit, make Batman psychotic, hell yeah. But there needs to be a purpose. I love that this film raises thought provoking insight into the dynamic between an omnipotent being and the fragile little ant people he’s trying to protect.
But holy tapdancing Christ do they drive that point home, ham-fistedly, with every line. Man. God. Man Vs God. Gods and Man. Giant Grecian statues, halos, baroque paintings, holy light, holy shit, Zack, we get it. Supes is the reluctant, all powerful Christ figure who don’t need no approval from the masses to save their asses. But the incessant theological symbolism is not delivered delicately. It is rammed down the audience’s throat for 2 and a half hours with the subtlety of a freight train. I’m surprised he wasn’t nailed to a cross at some point. The issues raised are an undeniably interesting debate, but it makes the movie feel like a philosophical drama with comic book characters as props.
Superman himself is played well enough by Henry “I Spend Way Too Much Time Talking To Dead Dads” Cavill. Granted, he doesn’t have to do a lot aside from channeling Adonis and looking kinda mopey. Supersadman. Sad’El. Clark Sadkent. The power is a burden, they don’t love me, wah, wah, wah, go to your bedroom of solitude and listen to Papa Roach. Superman has always been kind of a one-dimensional character, and Cavill does his best with the material he’s given. I kinda just wanted him to finally snap and kill everyone, or I dunno, smile, or something.
Then there’s Batshitcrazyman. Representing the commoner, fearful of the all-powerful Gods. Saying that which cannot be controlled needs … to … die? Yeah, kids, this ain’t your dad’s Batman. The world’s most intelligent detective (hurr, I like your shoes! smooth, Affleck) decides to straight up fucking murder the dude trying to save the world based on the 1% chance he realizes Earth is kinda shitty and throws it into the sun? There’s no reasoned debate or rational discussion, nope, I’m gonna build an Iron Batsuit and straight up kill the guy. This is a Batman who has a god damn chip on his shoulder and hates immigrants. New age Bats has no qualms about stabbing people, gunning them down, and freaking branding them with a giant Bat Poker.
Hey Batman. Throwing criminals in prison wearing a big neon saying saying “RAPE AND SODOMIZE ME” is the same as killing them yourself.
The movie is jarringly peppered with dream sequences and generally him just losing his collective shit. I always figured it wouldn’t be long before the PTSD got to the grown man who dresses as a rodent and sits in the rain, but it’s still kind of an adjustment. To be completely fair, I love this new Batman, even if he does have an inexplicable burning hatred of tyres. And Affleck absolutely nails it, in a performance predicted only by one person on the entire planet (me. I called it. eat me.) Ben Jackedffleck has the nuances of Bruce Wayne mostly down pat and rocks the cowl with a fierce rawness the movies haven’t seen before. He’s unlike almost every other iteration of Batman, and I think that’s a major point of contention with most fans. He’s not really calculated or logical. He’s emotional and has ridiculous tiny ears. He fights like a street thug, and you feel the impact and brutality of the fight scenes in a way I can only compare to the Arkham series of games. Dude gets like a 30 hit combo at one point. DO YOU BLEED? So dramatic, Bruce.
Sidenote: Alfred better get a freaking insane benefits package with dental, because the dude spends his entire life cleaning up Bruce’s shit. He’s like a qualified engineer, welder, scientist, chemist and computer hacker, but oh HEY ALFRED I TRASHED THE BATCAR AGAIN COULD YOU GIVE IT A SCRUB DOWN AND FILL HER UP CHEERS MATE. If I was Alfred I’d have dobbed him in 20 years ago and retired on a beach somewhere, drowning myself in cocktails and trying to forget the crazy asshole I had to wait on my whole life. WOULD IT KILL YOU TO SAY THANKS ONCE IN A WHILE, BRUCE? Jeremy Irons is magnetic as Alfred and sorely underutilized.
One of the biggest issues BvS has is pacing. I get that the entire way this is marketed is as the duel rabid comic fans have wanted for decades. But 2 and a half hours is a longgg time to struggle through scenes such as “Superman Goes to Court!” and “Clark Kent Has A Bad Work Day!”, and they really didn’t help build up to the epic clash at all. Bruce and Clark meet, give a brisk manly nod, and then decide they need to kill the shit out of each other. There’s some random terrorism allegories but they don’t really matter. No morale contemplation or adult conversation. And that’s where this movie falls apart.
When Supo and Batto fight in the comics/animated short, they have years and years of story they’ve built on. They had character arcs together, and went from super buddies to reluctant enemies. The movie offers none of that and has no good explanation why these two are fighting at all. Except for some random bullshit about Lex Luthor.
What did Luthor actually accomplish in this entire thing? One of them dies? Why does he even care? Who can say. Also, what the sweet chilli cracker are you doing, Jesse Eisenberg? There is a time and place to channel Mark Zuckerberg, but it is not here. I mean, his Lex isn’t gob-smackingly awful; he has his moments. It’s just so freaking unnecessary. Why do all villains now need to be eccentric psychopaths with a penchant for tangents and Captain Jack gesticulations? Lex Luthor was a fine character, a calculated genius with a god complex and a hatred of Superman. He does not need to become the Joker with a PHD.
I get this film got a lot of shit because of the, again, ham-fisted way it introduced the other characters in the franchise and future money cows of DC, with their respective debuts feeling much like watching someone click through a series of YouTube trailers. Not delicate, but it was brief, and the cameos were decent enough. I never knew how much I didn’t want an Aquaman movie until right that moment, though.
The problem is that we weren’t given nearly enough of the title fight, despite the film being discretely titled Batman V Superman. Especially after the struggle of a build-up. What we did get was mostly great, though. It started off so promising, taking some scenes directly from the comics. The action and choreography in the movie is fantastic and watching them trade blows is like watching Goku fight Vegeta. You can feel the impact of each hit. And finally he has him, right there, wielding his ridiculous Bruce Wayne’s Krypton On A Stick ™. He made him bleed, it’s gg.
INCOMING MOST RIDICULOUS FUCKING PLOT DEUS EX MACHINA SINCE COLONEL SANDERS FEATURED IN THE MATRIX.
Batman shows mercy because of the most asstarded reason I’ve ever heard. His mum and Supes mum have the same name. Are you fucking kidding me? Are you trying to tell me if Bruce was spawned from a Bertha Wayne, the entire universe would be different? THAT WAS THE SINGLE MOST DECISIVE MOMENT IN THE ENTIRE MOVIE, AND THAT’S HOW YOU HANDLE IT? It’s cool though, now they have the deep, irrevocable bond of having their mother’s share a first name, they’re super buddies again.
I was still reeling from the ridiculousness of it all throughout the last act, which descends into a horrible mess of CGI, going full Michael Baytard and being largely forgettable. Wonder Woman is a total badass and easily the best part of it, carrying her team while Batman starts sniping from 5km away like a teenage COD player and Superman is still sad about something or another. They cram more shit in, Supes an-heroes into the Zod CGIfest that was somehow spawned from a black metal sacrificial ritual, everyone is sad. Cue funeral, in which Batman is all “I let down my friend,”
Hey asshole maybe it’s because 5 minutes ago you were trying to kill the guy. Maybe he would have survived the fight with Doomsday IF HE WASN’T WEAKENED BY YOUR 17 KRYPTON GRENADES YOU GIANT BAT DICK.
Wow, that review went on waaaay longer than expected. I do like Affleck’s Batman, even if he does shoot guns and bet on underground fight clubs. And the duel itself was appropriately epic, raw, and supremely satisfying. The 2 hours to set it up and the disjointed mess that led up to it was not. Superman’s death felt almost shoehorned in at the end, especially since I’ll wager it will be 20 minutes into the next film before he crawls out from a stone tomb. It’s just dark film, darker, I think, than a movie about two people who wear prominent lycra has any right to be. I’m not even touching on the rampant terrorism/9/11 imagery, the score that caused Hans Zimmer to retire from superhero movies or Lois “Amy In A Tub” Lane. But this entire movie was about an epic showdown of sad orphans, and it delivered. It should be interesting to see how the DC extended universe shapes up, but so far, it doesn’t seem all bad.
6/10 would probably kill god again