Ok, no unnecessary hating here, I enjoyed Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (I refuse to just use “V” in the shoddy, made for easy hashtags title). I hadn’t read a full review but rather gleaned opinions from small nuggets from them, and of course the rather divided reaction from social media. So, as always, I found it best to make up my own mind. Zack Snyder is not a great film director in the sense that the pacing of action and narratives in this film especially is quite incoherent. And how this film only got a 12A is beyond me. Several children, who admittedly were probably under the age of 12 but with a parent, walked out because they were too scared. But what I will do is talk about some of the things that stuck with me, good and bad, and bear in mind I do this from a entertainment and critical point of view, not from a fan of the comic books, which I am not. Therefore…
SPOILER ALERT – THERE WILL BE SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT. DO NOT READ IF YOU INTEND ON SEEING THIS MOVIE.
Got it? Good.
1: The worst jobs in acting are Thomas and Martha Wayne
Beyond the fact that you are guaranteed to get some screen time and a death scene, which ultimately means lots of lying down acting, this has to be the worst repeated roles in the comic book franchise. I mean, we are in some confusion as to what Batman this actually is, and we’re expected to know his past and the history of the character by the fact that Wayne Mansion is burnt down (which would put this between The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises in the current film canon). But then you have the the Joker defaced Robin costume so, this goes where? Best not to think about it. Anyway, we are expected to know exactly who Bruce Wayne is, exactly who Batman is and who Alfred is (who it must be said is very ably played by Jeremy Irons – You’ve always got to have a good Alfred). So a) why do we need another establishment that Bruce Wayne is an orphan by revisiting the shooting of his parents, b) why is this now in the street and not in an alley, and c) why does the criminal, who has already killed two people, not bother killing Bruce, thereby ridding himself of a key eyewitness?
The biggest problem I had, which is partially editorial, is that Martha Wayne quite clearly gets shot directly in the face at point blank range. I mean the pearls falling looked cool, but logistically she was shot, point blank right in the skull. So when a few seconds later we see her face, as if nothing happened, the belief is snapped. At least close up to the eye so you can’t see anything but it’s still implied. It’s picky and petty but if you’re going to have someone shoot a gun and then ignore that fact three shots later, then what’s the point? For some falling pearls?
2: Lois Lane in the bath
This scene can just fuck right off. THERE IS NO NEED FOR THAT SCENE TO BE PLACED IN THE BATH WITH A NAKED WOMAN. Yes it’s a natural “Hey, me and Clark are comfortable and he can come in to the bathroom whenever he wants because we’re cool like that.” And yes, Lois has just got back (presumably not via Superman due to her baggage being with her) from being held hostage in Africa. I’m sure the first thing you want to do is have a bath. But Clark coming back in at that point? And the excruciating and carefully cropped shots to avoid any slippage of implied nudity to actual nudity are there for what? Titillation? Strong dialogue? A human setting? Why not have it after the bath in a towel? Hell, WHY NOT EVEN HAVE IT IN THE BATH AT ALL AND HAVE CLOTHED PEOPLE HAVING A CONVERSATION! This being in the bath brought nothing to the scene except really hard to do editing and on set water work, and I can only believe that the director just HAD to have that scene in the bath so Clark can show his human love side by jumping in with her. NO, DIRECTOR, YOU DO NOT NEED THAT. YOU DON’T GET BROWNIE POINTS BY FORCING AN AWKWARD NUDE SCENE IN TO A 12A MOVIE. Have you seen Fair Game with Cindy Crawford and Alec Baldwin? Terrible sex scene just before a battle, brought nothing. Have you seen Bad Company with Laurence Fishburne and that awful sex scene on a deck chair to an obviously painted sunset on a beach? It brings nothing to those movies and it brought nothing to this except a heck of a lot of editing work and that’s all I can think of really. Unnecessary.
3. Republican BatFleck
Did anyone else notice how much Bruce Wayne was George Bush Jr. mixed with James Bond for 70% of the movie? Although I personally think G.B. Jr. would see himself as the Jack Ryan type rather than a secret agent. “If there’s a 1% chance” is the quote, meaning that if there is a 1% chance that this guy might become bad then that means I need to DESTROY HIM NOW WITH ALL THE WEAPONS I CAN MANUFACTURE before he’s a threat. The parallels here to actual common thought that satire programs in the US have spent the past fifteen years dining out on is incredibly evident. A scared, rich individual who can command a lot of power decides to take preemptive action against a threat that doesn’t exist yet fully, and if it does become a threat, it’s unlikely that anything can be done anyway. Batman is a vigilante that has gone over the line with torture and oppressive violence in an effort to find a weapon of mass destruction with his only link being the White Portuguese. Turns out he finds Kryptonite, but the overtones are incredible. Wayne’s family fortune being built upon the Railroad and Oil is almost parody – Prescott Bush was a Railroad and steel tycoon and his son, George H.W. Bush (41st President of the USA), was an oil tycoon. Then there’s his son, George W. Bush… Batfleck. Just saying. Little did they know it would be a terrorist attack from their own American-Germanic industry mogul on a key American landmark and house of Democracy, yada yada yada, this isn’t a “Has Fallen” franchise film. Plus the glass reveal… More on that in a bit.
4. Wonder Woman
Fucking ay, what a revelation Gal Gadot is! She’s a great Wonder Woman, with an excellent slow reveal (perfect for the movie and the length) and an awesome back story that’s part origin and enough mystery for us to want to know more. Certainly, she got the best musical cues in the film. I went from listening to a rather drab Hans Zimmer/Junkie XL piece (I’m not the biggest Zimmer fan, sorry, despite occasional nods to Danny Elfman’s Batman score), to suddenly thinking I was listening to Bear McCreary pulling out the best part of his Battlestar Galactica drumming and distorted guitar. Best thing in the movie by far and certainly an incredible debut. Also, I hate The Flash. Sorry, I just can’t go past Grant Gustin being that character. He’s owned it for the past two years and, sketchy Justice League reveals aside, he honestly looked incredibly dull, not the charismatic pun master that we know and probably love.
5. Hipster Douchbag Luthor
Ok, so hipster douchbag guys were probably the rage when this movie was conceived, written, and probably shot (October 16th 2014 is the presumed wrap date). And it has to be said that Jesse Eisenburg plays them well. His slightly enigmatic yet oddly disturbing turn as Mark Zuckerburg proved that. As are his initial outings as Lex Luthor (a character last portrayed by Kevin Spacey on the big screen – big shoes), with his quivering face over-acting his bottled rage. The Senator sees straight through him like the spoilt little shit he is. But during this “father’s study” scene, he turns in to Heath Ledger’s Joker. A supposedly unpredictable yet actually fully thoughtful and conniving psychopath, who uses mercenaries to do his kidnapping dirty work, whilst he plays with an egg timer, a painting, a sweet, and, most importantly, the jar of “Granny’s Old Piss” that the Senator is left in the hearing room before an unintentional suicide bomb attack happens. I’m not a reader of the comics so I don’t know if that’s the kind of move Luthor would play, but I’ve always seen him on screen as this suave business type who’s bent on power, not bent on playing with his folly. But as we leave him shaved headed (thank god because that mop on Eisenburg’s head was distracting), wobbling his eyebrows against the bars of his cell, we’re left with the overall impression that if you wear light coloured suits that were probably got from a vintage market, along with a tennis polo shirt and funky socks, then you’re a cross between a hipster, the Joker and something out of a J.G. Ballard book about a corrupt Costa Del Sol resort. Well played but flawed in conception for me.
6. Big bad monster
Ever seen Torchwood? Ever seen the season finales? Well a lot happens in Cardiff. Great big monsters like Abaddon come from the void to reign terror on random access roads and landfill. This monster in Batman V Superman, this beast of Krypton (which was actually part human, a point conveniently forgotten and therefore surely a weakness compared to Kryptonian stuff) just felt like a monster of the week. It felt like Michael Shannon wish he’d put “bastardised mutation of my body to create a semi-resemblant face” in to his royalty contract. It was an A to B device and I’m sure the first thing Luthor would have done whilst in control of massive super human technology is not make a big ol’ freak to wipe everyone out. The worst thing though is how disorientating the action scenes are. There’s lots of lights and effects but very little fighting is seen because it happens too fast or is masked around all of the stuff going on around it. It kind of ruined the point where you get to see all three work together (the point of the movie as a whole) by glossing over any of the cool fighting they could have done. The Superman/Batman battle did compensate for this but you knew that wasn’t the payoff, so why not show more, and dial down the old effects there? Speaking of effects…
7. Dreams Vs False Dreams
Poor old Batfleck is having a shitty time of late. He imagines himself in a dust jacket being held captive by Super Jesus (Henry Cavill rose to prominence playing Jesus – Irony?). He imagines himself being lifted to safety by an air current generated by hundreds of helpful bats. He imagines a time traveller (according to the wiki) who tells him that Lois Lane is the key. There’s a massive disconnect between what’s dream and reality. Which is fine, depending on how often you use that device. Once is probably enough. But it happens three times and one of those times is a false ending to a dream. It’s one of those things (as I writer I can vouch for) that you write and think “that’s really fucking awesome, well done me, get on board my hype train,” but actually ends up as “oh do fuck off, double dreams? Gah, tell a story you prick and stop using supernatural Deus Ex Machina to get your plot moving.” A plot point in that dream that is never acted upon by Batfleck so, ultimately it’s a pointless scene, right now anyway. Who know’s what it will mean in the grand scheme of things in this DC mimics Marvel movie arc.
Like I said I enjoyed the movie, more so than Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, which I found to be rather tepid and screaming of a bunch of people who were ready to end their contracts to the franchise, directors and actors alike. But there’s interesting things to be had here as long as the next movie (which I assume will be a Justice League based movie now) furthers this now potential trilogy of Kryptonian comes to Earth and shatters our reality and rich mad folk get scared and become arseholes. Yes I think you can see this movie as a sequel to Man of Steel and that the overall arc is that aliens have come but were here all along anyway. Works for me.