Monday, April 11, 2016

"Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice" ☆☆☆☆☆ (Review)

Spoilers ahead...

I  saw this movie last week and enjoyed it.


I am completely baffled by the intense dislike of this film by the critics. Were Marvel Studios' efforts akin to the works of Shakespeare, Poe, Faulkner, Cervantes, Fitzgerald, Salinger, Dorothy Parker and Guy De Maupassant? Is there a bias?

I didn't find this film "dark", "boring", "depressing", "overlong" or "stupid". If you've been actually reading DC's superhero comics anytime within the last 3 or 4 decades, it's very faithful to the source. But it's not the funeral dirge that it's been likened to. These characters are not comedians, nor are they TV show characters making TV series-style quips; if they did make cracks, it would be in relation to real things as they happen (for ex: the "Is she with you?" "I  thought she was with you!" bit in the film).

Maybe it's a conditioned response. This movie had a four year buildup; sixteen years if you count the initial mention of a Batman vs. Superman film pitch that would've been directed by Wolfgang Peterson - this was during a fallow period when the Batman film franchise was thought to be dead after Batman and Robin and different ideas for a revival were tossed around Hollywood, including a live-action Batman Beyond and a Batman: Year One adaptation that Frank Miller and Darren Aronovsky developed. The Superman/Batman comic book from 2003, a revival of World's Finest, was obviously launched in anticipation of this movie (a reprint of the first issue was offered as a free giveaway comic to coincide with the premiere; DC went out of there way to revise the title credit page to add Bill Finger's name, in keeping with current tradition).

So, with the long wait, who can expect good reviews from critics, podcasters and bloggers who say things like: "I got a bad feeling about the choices Warner Brothers is making with this movie", "I don't really have high hopes for this film", "Zack Snyder is the worst choice for this movie"...with that attitude, you cannot possibly be engaged, you are stuck with the idea that you are watching a disaster.

All I feel I can really say is that I liked it..and I'm glad I didn't follow the bad reviews, otherwise I would've missed out on an entertaining launch that I hope won't be derailed. Yes, it is a sequel to Man of Steel. Yes, Jimmy Olsen gets killed within the first 15 minutes.* But this film is far superior to Man of Steel. It's short on jokes about underoos and flippant references to ancient video games and doesn't rely on cheap heat by sampling pop songs. And the bonus scenes that Marvel Studios usually saves for after the credits are offered before the third act, instead (enough bonus scenes for 4 separate movies, to be speciffic). And maybe the funeral scene at the end could've been shortened by a minute (and is the act of a hand bursting through a coffin exclusive to only vampires & zombies, but not heroes? Why couldn't we see a stronger image of Superman coming back from the dead? Or am I tapping into touchy subject matter?).

You know what? This film was cool. Go see it. I had fun. The people who hated this movie can go take their reviews and wipe their asses with them. Ben Affleck is a great Batman. Henry Cavil has gotten more comfortable as Superman. Gal Godat is a fantastic Wonder Woman. Amy Adams is kind of bland as Lois, though her scenes with Cavil are good. Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor may get his mannerisms and wardrobe choices from Heath Ledger's Joker, but make no mistake, beneath the affectations, this is the manipulative, Machiavellian, egocentric meglomaniac of the modern age comics, so it's very entertaining to see how the two incarnations of Luthor manage to mesh well.

Enough. Go see it.

*DC Comics had a "Jimmy Olsen Must Die!" lapel pin made available at one point; he must've grated on people over the last 77 years.

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