Sunday, April 17, 2016

Movies: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (*SPOILERS*)

I liked this movie more than I thought I would—not that I was optimistic to begin with. But that’s about it. DC has ruled animation and television for years, but they can’t compare to Marvel with their feature films. When one takes all joy, fun, humor and inspiration out of a film script, what one has left is a DC movie.

One of the main problems at DC is co-screenwriter David Goyer. Goyer has proven to dislike comic book fans, Americans and fun in general. Why put a person like that in charge of your live-action universe? Goyer’s scripts drip with gloom, misery and contempt for life. That’s his talent, and he does it well.

BvS: DoJ features a decent enough story, but the way it is told could have been so much more hopeful and uplifting. In the movie, Bruce Wayne comes to Metropolis (which is right across the Bay from Gotham City—weird) to kill Superman, in retaliation for Zod’s destruction of that city (which Superman tried his best to prevent). Lex Luthor is also trying to kill Superman by any means necessary. Batman and Superman battle, then team up with Xena Warrior Princess to fight Luthor’s creation Doomsday.

There are so many problems and failed opportunities with this movie. Why is Batman 70 years old? That makes no sense. Why is he trying to kill Superman for something he was trying to help with? Usually Batman, ostensibly a detective, detects stuff before acting. Why is Batman trying to kill Superman at all? Batman doesn’t use guns or kill people, but he does both with gleeful abandon in BvS. Why do Batman and Superman team up with Xena Warrior Princess? Wouldn’t Wonder Woman have been a better choice?

Everything—and I mean everything—about this movie is dark and depressing. Batman looks one step away from suicide in every scene. Superman and his mother are brutalized endlessly. Throughout history, Superman is a bright, inspirational character in a bright, inspirational world. Not so here. There is not one scene in BvS that takes place in sunshine. None. The sun only appears once, in space, surrounded by dark. Everything about the color palette in this film is relentlessly murky, dusty and brown. Ugh. Did the creators not notice this was a superhero movie?

The casting is a mixed bag. Henry Cavill is a good choice for Superman, and does an acceptable job with what he is given. Ben Affleck, probably my least favorite actor—and I can’t believe I’m saying this—actually does a decent job as Batman. Affleck has very little natural acting talent (and thank god they used a stuntman for the fight scenes), but as long as he doesn’t have to emote a lot he gets by admirably on being tall and good looking. Since all he did was look suicidal and grunt, he wasn’t as an offensive choice as I thought he’d be. Plus, they’re getting closer to an acceptable Batman costume with each new film, and with longer ears, this one will almost do. Amy Adams is a monster talent way too good for this movie, but she should have had dark or black hair. Sorry, Lois Lane is not a redhead and never has been. That doesn’t work. Jesse Eisenberg is the odd man out here, with one of the worst performances in movie history. He’s really awful as the manic and twitching Lex Luthor.

The rest of the upcoming Justice League stars appear in brief cameos in the film, proving that DC continues to eschew their own source material and has a major problem with blonde hair.

While the first two acts of BvS are truly terrible, the final act is better. Seeing the heroes fighting together in the total blackness is somewhat fun, although Goyer isn’t happy writing a Superman movie until Superman kills someone. The ending leaves things open for a Justice League movie and a Ben Affleck Batman solo movie, neither of which I have any interest in supporting or seeing. An ounce of color or positivity would help, but that’s as about as likely as Superman going back to wearing his underpants on the outside. Not very.

Rating: **½ stars out of 5 

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