Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Batman Versus Superman: Dawn of Justice

I have been dreading the arrival of this movie since I first heard about it. Zach Snyder did 300 which I hear is done frame by frame like the comic book by Frank Miller. As a movie, despite all the Homeric-eroticism, it is just a pathetic film. The trailers that I watched did not inspire me with confidence. Dudes in riot gear were bowing down to Superman and Batman was sneering at him through a rubber mask permanently set in a sneer saying a stupid line ("Do you bleed... You will). All I saw was more bad Frank Miller script, which I take to mean "bad storytelling with incomprehensible reasoning." The early reviews I read on the movie were awful. Words like "incomprehensible," "illogical," and "constipated" were being used in even the nicer ones.

Still on the day of its release, which was Thursday March 21st, despite its advertised March 22nd, I bought a ticket. Not just any ticket, but a "select" reserved seat which was available for $21 dollars. Like the worst of any William Castle movies from the 50s, the presentation was in 3-D, and the seats buckled and leaned back and forth with the action going on the screen in front of the ticket-holder. Luckily a friend gave me a "coupon" code, which bought me the ticket for $7 because I was a "true Batman fan." I had had a few beers and shot of Ardbeg (whiskey so bad it's green) before showing up. Seeing how awful the last Star Wars flik was, and the need for movie factories to use Trademarked franchises to sell train wrecks of motion pictures, I wanted to be pretty numb.

About ten minutes into the movie, I dialed back my seat controls to as low as it would allow-- it wouldn't let me just shut it off so I had to deal with a machine kicking my seat every few minutes or so. Around the time that Laurence Fishburne cracked his character's second joke, which I laughed at easily, I started letting my guard down about the movie. By the second action scene, I was in love. A little over two hours later, I was still in love and starting to respect Zach Snyder as not only a capable director, but a fan of Superman. From one over-aged adolescent to another, the man gets comic book and has done DC justice.

Batfleck is Bruce Wayne not just the Batman

Sure Superman is young and fresh. He always should be, but the Bat-Man is where every 35-plus fan of comic books is, at the height of their powers, but, to paraphrase Jeremy Iron's Alfred, not dead yet, despite at least two decades of trying. We get to see posh a cocktail party given by multi-billionaire then work in James Bond style espionage and hot chicks complete with fabulous shoulder blades and an accent. We also get to see him beat up that spare tire that men of a certain age carry around their waistline most of the time. A bit more seriously, the role of Bruce Wayne for all of its orphan porn, is probably better written than any other take on the character to date. This makes up for the 90s toy and booklet favorite, the "power-armor" tribute of the last part of the movie.

The Wonder Woman movie just might be as exciting as Wonder Woman

Both the smooth world-building and the later rock-em, sock-em part of the movie featured a Wonder Woman that was almost as interesting as the the history of the now seventy-something year-old character created by William Moulton Marston. The directing influences of this take of the princess of power have decided that since she is immortal that perhaps World War Two is a bit quaint for her introduction. Her pictured super-friends from 1918 was almost as exciting as Hans Zimmer's Led Zeppelin/Beethoven-inspired soundtrack around her.

Girlfriends around the world might disagree

This is the best superhero live-action flik ever. Call me a fanboy, which is rather rich considering my penchant for being disagreeable with much of recent comic book-based media production history (since 1988). I have a pretty specific criteria for what makes a good superhero flik. So far the professional reviews will not decrease my love of this motion picture.

What is my criteria for a good motion superhero flik?

1.) The viewer should understanding why a superhero is needed quickly
   BatsVSupes is at a disadvantage. It's been three years since Man of Steel came out introducing Amy Adam's Lois Lane to the world and that's like yet another four Marvel Comic's movies introducing female about 1,600 characters that mimicked the DC heroine. BUT this movie is a part of an on-going saga, and potential threats to Earth from outer space has been established.
   The movie re-capped and added detail to this threat as seen in Zach Snyder's first handling of Superman. It also introduces why a street-level superhero like the "bat-man" is paying attention to our planet's first extraterrestrial immigrant within fifteen minutes. To help you along, in case you're not a big MoS fan, there are plenty of sequences showing the superheroes and their place in the world around them.

2.) The action scenes should be understandable
   Since about Transformers: The Over-Budgeted Movie, Part One, there has been a tendency to make things so action-packed that no one in audience knows what is going, except for what the soundtrack is inferring. I've watched blurred information occur again and again from the Avengers and Star Wars VII, and most movies in-between.
   In this movie I watched: Superman save Lois Lane from Al-Shahbaab, Batman witnesses 9-11, Superman and Batman meet for the first time, and things get really more complicated. At no time did I have to ask myself 'what just happened?' This is not the film-makers' pretense to leave out mere-human comprehension for better understanding because of sound effects and music.
3.) Characterization is not a substitute for plot.
   If the superhero movies keep retelling the origin of a superhero while introducing a new cast along with the film-makers' current favorite villain (usually with more CGI than the last one), the franchise is about ripping off the audience's love of older, and probably better, movies.
   Okay Batman gets his story re-told here, but in the fictitious, and factitious, "Superman True Fans Club," he is a new character in this saga. If anything, a scene where he is defeating an established villain of the DC universe(s) should have been included.

And... ?

There about two hundred comic book titles that I would like to see made into live-action movies with just enough CGI to have them not suck. At the same time, I like film. What is a CGI-epic and CGI-driven franchises does not always fall into what a major motion picture should be. What I like about this movie is that it covered a lot of character history, in a single flik and without relying too much on noise and flash.
Dawn of Justice makes the movie that came before it a somewhat better tale to watch. I have to wait for the next one to get a fuller perspective of the cycle being presented. All that said, I have enjoyed this movie.

About the bad press

Someone must be paying for it.

1 comment:

Jay Murphy said...

Thanks for posting your review. I look forward to seeing this movie.