Sunday, March 27, 2016

Batman V Superman: Not Bad Just...Disappointing

I have seen Batman V Superman at last.  I went in with low expectations considering the movie had 30% on Rotten Tomatoes.  But it really wasn't all that bad.  Parts of it were even good.  But I left the theater feeling disappointed.  Below I'll discuss the reasons why.  If you haven't seen the movie, consider yourself warned, ahead there be spoilers.

I'll start with Batman.  I liked Ben Affleck in the role.  And a lot of his scenes were pretty cool. The hints of past conflicts with the Joker and possibly the death of Jason Todd were great. They played up the detective aspect a little bit, but still didn't give it enough attention.  This Batman was pretty brutal, but I expected that knowing they were using the Frank Miller version as inspiration.  My main issue with this portrayal of Batman was that he seemed awfully fond of guns an murder.  Both his Batmobile and his Batwing came equipped with machine guns which he used quite freely.  Batman has a dislike for guns since his parents were murdered with one.  During the chase scene where he was trying to take the Kryptonite from Lexcorp he killed about 15 guys.  (That's just a number I pulled out of my ass by the way, I didn't do a count.)  He was making cars explode with people inside them left and right.  Batman isn't supposed to take life so lightly, even criminal life.

Lex Luthor's portrayal was much more frustrating.  He is supposed to be the biggest threat to Superman due to his intellect.  He is able to charm his way out of trouble with authority.  He is able to stay one step ahead of the heroes.  Some of that came through, with Lex figuring out Superman's alter ego of Clark Kent, Maneuvering Batman into stealing the Kryptonite to kill Supes, getting access to the Kryptonian ship to create Doomsday.  But a lot of this was undermined by the rambling, incoherent way of speaking that he had.  He came across a a lunatic rather than a cold, calculating schemer.  Every time he babbled his way onto the screen I couldn't wait for the scene to end.

My main fear going into the movie was that it would be bogged down with elements building up for Justice League.  There was some of that, but it didn't detract from the movie as much as I was afraid it would.  It was done pretty well.  Actually felt much more natural here than it did in Age of Ultron.  Which is good, because the movie was already being bogged down with all the weird dream sequences.  Most were from Batman, him being lifted into the air by a vortex of bats as a child, a bat creature smashing it's way from his mother's tomb to attack him.  The strangest by far was the bizarre daydream he had of Superman ruling the earth as authoritarian dictator, with both a human army and an army of what appeared to be Parademons.  This dream ended with a fake out of him waking up only to see who I assume was the Flash warning him about Superman, then he really woke up.  This sequence was long, confusing, and unnecessary.

The most disappointing thing about the movie was that all of the big reveal moments that should have raised goose bumps and brought cheers, had all been spoiled in the trailers.  The Robin suit with the Joker's message painted on it.  The first shot of Superman facing off against Batman.  The first shot of the Big Three standing side by side to do battle.  The reveal of Doomsday as the villain that brings the three together.  Now I know what some of you will say.  What about the death of Superman?  That wasn't in the trailers.  No it wasn't, but as soon as Doomsday was revealed most people familiar at all with the comics guessed where they were headed with it. And that leads to another disappointment with the movie.

The death of Superman was wasted by being used so early in the game.  This version of Superman was hated or mistrusted by a good portion of the people of Earth.  He was still moody and angsty and had not yet become the symbol of hope that he was in the comics.  He had just met the two other heroes who stood by him at the end.  He hadn't built of the relationships, the good will, the respect and honor that gave his death such an impact in the comics.  By killing him off in the second movie of their franchise, the film makers tried to cash in some emotional chips that they had not earned yet. And by setting up his return at the end of the movie, they remove any stakes from the coming Justice League movie.  Even if he is killed, he'll just get better.  And in this version it apparently takes only a few days and not the year that it took in the comics.

As for the other heroes shown in the movie, Wonder Woman was cool but was too obvious in setting up her movie.  We were already going to go see it, just focus on the story you're telling us right now.  The Flash was a little weird, and looked surprisingly like a hobo for a police scientist.  Aquaman's bit was sort of boring and he could have made a better impact by showing up during the final battle and helping to retrieve the Kryptonite spear that had fallen in the water.  Cyborg was the one member of the upcoming Justice League that I felt shouldn't be there.  To me he is a Titan.  Which makes it unexpected that his little intro clip was the only one that I thought was really cool and thoroughly enjoyed.

I feel like this could have been a really good movie.  Remove the dream sequences.  Restore Batman's code of honor and detective skills.  Make Lex less psychotic and more menacing.  Instead of having him create Doomsday, have him create Bizarro as the main villain.  This would leave Doomsday and the death of Superman for a later movie when it had more earned. Then make the trailers as minimal as possible so the money shots actually have an impact in the theater.    It was an okay movie, which for a movie as highly anticipated as this is a bit of a shame.  I am sure it will still earn a ton of money.  But it was disappointing in many ways.

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