Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Sunset of Me Giving a Damn)

Hi there! Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, a Batsignal against the Gotham night of the internet. I'm Dave-El and I thought she was with you.  

The El family ventured forth from the Fortress of Ineptitude to go see this weekend's epic super hero blockbuster cinematic event, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. I will admit we did not necessarily do this willingly. The multi-review pile up on the movie interstate did not present a very flattering picture of this movie. And to be honest, various trailers had done little to alleviate my own misgivings about BVS. 

Still, I am...or rather was...a big DC Comics fan and there was a certain nostalgic lure that compelled me to see this movie, bad reviews be damned. It was the same thing that led me to go see Green Lantern even in the aftermath of very negative reviews. 

Also it was a Sunday afternoon, we didn't have anything better to do, we had some disposable income to dispose of so let's go see a movie. Since My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 was not considered an acceptable alternative, we went to see Batman and Superman beat the crap out of each other.

I want to set the right mood for this post so let's get some positive stuff out front first OK? 

The trailer for The Nice Guys with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling looks straight up off the hook gonzo. And my daughter is psyched by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel trailer (despite her deep and abiding hatred of all things Michael Bay). 

Oh, before the movie, I ate a really good hamburger at Applebee's. The El family haven't been to Applebee's in years. We actually had other dining plans for Easter Sunday but our favorite pizza place (Elizabeth's) was closed for Easter which I didn't know was a thing that could actually happen. Anyway, that hamburger was very juicy with a sweet mesquite type flavor that I quite enjoyed. 

And that is the positive portion of today's post. 

OK, I'm being a bit snarky. OK, a LOT snarky. There were some good things about Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. 

  • Gal Gadot is quite enchanting as Wonder Woman
  • Jeremy Irons is perfectly acerbic as Alfred who does very little butlering and appears to be more Batman's tech support. 
  • And Ben Affleck haters, not to bring you down but Affleck does not suck as Bruce Wayne, aka Batman
  • Henry Cavill still looks convincing as Superman and Clark Kent although there's very little opportunity to explore much beyond his angst over Superman being loved and hated at pretty much the same time. 
  • I still like Amy Adams as Lois Lane who, despite being in a movie with 3 super heroes, still has quite a bit of stuff to do even if some of that "stuff to do" is to be a rescued damsel in distress (no less than three times).  
  • Action sequences are the lifeblood of a super hero movie and those moments in BVS do not disappoint. 

But what does in BVS is a very disjointed, almost scattershot story structure. Bringing Batman into the mix with, developing why Bruce Wayne is so determined to go after Superman, showing Alfred's frustration with Bruce and his mission, the Senate hearings into if Superman is a threat, Superman/Clark agonizing over his role in the world, Lex Luthor's shenanigans, checking in with the cast over at the Daily Planet, dream sequences of the past and premonitions of the future, bringing in Wonder Woman into the mix, planting the plot thread that there are other meta-humans on the planet (got to make sure we're setting up the sequels), introducing a super duper alien monster for everyone to fight...whew! 

It's the storytelling equivalent of Whack-A-Mole. 

And does every single scene in this movie have to be so dark? I mean not just in tone but in a very literal sense. This film is pervasive with overcast skies and muted colors.

The problem is that Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is less a movie and more a marketing device for Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment to quickly brew up a movie universe for its comic book characters. There are boxes that have to be checked over over the course of BVS's 2.5 hour run time (and trust me, you will feel every minute of it ) if Warner Bros. and DC wants to have a cinematic universe like the one Disney and Marvel currently reap incredible benefits from. 

But the Marvel Cinematic Universe evolved organically from the first Iron Man movie and onward. There was a plan in place and Marvel, to it's credit, have followed that plan with each new movie adding a new piece to the puzzle. BVS tries to assemble a puzzle in one go because DC needs to catch up to Marvel and they need to do it NOW. 

Now there's one more thing I haven't addressed about Batman V Superman and that's the villain at the center of it all, Lex Luthor. First of all, I gotta give Jesse Eisenberg props for actually doing something different with Lex Luthor, different from Gene Hackman, Kevin Spacey, John Shea, Clancy Brown and Michael Rosenbaum who have brought Superman's nefarious super genius arch enemy to life in film and television. Without a doubt, Eisenberg's version of Luthor is most distinctive from all other versions. And to my mind, Eisenberg's interpretation of Luthor is a mistake. 

In BVS, Luthor teeters on the edge of insanity from the very first moment, making him immediately a character for everyone to be wary of. There is no effort at charm or effective engagement but instead Lex seems bereft of almost any social skills. Why would anyone want to do business with this guy? I mean, the audience knows Luthor's supposed to be bad guy but it shouldn't be that obvious to other characters around him. Yes, in a way, Eisenberg's Luthor makes a certain amount of sense, a super genius damaged in his youth by an abusive father. But his characterization does not bridge the gap between respectability and evil that Lex Luthor requires to be effective in Superman's world.  

And don't get me started on peeling away at the stinky onion that is Lex Luthor's master plan which was, as best I can figure it, manipulate Batman and Superman into fighting each other and whoever doesn't kill the other gets squashed by his alien Frankenmonster, Doomsday. I'm not sure what exactly Luthor was hoping to gain from all this plotting which relied on a lot of coincidences, happenstances and people being inordinately blind and/or stupid.

Oh for the days when all Luthor wanted to do was turn Arizona into beach front property by dropping California into the sea. Now THAT made sense.

In the end, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice has many, many parts, any number of which have a case for being effective in their own way. But the sum of those parts is lacking. A super hero movie, even a really good one, is ultimately a movie time confection, a dessert more than a meal. But instead of an expertly layered cake, BVS leaves us with a messy mishmash of ingredients stirred randomly together.  


Before I wrap this up, I want to give a shout out to a DC team up done right. This past Monday's episode of Supergirl with Grant Gustin guest starring as The Flash from his own series on the CW was amaze-balls! It was a perfect mix of action, drama and humor as Kara Danvers welcomes Barry Allen from an alternate Earth. 

And just in time too as Supergirl is getting double teamed by Livewire and Silver Banshee. Meanwhile the people of National City still hasn't quite come to terms with Supergirl's Red Kryptonite freak out from two weeks ago. This is a perfect time for a new super powered friend to show up and help out with things.  

Unlike Batman V Superman which ran on too long, Supergirl's team up with the Flash left me wanting to see more of this heroic duo in action. All told, I would say Monday's episode of Supergirl was among the best if not THE best episode of the series. 


OK, that's all I've got for today. Another new post is on it's way tomorrow. Until then, remember to be good to one another. 

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