CALLING OUT HATERS: "Batman v Superman" Is A Bad Movie (SPOILERS)
Likely DC Fanboys right now looking at my title
I won't beat around the bush here, for all the shit I gave Man of Steel in my last rant, I now think it could have been worse... it could have been this movie. If Zack Snyder's inaugural take on the Man of Tomorrow gave me no hope, his sophomore take with Supes scene's being stolen by the Caped Crusader gives me no reason to care, whether it'd be about the future of the DC Cinematic Universe or anymore films Snyder churns out.
If I may go on a tangent first of all, just want to get something off my chest: Zack Snyder is a hack. A man who got popular off of verbally lifting other people's works, has just used up his good graces with me as a filmmaker. The guy can direct pretty images for certain, especially with his cinematographer Larry Fong (Who wasn't part of Man of Steel) but as a storyteller he has yet to master the art of compelling filmmaking, films that actually make us give a crap about what's going on.
This was especially prevalent in Sucker Punch where the narrative is so disjointed and full of nonsensical happenings that it gave me little reason to be invested in what should be a woman's mental breakdown before getting a lobotomy. He had an interesting story, and he fucked it up by trying to add layer upon layer of nonsense, filled with random images out of a Comic convention and cheap fanservice. And that was when he was doing an original work. Watchmen was only good because it was borrowing heavily from a classic, not much changed except maybe the tone in which moments are presented which some are less effective than others ("Hallelujah" during an awkward sex scene? Really?) and of course changing the ending moments is still controversial to this day, showing he knows the comic but not quite have the grasp of it. While I respect a filmmaker defending his visions, whenever I read Snyder's defense of something controversial in any of his films I see a man so far up his own ass he likes the smell of his own shit more than any sort of criticism.
And that's what Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is, Zack Snyder's refusal to mature his storytelling. Beyond improving the cinematography and actually having some color in the film, Snyder and Screenwriters David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio not only boldly defy making something that would make up for the glaring flaws of Man of Steel, they double down on it and add an extra ounce of stupidity and incoherence on top of that.
Thought the last movie had poor structure? This movie seems to move from moment to moment without much rhyme or reason, some feeling like they've been cut from a much longer scene. Thought the last film was too dire and joyless? Watch characters endlessly brood and grieve, things taken so serious and straight to a point where Jesse Eisenberg's eccentric over-the-top performance is actually a light of sunshine in compared to the constant darkness (More on that later). Thought the last film had very ill-defined characters? By the end of the movie I could barely make any sense what many of their motivations were and what their character growth was. An actual point of development is devoted to the two heroes having a mother with the same first name, that's how poor the storytelling is, when a joke fans have made for years is treated like a serious moment.
The movie moves in such a way that made me think WHY a lot. Why things happen, why certain characters do the things they do, why is there so many ham-fisted dream sequences? I asked WHY particularly with Lex Luthor's whole scheme that just seems cribbed from a lot of other superhero movies: A corporation behind a large conspiracy that drives the movie? Oscorp in The Amazing Spider-Man movies. Luthor seemingly being a pawn in a higher power's game, particularly hinted at in the deleted scene "Communion"? Loki from The Avengers says hi. But never is there given a motivation to these actions behind some faux-philoshopical talk that makes Kevin Spacey's Prometheus speech in Superman Returns seem reasonable in comparison.
Now how does this movie treat DC's iconic trinity? Not well. Clark and Superman gets even less of a personality in this one, seems to be in a constant state of "why does everyone hates me." The paragon of Truth, Justice and the American Way feels like a person crying in the corner constantly thinking "Where's my respect?" It even gets worse when we have a moment of Superman being summoned to the Senate trying to defend actions for a crime he didn't commit, through a moment that calls back to an earlier scene that Holly Hunter's character has with Lex Luthor (Three words "Granny's Peach Tea") the Senate blows up killing everyone inside except Supes. Yep, no uplifting moments for Superman, watch as we make him suffer more! He even gets a vision of his dead adopted father for good measure. And then he dies, in a moment that never felt deserved, just because you reference a famously fatal confrontation doesn't mean you're the same as it.
Now I've heard many people feel that Ben Affleck's Batman was one of the film's highlights, and yes Affleck has shown quite a number of times of being a capable actor, but here I feel like his Bruce Wayne and Batman is sorely lacking. Beyond looking the part, Affleck just doesn't seem to put much energy into the performance, looking rather stiff and tired, not much passion put into it. I'll blame it on Snyder who seems to really like to drain the talent of respected Oscar-winning actors. Then there is the characterization of the Bat, his rules about no killing... gone, and he goes in more like a commando rather than the fear inducing predator we usually love, stripping him much of his identity. The voice modulated Bat-voice is inspired in theory, but it is given some of the wrong moments to shine, a big "Noooo!" is belted out in one of his dream sequences and yet it is so hilarious because it's like he's yelling it out of a tin can. It's better to use that sort of thing with low tones rather than shouting it, like the "Do you bleed" line we've all been familiar with. I only hope when Affleck directs himself as the Bat, he finds a bit better material to have himself work with.
Then there's Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman... moving on. But in seriousness there isn't a whole lot of her to really judge, she just sort of gets involved in a few moments, especially in the big climax but not enough to think she's ready for her solo film. Gadot isn't terrible, but not exactly stand-out either. Thankfully Diana is for the most part tastefully shot in her short skirted outfit, but one moment in particular felt kind of tasteless when she's sitting upward on the ground, where her legs are in a position that could give a viewer a good look up her skirt and to her crotch. Not as bad or as lengthy as some of the gratuitous moments in Sucker Punch but still noticeable. Classy, Snyder. Thankfully her solo movie has a female director, Monster director Patty Jenkins to be precise, so hopefully we won't get any of that.
The other characters barely matter, Lois Lane is about even more arbitrary and a bigger waste of Amy Adams, her sole purpose seemed to be revealing a plot detail that we likely would have figured out already. Mercy Graves is in the film but doesn't do anything and is ultimately killed, so sorry to say but we won't see Tao Okamoto duking it out with Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn in a future movie. Diane Lane and Lauren Cohen appear just to be a victims (The latter fatally so), Holly Hunter is wasted, and Michael Shannon is not actually in this film it's just a realistic looking dummy, so afraid no more scenery chewing from Zod.
About the bright spots in characters come from Jeremy Iron's Alfred who is still the snarker we all know and love, and Laurence Fishburne's Perry White who is thankfully given more Perry White things to do this time, not just be there because he's there. And as I mentioned Jesse Eisenberg is a stand-out, whilst everyone finds him to be the most repulsive performance in the film, his rather unrestrained bat-shit insane performance seems rather humble in comparison to just about EVERYONE else being an absolute slog to watch. He seems more aware he's supposed to be in a comic book movie, whereas other actors just seem like they're trying to make a tragedy.
There is definitely a tragedy in this film, that this is what we're supposed to expect from the DC Cinematic Universe: Movies that adapt famous heroes to screen without any thought or passion towards them. The film is a combined The Dark Knight Returns and the Death of Superman arc, but not without the history that made them interesting and motivations that are far less emotionally built up. If there is such stripped out adaptations in the future for DC, I am not certain it stands a chance of surviving past Wonder Woman.
And the big problem the movie does spend a great deal setting up the rest of the universe, in the middle of the film where it's supposed to be about Batman and Superman fighting. Yeah it wasn't exactly listed as a positive with Iron Man 2, sure as hell didn't work with Amazing Spider-Man 2 and one of the many flaws to Avengers: Age of Ultron is trying to shoe-horn in the set-up to the Infinity Gauntlet, but at least there was films building up to it. You try to set the table, but I think the filmmakers should have been more concerned about the first dishes they try to serve rather than the main course. Right now what's being served is just a skin, with much of the meat and bones cut out, trying to serve people something big but with any meaningful substance completely stripped away.
Zod help us if Snyder will still do the Justice League movies.
*clasps hands together*
DC fanboys I know you want this movie to succeed so that you can have your own Cinematic universe to rival Marvel's. Hell I welcome some much needed competition from Marvel having a choke-hold on superhero movies, about the closest competition is just a property they still own only movie rights handled by Fox.
But I feel as though in wanting to have this movie succeed you have pretty much become insufferable. Writing off any critics who dislike the movie as Marvel shills and fanboys, that injecting any sort of humor into the movies will make them childish, and any haters are deliberately trying to sabotage Warner Bros and DC's plans. It's a sort of absurdity that is oddly popular in social media, some of the most popular blogs on Tumblr is people just whining how haters just don't get the film, trying to paint a big straw-man to anyone who says a bad word about it.
This sort of attitude is the reason why I swear never to be a fanboy. DC fanboys seem to hop into this tin-foil hat bandwagon because they want their franchise to flourish. But many seem to lack any sense of depth perception, not reading the woods from the trees. They only see the 29% the film has gotten on Rottentomatoes as not just a simple like/dislike ratio but the absolute judgment of quality on films. They don't seem to care to read into the reviews that give a poor or less than positive response to the movie, just see the number as enough to form an opinion "Most critics hate the movie because it isn't Marvel."
But I don't think they realize that there is to film criticism, than comparing companies: A movie has to have structure, a movie has to engage the viewer, a movie has to be well enough to stand on its own, a movie CAN entertain and be serious at the same time. But Batman v Superman doesn't do a lot of those things, and having ignoring a lot of things that have that make what could have been the biggest cinematic clash since Godzilla fought King Kong, into just a joyless slog of a movie.
It shouldn't be given special treatment to what is expected of a film because it's your shining beacon to future movies based upon your beloved heroes. It's not some damsel that needs saving, it's a multi-million dollar picture that was sent to the mass market given a lot of tie-in merchandise, promotion and is made to further a plan for more movies. It's hardly helpless, it's a movie, and thus should be treated and evaluated like a movie.
And I guess it's Marvel shills that made the film drop 68% on it's second weekend without any major new competition or Warner Bros. wanting to re-shoot Suicide Squad for a lighter tone. A lot of people might not actually like this movie, plain and simple. If you feel it's your best chance for a DC cinematic universe, I think you would take the energy trying to paint all critics as shills and actually think about what can make your films better.
I certainly would like better films. I have seen better films with the same heroes. I personally think DC fanboys shouldn't have to settle for this. The heroes are being gutted and hung, and all you care about is trying to keep up with Marvel. But if movies keep on getting made like this, it won't gain traction, it will fall hard to the ground.
End of Rant