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Batman V Superman Review: Dawn of Boredom

You can’t ruin Batman Versus Superman, right? It’s a slam dunk, a no brainer, even an idiot could come up with a seamless way to pit the Boy Scout morality of The Man of Steel with the revenge fueled philosophy of The Dark Knight. Wrong! Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t bad in the way that Fantastic Four is a total cluster f**k of a film. BVS, is a bad movie in the Spider-man 3 vain, where you have all the pieces of what could be a great story, but you totally drop the ball by trying to cram in too many plot lines and action set pieces. A movie has one job, tell a concise story with clearly defined stakes, based on the emotional core of its lead characters. BVS tries to serve too many masters, and ends up being a muddy and limp product of a studio that’s clearly trying to play catch up with The Avengers. Unless you’re an action junkie that doesn’t care about things like plot and character development, you cannot sit through this sluggish film without wanting to stand up and throw your phone through the screen every twenty minutes. Batman V Superman is like falling in love with a girl you’ve had a crush on since Freshmen year, only to get to Senior Prom and find out that she has a dick. Warner Bros has once again teased us with potential, and left us laying in our tears, lamenting what could have been…

SPOILERS AHEAD



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The film picks up with Ben Afflect’s Bruce Wayne rushing to save a group of employees trapped in a Wayne building during the end of Superman’s battle with Zod. Apparently Gotham is across the bay from Metropolis, and Bruce just took the short trip by company helicopter instead of gearing up as Batman and saving his employees with one of his Bat-Vehicles. Instead of that logic, it’s up to Bruce Wayne to drive through the street in his Fiat to save the day. In the end he manages to save one employee who loses his legs and some random little girl who we never see again. We get it. The fallout from Man of Steel, as noted by Max Landis, was that Superman caused way too much property damage. So now we’re using that as the motivation for Batman to hate Superman.

Here’s my beef. If it were Lucius Fox who died in that office building, Batman fans would know how deep that would hurt Bruce. But no one cares about Frank or Dave or whatever that guy’s name was that died before Bruce could save him. You may think this is nitpicking, but pay attention as this opening scene serves as the motivation for the rest of the movie. Snyder clearly wants the audience to feel that Bruce failed, that he was helpless the same way he was helpless during the murder of his parents, and that lead to a new obsession—Superman. Here’s where that motivation unravels, we’re dealing with The Batman, a character that turns the other cheek 99% of the time and doesn’t give into his darkest desires.

Batman History:

Joker killed Robin: 
Batman did not seek to murder Joker

Joker shot Batgirl: 
Batman did not seek to murder Joker

Joe Chill killed Martha and Thomas Wayne: 
Batman did not seek to murder Chill

Zod brings down a building filled with Wayne Industry employees: Batman NOW wants to murder Superman.

Think about that! This move establishes a Batman that has been around for 20 Years, so we can imagine that this cinematic Batman has already gone through the loss of close friends along with his parents. Now we’re expected to believe that Bruce Wayne, the detective, a man that tried to reason with Harvey Dent’s Two Face because he believed in his goodness, decides to paint Superman as a villain without doing any research? I call bullshit. In Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns, the battle between Batman and Superman was the product of Superman becoming a government puppet. No, you don't need to repeat the comic book motivation, but there needs to be a logical reason why one of the smartest people, Bruce Wayne, would go against character to KILL someone he doesn't know.

Next up we have Superman himself, once again played by Henry Cavill who always seems to be lost in deep thought, or just lost… Superman’s conflict comes from him saving Lois from African Warlords. The media apparently thinks Superman killed these terrorist… who were trying to kill Lois, despite the fact that they were all shot to death. SHOT TO DEATH! Why would anyone hold Superman responsible for terrorist being gunned down and villagers being gunned down in response to the terrorist being gunned down? It’s shaky, but we need this asinine plot point because it gives Amy Adam’s Lois Lane something to do for the rest of the movie… track down the bullets that killed the terrorist to clear Superman’s name. Again! Superman doesn’t use a gun! Why is this such a big deal? A white woman goes to Africa. Black people die. This would not even be news! But I guess we need something other than Zod going 9/11 in Metropolis for the media to question Superman, so there you go—a lazy subplot.

The other part of the theme is Superman as God. What happens when humans meet real life Jesus? They praise him, they hate him, they want to bring him down, it’s complex and meaty. This seems to be the philosophical debate that Snyder wanted to have—What does A Superman mean to man? I think that would have been great in a Watchmen kind of way to question what Superheroes mean on a deeper level… But guess what? It’s an afterthought because this isn’t Man of Steel 2, it’s a Batman reboot movie disguised as a Superman sequel, which means we can’t explore that theme fully, so we give Lex and Martha Kent a few lines about Gods and Monsters. Yawn.

So let’s recap, because all of this stuff takes a good forty minutes to play out on screen: We have Batman mad that Wally from accounting lost his legs in the Zod battle. We have Lois Lane trying to track down a bullet. We have Clark Kent covering football, but he’s more concerned that a giant Batman is in Gotham scaring people in the Gotham projects. That’s not a joke, he really does mention that the poor people are afraid of Batman and that’s why he doesn’t like him. Remember Batman has been around for 20 years in this universe, yet Superman 18 months after Zod’s attack, is just getting around to dealing with the Bat menace across the bridge? ACROSS THE BRIDGE!!! San Francisco to Oakland distance... C’mon people, think about this shit!

Back to Lex Luthor Junior, played by Jesse Eisenberg in this weird wacky schizophrenic way that doesn’t match up with any Lex I’ve ever seen. He’s not a Wiseguy crook like Gene Hackman, he’s not a diabolical business man like Kevin Spacey’s 2006 version, nor is he a strategic tech genius as portrayed in the JLA animated series—here’s he’s just zany Lex who eats jolly ranchers and wants to find Kryptonite to kill Superman because… well they never give a reason other than one of man rubbish lines about “God needs to die”. I was expecting younger Lex to be more creative, more out of the box, but what we get here is Lex as just a plot device. Discovering Kryptonite and wanting to get it back to Metropolis so he can kill Superman because he doesn’t like this alien who he’s never met before in his life. That’s it, that’s his entire goal, no take over the city, no stealing his power, he’s just like Batman, the motivation is to kill this alien that’s done 90% good so far.

The first meeting between Lex/Clark/Bruce at a charity event, shows flashes of what this movie could have been. Lex Luthor and Clark Kent have no relationship. Think about this. The dynamic between Lex, Clark, and Lois is what Superman is all about. Here, none of these characters know each other, which again makes the motivation and interpersonal relationships null and void. Lex is just some guy with money, not the king of Metropolis, so why so serious? This scene does give us the introduction of Diana Prince, played by the drop dead gorgeous Gal Gadot… more on her later.

Lex makes his first move by blowing up a capital building where Superman is being questioned by congress for taking law into his own hands. This plot point is frustrating. If the point of this film is to make Superman seem evil or as if he has an agenda, why not frame this scene in a way that implicates Superman? Wouldn’t Batman now feel as if he needs to put big blue down if he killed a room full of congressmen who were looking to control him? This moment is totally wasted. Frame Superman, enrage Batman, you have your fight organically without all the hullabaloo. But again, nothing is explored because while this is going on, we have Batman having paranoid dreams about The Flash and Darkseid’s Apokolips aliens. Yawn. Batman’s subplot now revolves around hunting down the Kryptonite that Lex is trying to import. Let’s focus on this scene where Batman tracks down the Kryptonite for a moment.

The Kryptonite is on a boat. The kryptonite is transported to a truck. Batman watches all of this. Those of you who played Arkham City or know who Batman is at heart, will realize one thing—Batman would sneak into the ship and take the Kryptonite, because Batman is a F**king Ninja! Instead of Batman doing what Batman would do, he waits for the Kryptonite to be transferred to the truck and then chases the truck. I get it, you have to show the new Batmobile off and have a chase scene because Warner Bros is all about the popcorn movie moments, but it makes little sense logically given that Batman uses his brain more than his racing skills.

Speaking of logic. The first meeting between Batman and Superman comes in this scene, where Superman stops Batman from pursuing the Kryptonite. Superman doesn’t ask, “What are you doing? Who are you chasing? Are those bad guys? What’s your agenda down there terrorizing project folks in Gotham?” He simply tells Batman to retire and calls it “mercy”. What a dick. At this point Superman has figured out Bruce Wayne is Batman (you don’t know this until later but he knows at this point) knowing that Bruce Wayne is not an evil person and that for 20 years the Batman has done more good than bad, why doesn’t Superman have a real talk about “hey, what’s going on with you, Bruce?” It’s just not how these characters would act; it’s how they have to act to make the story work.
Anyway, Batman steals the Kryptonite and weaponizes it. Lois figures out the bullets came from Lexcorp. Superman goes to visit is mother who’s like “Screw these bitch ass humans, son, you don’t owe them shit!” Lex meanwhile goes to Zod’s ship and learns the history of Krypton. Wonder Woman is in the background looking for some stolen picture, I’m not even going to touch that yet.

Anyway. Lex creates Doomsday by mixing his blood with Zod’s body. Batman waits for Superman to come fight him. Lois confronts Lex and is pushed off the roof. Superman comes to save her. Yawn…. hold on, hang in there. Superman is going to arrest Lex, but Lex has Martha Kent (who now works at a diner like 2 Broke Girls) so Superman agrees to kill Batman to save his mother. Talk about lazy! Superman doesn’t just kill people because you tell him to do it, that’s not what the character is about. Even the theory of “talk to Batman first” seems forced because as seen in SUPERMAN II with the power switch trick, The Man of Steel outsmarts his enemies, he doesn’t give into their threats.

Before we get into the actual battle. Let’s go back to Wonder Woman who’s on her Dell computer reading an email from Bruce Wayne… don’t laugh. This email is from Lex’s stolen files on metahumans. We see Cyborg, Aquaman, and The Flash. OMG, there are more like Wonder Woman and Superman out there and Lex has known about it for years! Pause. This is the laziness that I hate about Warner Bros/DC. Imagine Marvel showing Hulk’s origin and the first appearance of Thor via a computer file recording? They literally just threw half the JLA on screen without any buildup. Wonder Woman opens a file, and there you have it: Justice League.
So anyway Batman and Superman fight. It’s a good fight, but at this point the action doesn’t matter to me because the story is shit. Batman beats Superman and is about to kill him, but Superman tells Batman to save Martha. Remember Batman’s mother is named Martha too. Batman can’t let another Martha die. He realizes that Superman is a good guy because he has a mother named Martha. Now Superman and Batman are friends. YAY!

Superman confronts Lex while Batman saves Martha (Kent not Wayne). Lex reveals Doomsday who proceeds to beat the hell out of Superman. The Army decide to nuke Superman and Doomsday because remember Zod, they can’t have that shit again. Doomsday only gets stronger from the nuke and is ready to unleash hell while Superman is out of commission. Batman comes up with the plan to kill Doomsday with his fancy Kryptonite spear. Wonder Woman is on a plane back to Themyscira or maybe Vegas??? I guess her invisible jet was in the shop so she’s flying commerical. She sees Doomsday wrecking shit, so she grabs her carryon bag and goes to help. I’m still wondering how Diana got the sword, shield, and golden lasso through TSA, but who cares she’s awesome.
Superman, Batman, and the awesome Wonder Woman do battle with Doomsday in Gotham. Lois looks for Batman’s Kryptonite spear. Superman uses the spear to impale Doomsday, who impales the weakened Superman. They both die, Superman Issue 75 style.

Funeral for a friend. Batman tells Wonder Woman they have to form a team of metahumans because this is just the start of a bunch of super shit that will happen now. Wonder Woman asks Bruce how he knows this—he says “Bitch, I just know, okay! We have another movie coming out with Darkseid so stop asking questions!” They burry Clark Kent in Smallville in a pine box because Martha (Kent not Wayne) is living off diner tips and can’t afford anything fancy. Lois cries. Batman visits Lex in jail where he’s now bald. We go back to Smallville and Superman is still dead… or is he. *Jazz Hands*


A big stinking pile of inconsistent, rushed, overly long mush. Wonder Woman is great even if she 
were wedged into this movie with no real purpose and I would love to see her explored. We did see Batman fight people in a more engaging way than Nolan’s movies. We saw Superman throw Batman through some walls. And did I already mention Wonder Woman is hot as hell? But there was no substance! HAVE YOU SEEN MY PICTURE is not a real plot for the greatest female hero ever created, it's just proof that they still don't know what to do with her. In the end, nothing really matters because no one is developed. You don’t care about Superman dying because he’s just a crybaby dickhead. You don’t care about Batfleck, because he just acts petty and jealous. You don’t care about Lex because he has no real motive.


So, again, if you just want to see stuff blow up and people get tossed around, then you will probably forget that none of these characters are developed or Batman doesn’t have a real reason to fight Superman. I get it, most people who will see this movie won't care about anything but fighting and special effects, but for those that use their brain cells, this is an insult. 

Maybe I’m being hard on this film, but it pisses me off that we finally get the two most iconic Superheroes on the big screen this is the best they could do. Go watch Steve Rogers debate Tony Stark in the first Avengers movie, and see what real tension feels like. This is just a movie thrown together so we can see things blow up and people punch each other. I’m sure there will be a JLA movie following Suicide Squad, but Warner Bros should keep DC heroes where they work the best and are well developed—On The CW.

   
…maybe this movie will be retconned as just one long dream that Cisco had while waiting for Berry Allen to bring him a big belly burger… we can only hope.









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