Friday, February 3, 2017

Film Friday: Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

I finally got the chance to see Superman v. Batman. Yee haw. What a ride... to nowhere.


Ok. This has some twists and turns, so take notes if you need to. The guy who founded Facebook wants to kill Superman because somethingsomething God. Wonder Woman is in the movie. Facebook tricks Ben Affleck into fighting Superman but he loses, so Facebook sends a generic blobby muscle creature to do it. Superman, Affleck and Wonder Woman kill it, and Superman fakes his death.
Got it? Don’t worry if you don’t, you’ll have about an hour long pointless fight scene you can use as time to think about it. You might want to bring a book.

Who's A Bad Boy?

So what can I say? DC sure knows how not to put together a movie. To sum up this stink-burger, it is fake liberal “drama” randomly sprinkled between tremendous sound and fury signifying nothing.

Here’s the thing. The back half of the movie is designed for idiots who like shiny lights. The front half of the movie needs to offer some explanation for the back half, or people complain. So the front half needed to figure out why Batman and Superman would fight. The answer, originally offered, comes from modern liberalism. Modern liberals are conflicted cowards (except when attacking people “who deserve it”), ergo they think that all heroes must be conflicted types who see the faces of the people “they killed” when they sleep. And naturally, "they killed" anyone they didn't save.
Indeed, the story starts with the public turning against Superman because people died whenever he tried to save the planet. Ergo, Superman is the menace... not the thing that would have killed everyone. That makes no sense except to snowflakes, but Hollywood is packed with snowflakes and “strong” women... the greatest snowflakes of them all.

So Superman is bad.
Now we need to hate Batman, so he brands a couple child molesters and rapists and that shows that vigilantes are just sadistic criminals who target other criminals, making them worse than the people they stop... the standard Hollywood view. “No one is above the law, unless it’s for the right reasons, and stopping criminals is not the right reason!”

So Batman is bad.

Now we just... huh. Crap. This explanation didn’t get us to where we need to be. //scratches head Wait! I know! Lex Facebook send nastygrams to Batman and Superman making them think... You know what? Let’s just cut to the fighting.
There were only two things that interested me in this film. The first was that the bad Senator who tries to make Superman a villain is a Democrat from Kentucky. Why a Democrat? Democrats are never bad. Hmm. Then it hit me. This was Affleck’s dig at his estranged wife, Jennifer Garner, a Democrat from Kentucky. LOL! Niiiiiice!

The other thing is this. The initial discussion of how the public could come to hate Superman offered a promising social commentary on modern cynicism. The problem was, it never fleshed it out. To do this, the film should have been smaller with Superman and Batman in closer contact and coming to dislike the other. The story should be told through assistants who represent the two positions. The cynicism needs to grow: cynical logic being used... increasingly self-aggrandizing armchair quarterbacking... the rise of conspiracy theories believed through confirmation bias and growing paranoia... a growing acceptance of extreme solutions and positions, leading to violence... and then the arrival of opportunism – journalists first, then academics, comedians and finally politicians. Team Batman falls for this, as does the vocal public. Team Superman understands genuine goodness, real logic, actual facts, and the importance of good faith. The fight starts until they remind Batman that the majority of the public isn't this stupid and doesn't deserve to be lumped with the sh*tbirds.

Unfortunately, that would make for a strong, emotional film... not a shiny stupid one. Hollywood also doesn't understand what Superman needs to understand; good faith, logic and lack of cynicism are like a foreign language to them. So Facebook’s plan it is!



tryanmax said...

Andrew, you managed to pull together far more words than I could have in response to this movie. I just remember thinking, "Oh gee, another 45 minute slug fest. ZZzzzzzz."

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, It wasn't easy to sit through this. Fortunately, I had things to do to keep me busy as the punching started.

As I said above, there's really only interesting thing in this movie and it's something they were poorly equipped to handle, so they tossed it out there and then ignored it.

I am finding the whole "heroes are all tortured souls" crap really annoying at this point.

PikeBishop said...

I remember reading one of the plot threads involves a time traveler and I stopped reading right there. I am soooo over time travel. It is such a crutch for lazy writing.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, The time traveling thing was a dream. There were also winged monkey things in the dream. I suspect it's meant to set up something in a sequel, but it didn't play any part I can see here.

ArgentGale said...

I figured this one would be a turd from the start, though I was expecting general nonsensical crap instead of politicized crap. Glad to see I didn't miss anything, though your version of it sounds like it could have been good. Also, didn't the whole condemning the heroes for the people they couldn't save bring down the Captain America: Civil War movie as well? I know not to get my expectations high where Hollywood goes these days but it's still sad to see sometimes.

- Daniel

AndrewPrice said...

Daniel, I don't mean to imply that it's political in the sense of being topical. It's political in the sense that it uses snowflake sensibilities to judge Superman as bad.

In comparison to Civil War, by the way, Civil War is a masterpiece compared to this. Civil War, while messed up at its core, at least has valid competing sides, a genuine conflict, tension and some good moments scattered throughout. This has none of that.

ArgentGale said...

Understood on all counts, Andrew, though when I read the part about Superman I thought more about the war protestors during the Bush years than I did modern delicates. It's definitely a valid comparison, though, and unfortunately I don't think delicate/snowflake sensibilities infecting Hollywood productions is going to go anywhere any time soon, especially not when the celebrities themselves are some of the worst of them. We're definitely in for an entertainment dry spell, huh?

- Daniel

Anonymous said...

I probably have some disagreements with you...but I don't remember the film well enough to flesh them out. Which pretty much says enough. I remember about enough to explain what happened to my wife before we go see Justice League. Oh, and I'm not terribly impressed with Zack Snyder's films in general. Eye candy, but not much deeper than that.

AndrewPrice said...

Daniel, I wouldn't surprise if there is some of that in there too. It wasn't obvious enough that I felt it, but the sensibility was there. Superman was evil. The US government was fascist-like. Batman was a sadist. The news is corrupted. It had that kind of feel to it.

I think we've been in a dry spell for quite some time, sadly.

AndrewPrice said...

Anon, There is certainly room for other opinions. This is how I saw it: not much to it except some phony angst and a fight scene. But I'd been happy to hear from anyone who saw more in it.

ScottDS said...

Don't you start using terms like "snowflake" too! Especially since our president isn't far from one himself. ;-)

I don't think this film is quite the political football you think it is. As I wrote back on BH years ago, sometimes a badly-written movie is simply badly-written - politics aren't necessarily the cause. Like you, I'm totally over the "tortured soul" trope, though I am sympathetic to the idea that a superhero would be bothered by all the people he couldn't save.

Have you watched the Honest Trailer for this one? It's excellent. And on my favorite podcast Hollywood Babble-On, Kevin Smith's co-host is fond of bashing DC's movies. "Oh, I'm Superman. I'm a miserable hobo. Boo-f---ing-hoo!" These movies should be fun but they're not!

I liked Affleck, I liked Jeremy Irons... but the dialogue is 50% trailer lines/50% freshman psych paper. Henry Cavill and Amy Adams don't get to do anything. Eisenberg is all over the place. The plot is ridiculously convoluted. And the movie is 30 minutes too long!

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Allow me to retort...

In terms of politics, I'm not saying the film is "political." It isn't. There's nothing in it that I see as a political statement.

That said, the film relies on "snowflake" reasoning. If there was a Superman who saved people, only the snowflakes would see him as a force for evil because innocent people die despite his efforts. That is retarded reasoning, but it is also snowflake left reasoning - the little group of intolerant whiners who need safe rooms and puppies to deal with ideas the don't like.

Anyways, the problem isn't that Superman is a tortured soul -- that I can buy -- the problem is the idea that the public would ever buy the idea that he was evil for fighting back against evil.

Next... I like Jeremy Irons, but he's not really in the film. Amy Adams and Cavill are pointless except as eye candy. Eisenberg plays a cliche version of his prior roles. Affleck gave himself all the interesting parts. I found him acceptable, but indifferent.

The plot is ridiculously convoluted and yet thread bare at the same time. It really is just: Facebook wants to kill Superman, tries to trick Batman, sends monster, the end. Yet, the ins and outs of the scenes are like hieroglyphics as Snyder tries to create plot through motion. "He's going somewhere, it must mean something."

The movie is way more than 30 minutes too long, and yet an hour too short. It needs a real plot to give the fight meaning, and it needs a short, sweet fight.

I have seen the Honest Trailer. It's a good one.

shawn said...

Well, the reason Batman fights Superman in this movie is because Zack Synder wanted to film the comic "The Dark Knight Returns". The problem with that is the comic takes place during the waning years of these characters and not at the beginning.

I'll admit, I didn't care for the theatrical version, it feels too long and yet it also felt too short as it doesn't convey enough information about the plot. The 30 minutes extra in director's edition is better in my opinion making Lex's scheme easier to follow.

The dream stuff is foreshadowing of the coming of Darkseid, one of DC's biggest villains and foe of the Justice League. But if you don't read the comics, you would have no idea what is going on.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, I saw an animated version of Batman v. Superman. It was dark, ugly and unpleasant. I did not enjoy it in the least. BUT, I have to admit it was much more effective. The story was tighter and the motivations made more sense. It was a good story, even as it was a deeply unpleasant one.

In this case, I agree with you. The film was too long to watch, yet too short to tell the plot. Lex's scheme is confused, random and feels like nonsense.

I definitely realized the dream stuff was foreshadowing, especially with the flying creatures, but it didn't really make much sense in this film unless you guessed that this was foreshadowing and that Batman was motivated by it even though it felt like a dead-end in the film. I had no idea what specifically they were foreshadowing.

shawn said...

Yeah, the foreshadowing was badly done. There is a scene that was cut from the theatrical edition in which Lex is found in the Kryptonian ship with an alien being. Said being was supposed to be from Apocalypse (the world that Batman was dreaming about). Lex also has a line at the end of the movie in which he says something bad is on it's way. My understanding is Synder's first cut of the film ran 4 hours. So maybe in that cut there is something to help make sense of why Batman would be having these dreams. Although I tend to doubt it.

DC's big problem is that they are trying to jump to their "Avengers" movie and not really do the work of building their universe up to it like Marvel did. And they decided to go with the Grimdark with no lightheartedness.

tryanmax said...

On the foreshadowing: it's bad enough when a movie requires you to see another movie to understand the plot. Worse when it requires you to see one that isn't even written yet. (Still not as bad as a movie that requires you to see the mini-webisodes and the limited edition cereal box.)

Ben L. Kemer said...

The real problem with seeing Superman as evil was the fact that he was getting kicked around by Zod in the previous onr, then got lucky in the end. It boggles my mind the reasoning of how a challenged hero is evil because he couldn't just beat the enemy, who was a soldier and more skilled than he was. As for the aftermath. I am so glad that Cartoon Network does goofy shows like Super friends or Justice League Action, treats the superhero genre in a light-hearted, campy, manner. Sometimes comedy is good, especially when it comes to fantasy characters doing rediculous feats.

Ben L. Kemer said...

You would have to be a fan to understand the foreshadowing. But I felt that most, if not all, of Batman's dreams were unnecessary in the film. They could have instead been focused on Superman's side of things. JMO.

shawn said...

Tryanmax- I agree.

Ben L. Kemer- I agree. It was comic book fan wankery. I saw the movie with the wife, she is not a comic nerd and had no idea what the dream business was about.

RGallegos said...

You review was spot on except I liked a little more than you. Lex Facebook was terrible...were we really supposed to take him seriously as a threat? And talk about stinking up the screen. The best parts were when Wonder Woman appeared. Watch for her smile before she goes into battle. What a woman!

AndrewPrice said...

RGallegos, Wonder Woman was great and the trailer for the new movie looks fantastic. I am really interested in that film!

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I like the more goofy versions as well. And you're right about Zod. Zod was a soldier and he had other advantages too. So it's ridiculous to ask why Superman couldn't beat him without damage to the city.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, If his first draft was four hours, then he didn't really have a tight script at all.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That is bad. "Don't worry, you'll understand this movie someday... after we film it."

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