Monday, April 11, 2016

We Agree: Batman v Superman

2016, Zack Snyder (Sucker Punch) -- cinema

p.s. I shouldn't have to tell you but I spoil the fuck out of this movie.

Aargh.

I didn't intend on starting this post before finishing a couple of others, but the voices kept on growling from the back of my mind. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of watching this movie. I see what Zack was trying to accomplish. I feel with him the emotions he wanted to uncover while dealing with these characters. I understand the epic nature of gods vs man that he wanted to show us. But then all the other bits of the movie immediately came back to haunt me, and they are just so annoying.

As Kent said, it's not a bad experience, but it's not a good movie.

You heard me complain before, but I was upset at the destruction and collateral damage in Man of Steel. But after I heard it was just a plot device to move towards this movie, I understood it and even slightly applauded it. Like the Nolan Batman movies had to slay major characters and affect major parts of Gotham, in order to set us up for the weary, angry, bitter Batman, Snyder is setting us up for the motivations of this movie. Heavy handed and obvious, but well setup. We need the superman to protect us from the greater threats, but at what cost? Like the Doctor Who theme, in that he is always there when the worst happens to Earth, but is he to blame? No, if he hadn't been there, it would have been much much worse. I get that if Superman had let his attention waver from Zod for even a bit, more would have died. Despite my love of the grimdark, I prefer my Superman to surprise us with his heroism.

But it sets up this movie wonderfully.

Superman continues his bid to be the protector of the planet, to be the hero the planet needs. But he is presented with so much distrust. There are protestors who don't trust the alien, there are even placard waving fundies who cannot trust the man who could be a god. I guess they believe the metaphor more than their faith? And there is Bruce Wayne, who lost his entire tower in Metropolis from an errant laser eyed glance. From Superman? Zod? Who knows, but it cut his tower in half. Bruce Wayne protected his employees like they were his second family, and as a man who was dealing with all the shit on his own (in his cape & cowl) being helpless was too much for an already very broken man. You see, by the time Superman shows up to fight Zod and his machinery, Bruce Wayne is already the broken man, still hung up on the death of his parents (Maggie and Neegan!) and taking it out on the criminal underground of Gotham. Superman becomes the new focus of this wrath, albeit through impotent rage.

The whole "setting up Superman" bit via an attack in the African desert is ludicrous. One event in a war torn country is silly. And the accusations wouldn't take much to defuse considering the actual murdery stuff was done by the government of that nation, not even related to Superman's intervention. The only thing I can consider is that Lex Luthor's skilled control of the media is capable of washing away facts and only presenting what he needs to further instill hostility against Superman. It just could have been better written.

So, broken Batman wants, needs to go up against Superman. But I don't actually get his motivations. Sure he blames the flying man's arrogance for causing so much wanton damage, but does he actually believe the alien needs to die for it? I am not convinced. I know he is having his prophetic dreams of alternate world Superman comic plots, but kill him? I suppose that is why this is a gatling gun toting Batman, killing mooks in the scores.  So, steal the kryptonite, make the gas bombs & spear, beef up so you can wear the anti-Superman armour and... well, everything else is manipulated by Lex Luthor so I am not sure what Batman's next move was supposed to be.

That. Lex Luthor in this movie is great, but he's just Joker Jr. He's giggly, he's a little mad but he's smart and very very rich. Still not sure why he wants Superman dead. Big Bad Guy playbook, I guess. But he's his own red herring.

And then the Justice League inserts. While I love every scene with Gal Gadot in it, it was entirely unnecessary to the movie. OK OK, DC has to pull a Marvel and have a team movie with some early on build up. But why not just play off what is already there? Use the Supergirl angle, use the references to aliens and other metahumans being there already. No real need for Lex to be investigating. Just have all the pawns already in play, just not connected.

And the Martha vs Martha bit. A great element if noticed by a non-comic viewer but twist of it is just stupid. Superman will fly in every time Lois gets frowned at. But he lets his mother get kidnapped?!?! Oh for the love of flying fuck. He could have listened for her, flown in a breeze and wrapped her quickly in his cloak faster than any Batman could have. Whatever.

Its funny how I can spend so much time ragging on a movie that I rather enjoyed while I was in the theatre. Remember, I am the guy who likes Sucker Punch so I can stomach Snyder's bad story telling if I can get along with the visuals and the style. But the bad bits in this movie are nagging, annoying and interrupt my fun. Despite so, I loved the look of this movie.

Batman is incredible, easily the best Batman of all the movie portrayals. Even the nods to the other movies is fun, almost like Batman from an alternate universe who has to chase bad guys under city overpasses in his wall smashing batcar. The line, "We've always been criminals...." made me shiver; this Batman accepts what he is. The fight scenes are straight out of the Arkham video games, full of bone crunching hits and high dexterity jumps.

The Doomsday battle just looks good. But the little script tweaks made me hurt my left eye rolling at it. The Gotham waterfront is entirely abandoned. Groan. The island Doomsday hits after falling from space is lifeless. Gee, what a cheesy way for the movie to not have the collateral damage of the first. I think it would have been better if Batman was forced to drag Doomsday back to the last known location of the spear despite the deaths he knows it will cause. Make him understand Superman's plight. Put them on equal footing. But Wonder Woman is incredible. Slash slash and her own Captain America shield.

The movie ends with the Death of Superman, even providing us the black cellophane baggie for the comic. It had to end that way. Though obviously, we could just toss him back into space to revive him, the funeral and monument are note perfect. I felt moved. But it's not like we don't know he'll be back.

Like I will be back for the next movie.