Batman V. Superman – Movie Review

29 03 2016

The Darker Knight vs. The Almost As Dark Superman

Batman V Superman tells the story of what happens when people have too much control, too much power, and how they can selfishly harm others with their toxic viewpoints. Of course I’m talking about director Zach Snyder, but I suppose that could also apply to his broody version of super people.
Let me start by saying as a fan, I was disappointed by the critics’ reviews before the movie released, and went in with lowered expectations, but still holding on to some optimism. Hey, remember when I actually enjoyed Man of Steel? Maybe they were just comparing the tone to Marvel. DC is darker. The Dark Knight was dark, but a near-perfect movie. Maybe the trailers hadn’t really spoiled everything (what an innocent child I was!). Maybe Zach Snyder actually would be less…Zach Snyder-ly. If anything, at least this would be a fun ride. I mean, the start of the Justice League can’t be a drag, can it?
And then Bruce Wayne started floating out of that freakin’ cave and my optimism got a kick in the crotch.
If you’re a fan of anything Zach Snyder touches, feel free to ignore this review and roll around in bliss. Heck, I didn’t hate everything about this movie, but there’s a lot of stuff that made me sigh, check my watch, and wonder how many exec’s family members Snyder had to hold hostage to get some of this mess onscreen. Don’t worry, I’ll anger word vomit at the end of the review- first up, the things that worked.

For example, these guys. These guys worked.

The soundtrack was OK overall, with some bright spots (particularly the opening). However, at times you could almost sense Hans Zimmer going on autopilot, sighing to himself, and remembering the good old days when he worked for coherent movies.
Ben Affleck as Batman was one of the highlights. Ben, I’m sorry I doubted your capacity and made cheap Daredevil movie jokes. You’re buff, brooding, and communicated a world of your character’s tortured backstory that explained your bleak outlook, though it’s still weird to see Batman killing whoever he dang feels like killing.Jeremy Irons as Alfred was great as well, offering most of the little humor found in the movie. He won’t be dethroning my personal favorite, Michael Caine, anytime soon, but he casually stole every scene he appeared in for me.

Yes this was cool. Yes it was already spoiled in the trailers.

One of the biggest surprises I had during the viewing (and there weren’t many, thanks to the trailers) was Gail Gadot’s Wonder Woman. The script actually handled her well, and she sold me on the role (again, sorry for questioning your selection beforehand). She didn’t have a whole lot of screen time, but commanded attention when she did appear, and now I’m excited for her upcoming standalone movie.
Henry Cavill as Superman was, uh, there. I’m not sure which was worse- the lines they gave him, the direction he was given, or the boring acting he brought.
Jesse Eisenberg‘s Lex Luthor gave me sadness cancer. If you’re familiar with the real character from the comics, imagine if they had cast Seth Rogen (with ridiculous hair) as Kingpin in the Daredevil series, and you’ll arrive at roughly the same amount of frustrated confusion. I noticed that they threw in something about his dad being Lex Luthor, or maybe that was just backstory since he was also Lex Luthor, or good gosh why did he get so much screen time. All that time, and he still didn’t have a real reason for hating Superman, besides vague childhood issues and anger at God or Superman or he thought he was God or that there was no god and mostly his motivation was stupid. Eisenberg had the miscast and annoying super combo.

Lex Luthor, wondering who stole his cocaine, probably.

Ultimately, there’s a lot wrong about this movie (Angry Spoilers follow). Why did we need so much boring and inconsequential side plot with Lois Lane? Why did we have to see her get rescued by Superman 3 times in one movie?  Why did they blame Superman for people killed by guns in the desert? What the crap was the deal with those stupid bullets? Why did Jimmy Olsen and Mercy Graves get included, only to be quickly killed off? How come Superman was so ridiculously oblivious with the bomb, despite the senator stammering for what seemed like 3 years? How does Lex know about the other meta-humans, and why did he feel the need to create little logos for each one on his secret folder? Why does the Cyborg segment feel like a Youtube fan video? How did the “Martha” story twist not get everyone in screenwriting fired? Would you stop pummeling what you think is humanity’s greatest threat, just because your mothers share the same name? Why doesn’t every criminal in Gotham say their mother’s name is Martha?  Why did they spoil 90% of the movie in the trailers? Why did they put a lifetime of dreams in the movie, and why are all of them tripping on acid? Is this Batman’s new super power?  Why does Doomsday’s CGI look like shiny poop? Why not hand the Kryptonite spear to Wonder Woman? (Angry Spoilers End)

The only thing the trailer didn’t spoil about Doomsday was how bad his CGI would be.

Surprisingly after all that, this film did pique my interest in more installments in DC’s universe, just not any soiled by Zach Snyder’s style over substance model. I want to see a standalone Batman film, and a Wonder Woman feature as well. Maybe we could even have some fun along the way. These are people in tights with super powers after all.
To sum up, the real tragedy of this movie is it had so much potential with the cast and premise, but ultimately got smothered by a deadly serious, meandering, boring film that thought it was way more profound than it actually was. Motivations didn’t make sense, and the more interesting elements/relationships were left out to dry. And geez, Superman, you can fly and shoot lasers out of your eyes. Stop being such a brooding bore.

The Wolverine Review

2 08 2013


Ever thought about how terrible it would be to have self-healing powers so powerful you could be invincible and ageless? Wolverine thinks it is. At least he can always vent his frustration out with his six giant retractable claws, but honestly, when you start outliving everybody and picking up more and more baggage, would you look for a way out? The Wolverine explores this curse/blessing of immortality, obsession and regret, and cultural differences all at the same time (but not in that order), which is weightier material than his previous few outings. Could an X-Men movie be getting philosophical on us? Throw in ninjas and gangs, and you’ve got a few reasons to check this out. Did I mention almost everything happens in Japan? Because it totally does, and it’s epic.


the wolverine funeral scene

Back in black.


Regardless if you enjoyed Wolverine: X-men Origins, there is no questioning The Wolverine tells a better story than its predecessor. Part of the reason (besides the above premise) is the dramatically reduced number of mutants in this film, so that they feel more fleshed out, instead of side shows (with one exception). Rila Fukushima in particular makes a great impression as Yukio (and not just because of the red hair). Her mutant powers (foresight, combat skills?) are more toned down than previous shape-shifting, flying mutants, but she and non-mutant Mariko (Tao Okamoto) perfectly complement the rash, lone-wolf nature of Logan (Hugh Jackman. Duh).


the wolverine mutant

Pictured: not a mutant.


Not so great for me are the villains- Silver Samurai was a cool-looking CGI monstrosity, but the twist with who’s pulling the strings was fairly predictable after several giant hints. For me, the final CGI giant form almost felt out of place compared to the rest of the movie’s action scenes. By the way, isn’t adamantium supposed to be super rare? How could they find all that for a gargantuan robot suit? This pales next to the villainess Viper. Her snake-like powers were actually a departure from comic books, as she wasn’t even a mutant in the comics (thanks, Wikipedia!). I really don’t care about comic continuity, but everything about the character felt like it should have been in either the first Wolverine movie or the cartoony brawls of The Last Stand. Her dialogue was flat and a little cheesy, and did every outfit really have to look over-the-top reptilian? We get it, she’s like a snake! Did we run out of subtlety? In my mind, she was the weakest character.


viper poster

Strong poster. Weak character.


The third act felt different in tone from the first two. While the first two focused on more setting and characters, the final part went full comic book action. I’m not complaining, it’s just an observation (heck, ninjas vs. Wolverine was the reason I came anyway). For me, whether fanboys hated it or not, my favorite X-Men fight was in Wolverine: X-Men Origins with Sabretooth and Deadpool, because watching Wolverine fight a teleporting, dual sword-wielding, self-healing martial arts master with laser-shooting eyeballs is thoroughly awesome. As it should be. This ending was still satisfying, just not the highlight.


I thought adamantium was super rare?

Giant robot suit. Six little claws.


To sum up, this movie was no Dark Knight for me (but will anything be?), but it successfully shows us why Hugh Jackman’s character deserves to keep making movies. We finally get a deep look into his psyche and what drives him, and setting him in a dramatically different setting was a great choice. Everything about him stands in contrast to the traditions and style of the Japanese world, and this creates interesting situations and themes. Maybe most noteworthy is how different this feels from the other movies in the franchise, almost feeling like a standalone while still being a pseudo-sequel. Even with a few muddy spots, sometimes it’s good to try new things and get some fresh air.


Hugh jackman humor